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Sahara Marathon

Wednesday February 27th, 2019
Tindouf, Algeria
Distance: Marathon

The Sahara Marathon is an international sport event to demonstrate solidarity with the Saharawi people. Its first edition was in 2001. It’s organized by the Secretary of State for Sport, Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with the help of volunteers from all over the world. For the promotion and coordination of participants from other countries, the organization also partners with Marie Frison from France, Wolfgang Hofman from Germany, Oddvar Rosten from Norway and Danielle Smith from England.


The Sahara Marathon, which along with the standard-distance marathon also includes the shorter distances of 21km, 10km, 5km and the children’s race, is aimed at promoting sport activity among Saharawi young men and women and financing and developing humanitarian programs. But also wants, through sport, raise awareness and sensitize the world about a 35-year-long conflict.

37 years of suffering for a population affected by a conflict that is burying their hopes, generation after generation, in the refugee camps of Tindouf (Algeria), far from their home. 37 years during which the international community has not been able to unlock the situation.
A race to prevent the Saharawi people from being forgotten.

18 years of SaharaMarathon, and 42 years of exile for the Saharawi people.

The 2018 edition of SaharaMarathon revolves around a number we all know: 42. The kilometers you need to run to complete a marathon, but also the number of years that the Saharawi spent away from their home, in this inhospitable desert. So we would like this edition to be about history, most of all, following the very good response we had last year with the guided walking tours in Smara organized by our young saharawi collaborators.


We’ll try to improve even more your experience, but we know that we can’t beat the most beautiful one, the life with a saharawi family, enjoying the tea and the company in their home, in the slow saharawi time.

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Race Date: 02/26/2018 Distance: Marathon
Division Time Name Age Home
Male 2:59:47 Lehsen Sidahmed Ahmed RASD
2nd Male 3:10:00 Juan Carlos Salvador Villa ESP
3rd Male 3:14:16 SEDDIKI ABDELHAK
4th Male 3:14:17 Juan Javier Moreno Elias
Female 4:49:49 MARINA GRAZIANI ITA
2nd Female 4:52:07 María Luz Wander Baquedano ESP
3rd Female 5:00:42 Dulce María Rotaeche Zubillaga ESP
4th Female 5:03:05 Charlotta Svalander SWE
Division Time Name Age Home
Sahara Marathon

Close to Tindouf, within the Algerian territory, at a very short distance from Western Sahara and Mauritania, there is a border zone which has been home to 200,000 sharawi refugees for more than 35 years.

Each refugee camp is a “wilaya”, that is a little town, which bears the name of the corresponding abandoned Western Sahara city.

In Dakhla the sand creates majestic dunes, but most part of the surrounding area is “hammada”, that is a place whose climate is always extremely cold or extremely hot.

If you take a walk around the refugee camp, you will never feel alone, meeting people, children wanting to know your nationality or asking for candies, people stopping to talk to you and others who will just say hello without even stopping; most people will offer you some tea, the mark of hospitality for saharawi people. It would be polite to take at least three cups. The first one tastes bitter as life, the second is sweet as love while the third is soft as death. You came from a distant place for a very important reason, to promote more awareness of the health and food needs of Western Sahara children.


This event is much more than a simple race.

The route symbolically connects the three refugee camps of Smara, Auserd and ElAyoun, and leads runners through a desert which has been the home of refugees for 35 years. Thanks to your effort and your concern for this issue, you have reawakened their hope, giving them the feeling of not being alone. But what is more important is that, as you decided to go there, they can now count on new friends all their lives.

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