Endless dunes cover the encrusted ground.

Dark rocks rise above the shimmering horizon, glittering in the scorching heat.

You won't find any shade or moisture here.

A fiery cloak has been laid over the endless expanse of sand-colored wasteland.

The Sahara is a place of beauty and horror.

Alexander Davydov

Sports editor.

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But this is exactly where almost 700 runners from all over the world want to face a life-threatening challenge: the 35th Marathon des Sables.

An ultra marathon.

Six stages.

A total of 250 kilometers through the fiery heart of the desert.

Not everyone will be able to cope with this test.

But at some point some people will have to ask themselves the question: Why do you do this to yourself?

Welcome to the desert camp

A young woman from Germany is also looking for the answer when she lands in Errachidia, Morocco, a few days before the race. The start number 307 is written on a small paper sign with the name Elise next to it. "I once found out about the run through a documentary film, that somehow attracted me," says the 25-year-old banker. "A friend of mine who also made it once said I could do that too."

In the Sahara, Elise hopes to prove to herself what she is made of. At first glance, the petite young woman has little in common with the stereotype of a stereotypical extreme athlete. In return, ambition, will, but also a trace of naivety are reflected in her eyes. The run, which costs the participants around 3500 euros, attracts its customers as one of the toughest races in the world and an adventure for anyone who is just bold enough. Elise trusts the success rate of 95 percent advertised by the organizers.

The journey begins in one of the desert camps from which the stages are to start over the next six days.

This is how home looks for the coming week, far away from the Internet, bed or shower: 90 primitive tents made of heavy black fabric are lined up in a large circle and divided according to country.

Eight kilograms of minimum supply

Despite these conditions, the mood among the 40 or so nations is exuberant.

“At the moment I can hardly believe the whole thing.

For me it still feels almost like at a festival, ”says Elise, while Russian pop music is loudly playing from one of the neighboring tents and is met with cheering calls from the Dutch parliamentary group.

But Elise also knows: The run is a serious matter.

The shortest section is only nine, the longest is more than 82 kilometers long.

With the exception of water at designated checkpoints and emergency medical aid, survival is ensured by what the participants carry with them in a small running backpack: sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove, food, clothing.

The most important thing, reduced to a minimum of eight to ten kilograms.

The organizers warn in their manuals against too much carelessness in mastering the route, but also tolerate strange exotic species again and again.

This year it is a French adventurer who contests the run barefoot in a media-effective manner.

Keywords: matter., the marathon des sables, marathon des sables, races, desert, world, banker, hundreds, shade, runners, elise, test, everyone, middle, horizon