Are you looking for a real challenge to take on in 2017? If so you’ll find that Morocco offers you the perfect opportunities to achieve something truly remarkable that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
The Marrakech Atlas Etape is one of the newer sportives on the circuit, but has already built up quite a reputation internationally as a challenging ride through beautiful scenery. The route winds its way from Marrakech up to the ski resort of Oukaïmeden, a challenging climb to rival the best Alpine rides, with numerous switchbacks and hairpins and a near relentless gradient. However, this is not about time, it’s about having fun and there is a choice of routes so riders of all ages and abilities can take part. The etape supports Education for All, a Moroccan NGO helping girls from rural families continue their education after primary school. This year’s event takes place on Sunday 30th April, more details can be found here.
The Marathon des Sables is the biggie, and really isn’t one for the faint-hearted. It’s seen as possibly the toughest foot race in the world as it basically involves running six marathons in six days, across one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. As British author and MdS finisher Alastair Humphries says, ‘it squeezes a lifetime of adventure into just one week’ Registration for 2017 is already full, but there’s no harm in looking ahead – you can book your place for 2018 from the 21st of July, giving you more training time for this ultimate challenge!
Ladies! The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc involves off-road driving in the desert of south Morocco for four days. It’s a race that is about navigation rather than speed; drivers have to navigate between checkpoints – without GPS assistance – covering the shortest distance possible. It’s an event solely for women, and one that places great importance on its values of tolerance, solidarity and responsibility. Women from over thirty countries come to Morocco to take part and you can book your place here:
Gazelles and Men Rally – If you like the sound of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, but don’t qualify on account of not having a pair of x chromosomes, then this event has been arranged for you. Teams of two, either men or a man and women are needed for this race which also works on the principles of navigation rather than speed. This is brand new for 2017 and the inaugural event will take place 4th to 11th November.
To complete the Saharan Challenge you must complete two 42km treks over two days. The course takes you through the impressive scenery of the Draa Valley, starting at Mount Kissane and ending in the Nakhla sand dunes. You’ll walk alongside rivers, past mud-brick villages, through date-palm plantations, across rocky ground and over golden sand dunes on your journey, along with 200 other hardy adventurers and support staff. This year’s event is happening between the 12th and 16th October.
Standing at 4,167m, Mount Toubkal is the highest mountain in north Africa, and while it’s relatively gentle slopes mean there’s no need to break out the crampons and ropes, it’s still a mighty challenge that will leave you with a fantastic sense of achievement once you are standing at the summit. As you climb you’ll get fantastic views out across the Atlas Mountains and beyond.
This is a popular challenge to undertake for charity and as a result there are events arranged throughout the year, making it easy to find one to suit your diary.