Saturday, April 05, 2008

In Cha Allah

In Cha Allah is a phrase you will hear often during the Marathon des Sables. It means ‘God willing’. And regardless of your faith, these words carry more and more significance as you complete the stages of MDS. Your training, your hydration, your nutrition be damned…it is only “God willing” that you will finish this epic race.

So many have finished already…see the
results page.

It is amazing for me to watch. I look and see that my friend Simone was second female and her daughter ran the entire race with her...just amazing!!!

Please use the COMMENTS field of this post to offer congratulations to your friends and family as you see that they have finished. We are planning on turning these blog posts into a little book for the Dreamchaser finishers, so they can read how much we cared about them through this race.

It will be great to have your comments so fresh…right as you know they are safe and sound. As one wife posted on a Blog this week about her husband who was competing this week…details are still to come about the race from my husband, but no matter right now…HE LIVES!

Stage 6 (the Final Stage) Press Release

Moroccan competitor Mohamad Ahansal won his second Marathon des Sables, treating himself to a stage victory, and the crowd to a splendidly accrobatic cartwheel on the finish line in Tazzarine. After a long series of MDS coming second after his brother Lahcen, this child of Zagora demonstrated this year a great strategic sense. He took a clear lead on the first stage, gaining 17 minutes over his challengers, and then simply kept control over them. Despite his best efforts, Jordanian runner Salameh Al Aqra’ could never make up for his stage one defeat, although we owe him much of this week’s excitement. Just like last year, Aziz El Akad won a well deserves third rank.

On the women’s side, no surprise: Touda Didi from Morocco won all the stages way ahead of her competitors. It’s her first MDS victory, but most probably not her last, considering her utter domination of the race. After her come Simone Kayser and Lis Kayser, ex aequo – mother and daughter ran together all week long.

On the finish line, competitors expressed their joy, their pride or their relief in various fashion. Many broke in tears in the MDS director Patrick Bauer’s arms. Many also chose to pay homage to their country, holding out brand new flags, from Morocco of course, but also from the UK, Jordania, Colombia, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Luxemburg… Families were there to share the runners’ joy and many competitors held their children’s hand to run the last few yards taking them to the finish line.

Some kissed the ground while others, despite their exhaustion, insisted on a final sprint.

Thus this 23rd Marathon des Sables comes to a close: once again, the human and sportive adventure was completely out of this world. Our 1200 runners and organisers will be going home with stunning images and extremely moving memories. No doubt they’re already thinking about the 34th edition. In Cha Allah.

Last night, competitors were treated to a classical music concert , with singers and musicians from the Paris opera standing right in the middle of their bivouac. AMAZING!!! Grit & culture!!!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Peggy! We knew you could do it! You were absolutely amazing!!! We are so proud of you.
Love, Kathy, Rod, Taylor, Zachary, and Kristopher

Anonymous said...

Hey Marianne,

You did it!!!!! Unbelieveable. You are 5 feet of grit, determination, strength and heart all topped off with lots of crazy. So very impressed. Can't wait to hear all the stories. I see many new accordian tunes coming out of this experiece!

Congratulations and awe,
Nancy Meyers

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Congratulations to all of the MDS runner's, walkers, dreamchasers!
Many crossed the finish line today while others had to pull out at one point. First or last or not at all you have followed you dream and did the very best you could.
We are all so very proud.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Peggy!

After all these years of running with the Hopi and other local races, and then running super-marathons elsewhere, I knew you would finish this one in your usual fine form. Keep your heart high! We were with you all the way!


Anonymous said...

Ted writes that he is "in awe of the grit and determination that so many have shown."
Well, he is among those many. As I sit here this morning reading that he finished 22nd in
Stage 6 and 16th overall...I am filled with much emotion. But for those of you who know me,
you probably don't find that unusual.

Ted made great time, don't you think? One hundred and fifty two plus miles? His
backpack was prepared for just about anything. And prepared was a good thing to be
when there were so many unknown possibilities, so many choices, so many sand dunes.
Ted took a path, a journey that probably none of us ever will. He has probably learned that
he has more control than he may have thought he had.

The way one acts and reacts to everything that comes your way is continually deciding
how your story is going to be told. Ted chose to see himself as a born survivor and I believe
that helped him to handle all the crazy circumstances that he must have encountered this
past week accordingly.

I haven't even heard his whole story yet, but I am already amazed at what he has withstood.
He has made molehills out of sand dunes.

Isn't it funny how the things you do need to take on your journey...


...they don't weigh you down.

And isn't it funny how the things you don't need to take on your journey...


...they do weigh you down like stones.

Ted is a journeyer, a survivor and not only am I extremely proud of him, I am also very proud
to know him.


Anonymous said...

To Aaron, Andrea, George,Jay, Jeff, Laurie, Leigh, Marianne, Mike, Peggy, Steve, Ted, Terry
YOU DID IT!!! Well done, everyone!
I can't wait to hear all your stories!
Love and hugs to all,

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

That has to be one of the most beautiful notes (to Ted) that I have ever read!

Greg Pressler said...

A huge note of congrats to all of the MDS entrants. I'm very proud to call a few of you friends and am extremely proud that we are all bound by the brotherhood & sisterhood of being MDS veterans.

My plans this year to meet you before the start in OZZ were curtailed by family travel plans that steered me away from Morocco. However, know that I was with you all in spirit as you struggled (and enjoyed!) the hot sands, brutal sun, and challenging conditions. great to see your picture as you toed the line for another go-round. Kira--your smile gives me energy! You're all Amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

MDS '96

Anonymous said...


"What a blazing finish." I am so proud of you. See you in Falls Church.

Anonymous said...

Jay this one is for you. What a job you did with close to 80 runners in your group. I am not sure how you ran so well but it just your super human.
People have know idea how great they have it going over to this race with you and Lisa on there team. I hope they can get a small idea of all the work you both put in to ensure they have the experience they are looking for let alone the know how of what to do to see the finish line.
You make us all proud. I hope to be back there one year with you again.


Anonymous said...


YOU GO GIRL!!! You have inspired all of us! Watching you through the eyes of the web has made us all weepy at your courage, drive and endurance! What a TOTAL inspiration! YOU DID IT!!!

Randi and Family

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all the Dreamchasers! You are all amazing for completing such a tough task. Of course, I am a bit partial to my boyfriend Ted and so proud of his performance this week, but I want all of the U.S. competitors to know that I was also following your progress this week and rooting for you all the way. I am in awe of all that each of you have accomplished this week.

Marianne, I had some serious fun reading your blog this week. I first heard good things about you after the October Death Valley training camp, but after reading your blog I can tell you must be some serious fun to be around. Congratulations.

Lisa, you are truly amazing for training and shepherding all of these folks through their training. Everyone did so well!

Welcome home, runners. You are all an inspiration.

- Amy

olga said...

Congrats to all the finishers in hot desert! You rock, guys and gals!

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Greg! How are you???
Will you go back to MDS next year???
Did you find a photo of Kira on the web site, we do not see one.
She sure rocked it even some of it in flip flops!
We miss you arounf here.

Hi Olga!

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Hi it you Mike J.??
What a kind note for Jay. He sure does do the job well and I am so proud of the efforts he makes to try and have everyone happy and do well in the race. It looks like we lost 3 people out of 79, not to bad. I hope those 3 will go back and try again.
Hope to see you soon

Bob Gentile said...

Wooo Hooo CONGRATS to all the Finishers!! Way to go!! Can't wait to read ur race reports when u get back home!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all the dreamchasers! Amazing. Your strength is astounding and your courage remarkable. Congratulations on your enormous acheivement. You are an inspiration to all! I can't wait to hear the stories and see the photos!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kay, and congrats for finishing the race. Way megaprops to you! I know I could not have done it, even back when I ran marathons. You are some sister! Enjoy the post race party and have a safe flight home. We are all proud of you!

Brother Jim

Anonymous said...

I hope you’ve felt the pride from your family as you pushed through the heat, the sun, the dark and the sand. We have loved to watch - in awe - as our “little brother” raises the bar and leads by example. Every time something seems Just too hard, I think of you and get tougher, stronger. You’re our hero. Thanks for sharing your dreams with us.

Congratulations! And enjoy your upcoming travels.

Be safe and email when you can. Love, Kathy, Jim

Devon & Josh said...

Ted - we are so proud of you!! When you first told Josh & I about MDS over a year ago we thought that anyone would be utterly crazy to run a race like that... but I have to admit that I turned into an MDS junkie! Each day as I logged on to see the results I sat with utter amazement and felt so much pride. What you did is nothing short of amazing. Kudos to you for daring to dream & running with such conviction.

We love you!
Josh, Devon & Audrey

Anonymous said...

Lisa and Jay,
i am so down with this race next year it will be my 10 year reunion. we will have a blast! i have had one of my happiest years to date and i want to have the goal of running mds again. and feel all those amazing feeling again.

Anonymous said...

George Velasco -
The whole family is so proud of you and your accomplishment. Be safe, take care of your feet, and always remember how much we love you.

Diane Velasco Hyland

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Yeah Heath...we are thrilled your going to go back with we need to get Bob S. to:)

Great fun


Anonymous said...

To all the athletes,

My deepest congrats to you all for your courage, strength and determination. You are inspiring!

To Lisa and Jay, it has been so wonderful reading your comments and I really got a sense of just how passionate your are about each of your "Dreamchasers". Nice Job!

Good on all of you!

Marc Bremner