Rachid El Morabity, 2015 Marathon des Sables Champion, Interview

Rachid El Morabity scored his third win of the Marathon des Sables with this year’s 30th anniversary race. In the following interview, Rachid talks about his training before the race, his confidence going into this year’s competition, and how each of the stages played out.

For more info on how the race played out, check out our 2015 Marathon des Sables results article.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Rachid El Morabity, 2015 Marathon des Sables Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Ouarzazate, Morocco, with the 2015 Marathon des Sables champion. This is Rachid El Morabity after his third win here. Congratulations! Felicitacions! How are you feeling today? You’re the champion!

Rachid El Morabity: I’m so happy to race this year and to win this race. I want to thank first my sponsor, TGCC. They gave me the whole support to win this race. I won because I did a lot of training this year. I’m so happy for this win.

iRunFar: I want to go back and talk about your training and preparation for this race. You did a lot of it. You were constantly out in the desert or the mountains training. Back up and talk about how you actually prepared for the race.

El Morabity: I was in the Marathon des Sables in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. This gave me a lot of experience to know the way to run the MdS. I did this year four training camps in Zagora in the desert. The ground is like Marathon des Sables, and that’s what helps me to be the winner of this Marathon des Sables.

iRunFar: The race itself, the men’s competition was more competitive this year than any previous years. I want to talk for a minute about your mind going into the race knowing that it was the most competitive Marathon des Sables for the men. Where was your mind before the race? Were you going in to win? Were you going in to run your best race? Were you going in to compete your best against the other men? What was going on in your mind?

El Morabity: While I won 2014, I got such big confidence in myself and that helped me go to Marathon des Sables to be the winner of this race. I ran many times with most of the runners, the known runners, and I know the way they train and the way they run. This gives me such confidence that I can do the best at this Marathon des Sables.

iRunFar: What you’re saying is that you actually went into the race thinking you could probably win?

Translator Samir Akhdar: That’s what I understand. He said with the confidence he got from the last Marathon des Sables, he felt he could win the race.

iRunFar: That’s a pretty big deal. Not a lot of people go into this race thinking they could probably win MdS.

El Morabity: The way that I’m from Zagora and I’m used to the same climate as the Marathon des Sables, this boosts my confidence and is why I won 2014. That gave me the confidence I am not less than the other competitors. I have such confidence that I can win, so I went to Marathon des Sables to win.

iRunFar: I want to ask how the race played out briefly. The race seemed very close for the men all the way through. Day by day, Rachid, you won by just a couple seconds at a time. Was it each day that you were trying to build a small lead, a small lead, a small lead and stay enough ahead of the rest of the competition? Is that how you tried to run each stage?

El Morabity: That’s what I tried to do because there was [Abdelkader] El Mouaziz, Mohamad Ahansal, Chema Martinez. The level of those runners is a little bit bigger than myself. I tried only to win by seconds because it was the way for me to win Marathon des Sables is each day to win by a little bit.

iRunFar: It seemed as the race went on that your main competition was Abdelkader El Mouaziz. He was just behind you by a couple seconds each day. They ran, the two of them, Rachid and Abdelkader, ran most of the long stage together. Did you see El Mouaziz as your main competition for the week?

El Morabity: El Mouaziz and Aziz [El Akad] was one of my team and we worked together. The goal was to win the team competition. At the end of the race, we tried to earn some seconds… how do you say… like to conquer at the end.

iRunFar: Pushing a little bit more at the end to get ahead?

Translator Samir Akhdar: That’s what he said.

iRunFar: My last question for you: you’re now a three-times Marathon des Sables winner. You’re kind of a celebrity here in Morocco. It took me a little bit of time to get a moment to interview you today because you’re so popular. What next? Will we see you here at the Marathon des Sables next year? What next for the three-time champion?

El Morabity: The Marathon des Sables has opened up a lot of chances or as we say in Morocco, a lot of doors.

iRunFar: We say the same thing in English.

El Morabity: A lot of opportunities. I can’t stop running MdS even if I don’t win. I will return to MdS.

iRunFar: Inshallah, MdS 2016.

El Morabity: Inshallah.

iRunFar: Congratulations. Felicitacions again.

El Morabity: Thank you very much. Very nice. Thank you for the interview.

iRunFar: You’re welcome. Incredible performance. Just a masterful treatment of the MdS–day by day winning by just enough to stay ahead of the competition. We look forward to seeing you at your next race.

El Morabity: This was the 30th anniversary for the Marathon des Sables. I worked to make it an anniversary for me, too.

iRunFar: One last thing. I want to say thank you and congratulations to you also, Samir, for your fourth-place performance in the Marathon des Sables. Thank you also for today’s translation.

Akhdar: You are welcome, Meghan. Thank you so much.

iRunFar: Thanks again.

El Morabity and Akhdar: You’re welcome.

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Senior Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There is one comment

  1. @mackeydave

    Rachid and the top competitors were off the charts amazing. It's incredibly impressive how they raced day after day in those conditions, without having a bad segment. For Rachid to not have a bad day speaks volumes of his abilities. Elizabeth Barnes is in the same category. Great interview and translation by Samir, who also ran his best year yet.

Post Your Thoughts