2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary Results: Rachid El Morabity and Aziza El Amrany Victorious

Results from the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary race in the Sahara Desert in Morocco won by Rachid El Morabity and Aziza El Amrany.

By on April 20, 2024 | Comments

After a week of racing, the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary stage race has concluded in Morocco’s Sahara Desert. Rachid El Morabity and Aziza El Amrany took home victory for the host country in the men’s and women’s races. For El Morabity, it was his 10th win of the event, and for El Amrany, her first.

The seven-day, self-sufficiency stage race is often identified as one of the hardest footraces in the world. Throughout the race, runners navigate dunes, climb jebels (mountains), and run across a multitude of surfaces in an attempt to make it to the finish line.

Runners carry a backpack of self-sufficiency, containing the food and camping gear needed for the week; the race organization provides only a shade tent and water. Each of the race’s six stages offers a unique challenge and no one is guaranteed to make it to the end, not even those in the elite field.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Bivouac - ©iancorless

The race bivouac before the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

The 2024 race started on Sunday, April 14, and concluded on Saturday, April 20. This year’s 252.8-kilometer (157 miles) course was divided into the following six stages:

  • Stage 1: 31.1 kilometers (19.3 miles)
  • Stage 2: 40.8 kilometers (25.3 miles)
  • Stage 3: 85.3 kilometers (53 miles)
  • Stage 4: 43.1 kilometers (26.7 miles)
  • Stage 5: 31.4 kilometers (19.5 miles)
  • Stage 6: 21.1 kilometers (13 miles)

This year was set to be a fast one. The temperature at the start of the race was a moderate 18 degrees Celsius (65 Fahrenheit), making it cool compared to previous years and easier for athletes to make a quick getaway on the fairly easy first day. However, as the week went on, temperatures rose to the extreme, along with wind and sandstorms, too.

In the men’s race, eyes were turned to the Moroccan El Morabity brothers — older brother Rachid and younger brother Mohamed El Morabity — who were favorites leading up to the event. Morocco’s Aziza Raji was the favorite in the women’s field, having won the race in 2021. But Morocco’s Aziza El Amrany, with two previous podium finishes over the last two years, was sure to challenge.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 1 ©iancorless

The early going of Stage 1 in the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

The competition was set during a big year of change for the longtime race, with this year being the event’s 38th edition. Iconic race founder Patrick Bauer passed the reigns to Cyril Gauthier, operator of the Half Marathon des Sables events. Through this, the week-long stage race took an evolved name, the Marathon des Sables Legendary.

Additionally, logistical shake-ups abound for runners on the ground, namely the shift of the notorious long stage to Stage 3 rather than Stage 4. Also, the final Stage 6 has been for some years a non-competitive charity stage, but this year it was timed and a part of the overall competition.

Read on for how the race played out.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary Men’s Race

Ahead of the race, all eyes were turned to nine-time Marathon des Sables winner Rachid El Morabity of Morocco, as well as his brother Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco), a six-time finisher with one win and five second places to his name. Rachid made a strong start to Stage 1, dashing off at an average pace of 18 kilometers per hour, testing the rest of the competition to see if they would keep up. By halfway through the first stage, Rachid slowed when his brother Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco) and Aziz Yachou (Morocco) were the only athletes close behind.

At the end of Stage 1, it was the younger brother Mohamed in the lead, winning the stage in 2:11:09, followed by Rachid (2:11:36) and Aziz (2:11:38). In fourth, it was fellow Moroccan and older brother of Aziz, Hamid Yachou, with Ahmed Ouikhalfen also of Morocco in fifth.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 1 - Mohamed El Morabity - Photo Antonio Miranda

Mohamed El Morabity winning Stage 1 of the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Antonio Miranda

Stage 2 remained steady throughout, with the top three men — Mohamed, Rachid, and Aziz — running together before crossing the finish line hand in hand ahead of the race’s longest stage the next day.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 2 - Photo Antonio Miranda

The three race leaders running together in Stage 2. Photo: MDS/Antonio Miranda

Now for the big one: Stage 3. This was the longest stage, with 85.3 kilometers (53 miles). It takes place over two days with a 35-hour cut-off time. Usually, during the long stage, we see the leaders create a gap with their competitors, just as Mohamed did this year. He started competitively and got better as the day unfolded. After 25 kilometers, Mohamed accelerated ahead of his competition through the stage’s technical sections. By the end of the stage, Mohamed had a lead of over 10 kilometers, finishing in 7:37:47.

But the Stage 3 race wasn’t over. Behind Mohamed, his brother Rachid battled it out with Aziz. Right until the last moment, the pair were head to head. With 200 meters to go Rachid launched a sprint, but Aziz’s speed couldn’t be matched. Aziz crossed the line at 8:31:52, just one second before Rachid. There was also a surprise entrance from Yoann Stuck of France, who finished just seven minutes behind Rachid and Aziz, overtaking Hamid for fourth in the stage.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Yoann Stuck - Photo Ian Corless

Yoann Stuck running a stage in the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

In an attempt to reclaim overall fourth place, Hamid raced ahead during the start of Stage 4 but was caught by the El Morabity brothers after the first sandy section. Despite his efforts, he was eventually overtaken by Stuck, who hung onto fourth place for the stage, beating Hamid by a mere second. Further ahead, Rachid broke away from his brother Mohamed and Aziz by the 30-kilometer mark, winning the stage and solidifying his overall second-place position ahead of Aziz in the overall standings. Mohamed and Aziz would finish together 95 seconds behind Rachid.

There was a dramatic turn of events during Stage 5. Mohamed started the stage with a 53-minute overall lead but started slowing by 10 kilometers into the 31-kilometer stage, slowed greatly by 20 kilometers, and stepped out of the third checkpoint with a bandage around his thigh. He limped over the finish line in 35th position. This opened up the field for Rachid and Aziz, who now both had a chance to claim first place. Rachid accelerated to the finish line, 40 seconds ahead of Aziz and, just as importantly, more than 52 minutes ahead of Mohamed.

The top three remained unchanged at the end of the day, but the overall competition was very tight among them heading into the race’s final stage, with Mohamed 35 seconds ahead of Rachid and 2 minutes and 51 seconds ahead of Aziz.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 5 - Rachid El Morabity - Photo Ian Corless

Rachid El Morabity on his way to winning Stage 5. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

The battle for first place continued into the sixth and final stage, with the top three runners remaining fairly tight throughout the 21-kilometer stage. In the end, Rachid and Aziz went head to head.

With another sprint finish, Rachid El Morabity took a two-second lead and won the stage with a time of 1:22:05 and an overall winning time of 20:42:19, for his 10th overall victory at the race. Rachid now stands with only one other runner to have won the race 10 times, Morocco’s Lahcen Ahansal.

Right behind was Aziz Yachou who crossed the line in 1:22:07 and finished third overall with a time of 20:44:37. This was Aziz’s fourth finish, and he’s never finished slower than fourth place.

Mohamed El Morabity retained third in this stage, crossing the line a minute later than his brother in 1:23:05 and taking second overall in 20:42:44 — his sixth time finishing second and his seventh finish of the event.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary Men’s Race Results

  1. Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) – 20:42:19
  2. Mohamed El Morabity (Morocco) – 20:42:44
  3. Aziz Yachou (Morocco) – 20:44:37
  4. Hamid Yachou (Morocco) – 22:56:41
  5. Yoann Stuck (France) – 23:00:14
  6. Ahmed Ouikhalfen (Morocco) – 23:33:27
  7. James Miller – (South Africa) 23:56:05
  8. John Dewey (U.K.) – 24:07:34
  9. Merile Robert (France) – 24:21:23
  10. Roberto Mastrotto (Italy) – 24:32:44

Full results.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Staff - Photo Ian Corless

The hardest working men of the Marathon des Sables: the local staff. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary Women’s Race

There was no holding back at the start of the women’s race either. Morocco’s Aziza El Amrany led with an average pace of 14 kilometers per hour, far ahead of the competition. Although she slowed down during the second half of Stage 1, El Amrany still finished way ahead in a time of 2:45:54 and 17th overall.

One of the favorites for this year’s competition, Aziza Raji (Morocco) was the 2021 winner and has placed in the top 10 in all five Marathon des Sables that she’s completed. Raji came in 26 minutes behind El Amrany and took second place for Stage 1. She was closely followed by Adriana Moser of The Netherlands in third place, a first-timer who won the most recent Half Marathon des Sables. Multi-time podium finisher Gemma Game (U.K.) and three-time winner Laurence Klein (France) followed in fourth and fifth.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 1 - Aziza El Amrany - Photo Antonio Miranda

Aziza El Amrany winning Stage 1 of the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Antonio Miranda

Stage 2 took a surprising start as Klein tried to lead but was quickly caught by El Amrany, who went on to win the second stage. At the end of day two, the overall podium remained the same with El Amrany holding a 46-minute total lead.

Things remained stable on the podium for the third stage of the women’s race. There was speculation as to whether El Amrany would be able to hold her position on this, the longest stage, after two strong days. However, there was no doubt in the end, as she once again dominated most of the stage, besting Raji by 38 minutes and Moser by 78 minutes. Leading Frenchwoman Klein suffered a blow around 30 kilometers. Fortunately, her son, who was also competing, caught up with Klein and they completed the last 25 kilometers of the stage together.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 3 - Aziza El Amrany - Photo Ian Corless

It was another win for Aziza El Amrany in Stage 3. Photo: MDS/Ian Corless

During Stage 4, things started to heat up, literally. With the rising temperatures, El Amrany suffered heat exhaustion, which slowed her down but didn’t stop her. She still went on to finish in first place in 4:29:41, 23 minutes ahead of Raji.

The biggest news of this stage came from Moser, who made an early exit just 5 kilometers into the stage. The long third stage caused severe blisters on her feet, which led to a change in stride and, eventually, leg pain. This devastating blow for Moser shifted the U.K.’s Game up to third position overall, while Rajaa Hamdaoua of France finished third in this stage and moved into fourth overall. Australia’s Lois Pickering moved up to fifth place in the overall rankings for the first time.

Finally, it was time for Raji to shine in Stage 5. After yesterday’s heat illness and with a comfortable lead, El Amrany understandably held back in Stage 5. This left the field open for Raji to take the stage win for the first time in the race, besting El Amrany by eight seconds. Game also eased up to fifth place in the stage, but held onto third place in the overall rankings.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 3 - Aziza Raji - Photo Antonio Miranda

Aziza Raji finishing Stage 3. Photo: MDS/Antonio Miranda

The race for first place was much less competitive on the final day of the women’s race as El Amrany won the sixth and final stage, taking first place in five out of the six stages and creating a good distance between her and the rest of the field. Aziza El Amrany completed the final stage in 1:41:21 and won the overall race by more than two hours with a time of 27:06:27.

Aziza Raji came second in this stage in 1:55:54 and overall with a time of 29:09:04.

Gemma Game was further out in the field for the sixth stage but still managed to retain her overall third place, with a finishing time of 32:18:58. This is her fourth finish of the event and her third time finishing in third place — a woman of consistency.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Stage 5 - Aziza El Amrany - Aziza Raji - Photo Antonio Miranda

Aziza El Amrany and Aziza Raji (right) shortly after Raji won Stage 5 of the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Antonio Miranda

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary Women’s Race Results

  1. Aziza El Amrany (Morocco) – 27:06:27
  2. Aziza Raji (Morocco) – 29:09:04
  3.  Gemma Game (U.K.) – 32:18:58
  4.  Rajaa Hamdaoua (France) – 32:29:24
  5.  Saskia Plaucheur (France) – 34:32:06
  6.  Lois Pickering (Australia) – 34:45:34
  7.  Amélie Ginter (France) – 35:09:34
  8.  Jessie Couve de Murville (France) – 35:10:30
  9.  Julie Rach (France) – 36:04:29
  10.  Emilie Balthazard (France) – 36:13:11

Full results.

2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary - Sky - Photo Cailloux

The stars preside over the 2024 Marathon des Sables Legendary. Photo: MDS/Arnaud Cailloux

Eryn Barber

Eryn Barber is a freelance writer at iRunFar. For the last five years she’s also written for publications like “Ultra Runner Magazine” and “Like The Wind Magazine.” She works as a personal trainer, has a master’s degree in strength and conditioning, and has been featured in “Women’s Health” magazine. Eryn has transitioned over the last decade from sprinting on the track to running on the trails and fells, distances anywhere from five to 50 kilometers. In her spare time she enjoys reading, drinking Earl Grey tea, and learning French.