Mohamad Ahansal (Marathon des Sables Champ) Video Interview

A video interview with Mohamad Ahansal the day after he won his third consecutive Marathon des Sables.

By on April 12, 2010 | Comments

Sometimes opportunity falls into your lap. Other times it falls into your laptop as it did for me yesterday afternoon when I returned from a rainy run to find an invitation to speak with Mohamad Ahansal. In case you haven’t been following our coverage of the 2010 Marathon des Sables, Mohamad won the race for the fourth time. It was his third consecutive victory.* Anyway, within five minutes I found, purchased, and installed a program to record Skype calls and, voila!, I’m recording the following video interview with Mohamad the day after his MdS victory and mere minutes before hit heads out to hit the club for some celebratory dancing. No, really!

We’ll let the interview speak for itself, but some highlights include Mohamad discussing his training for this year’s race, what he ate while running the stages, and his future race plans both for the Marathon des Sables and in the United States.

Here are a few additional items of note that didn’t make it into the video.

Mohamad Ahansal Marathon des Sables race number

  • Not only is Mohamad one heck of a great runner, he’s also one heck of a great guy. Over the year’s, he’s built up a relationship with Jay Batchen and Lisa Smith-Batchen, the American (and Canadian and Australian and…) ambassadors for the Marathon des Sables. Well, what does he do after the race? He dedicates and signs his race number for Jay and Lisa’s kids. How nice is that?!
  • Reliable sources indicate that Mohamad repeatedly turned down offers for beer before the race. However, he raised a celebratory pint … or six after the race. Of course, even if he had six beers that would only be one Casablanca for each of his stages wins at this year’s MdS! Over the post-MdS weekend, Mohamad even suggested that beer is good when you have sand in your body and when you need to fatten up at a race. We’re not sure how many “Casas” into his celebrating it was when he gave this advice.
  • After his winning effort, Mohamad will be taking a full month off from running. During that time, he’ll go for walks and go trekking in the Atlas Mountains. He also plans on a vacation by the sea.
  • He shared that he ran alone this year in that he didn’t have his regular Moroccan counterparts such as Lahcen Ahansal (his brother), Samir Akhdar, or Lhoucine Akhdar. The Moroccan competitors have been known to work together in the past.
  • Lahcen Ahansal wasn’t able to compete this year as he had a knee operation after last year’s race. These days he’s mountain biking, swimming, and running for pleasure.
  • This year, Mohamad was sponsored by Sultan, which makes Moroccan green tea and which also sponsored this year’s MdS. We thought it interesting that when racing Mohamad will place dry green tea in his mouth, drink water, and suck on the tea. He does this for energy based on advice from his mother more than ten years ago. Sounds unconventional, but its the usual for most energy gels to contain caffeine, right?
  • Mohamad is afraid of bears. More specifically, he’s afraid of bears when he visits the Teton Mountains of Idaho and Wyoming. “They run fast!”
  • During the interview, Mohamad mentions “melange” as something he eats during the race. He later explained that melange is a mix of honey with ground up almonds, dates, and other dried fruit. [Mohammed from NC, a friend from the 2009 races adds, the Ahansal is describing melange as including peanuts, nuts, and raisins. Thanks, Mohammed!]
  • We’re pretty sure that Mohamad wore the Brooks Launch during this year’s race. It’s not uncommon for racers to wear road shoes at MdS. For instance, it appears that Michael Wardian wore Nike’s Lunar Glide for this year’s race.
Mohamad Ahansal Brooks Launch

Mohamad Ahansal’s fast feet in Brooks Launch, the shoe he wore for the 2010 Marathon des Sables.

Thanks to Meghan Hicks and Samir Akhdar (not seen) for assisting with the interview!

* (Note, neither of Mohamad’s MdS accomplishments are records, as his brother, Lahcen Ahansal, won the race nine straight years – 1999 to 2007 – and ten times in total!)

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.