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Desert marathon

Anders Forsmo from Vallø, Norway, has been running in Marathons for almost 20 years. On the 25 February he ran once again – in the Sahara. Tønsbergs Blad, 6th March, 2008.
Published: 11.03 - 2008 20:40Printer version    
Tønsbergs Blad
6th March 2008
by John Arne Edvardsen

He stated that he had run the New York Marathon as well as those held in a number of other cities.

However, the desert marathon was the greatest marathon experience he had taken part in so far.

A Race for Solidarity
The Sahara marathon is no ordinary run. The route goes through three refugee camps in Algeria, all of them inhabited by refugees from the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara.

While the Moroccans have occupied the fertile and productive coastal strip, they have forced many of the local Sahrawi population to move inland to areas composed of little more than sand and stone.

The Sahara Marathon is therefore an international arrangement, where participants can publicly show their solidarity with the Sahrawi refugees.

12 Participants from Norway
Approx. 170 people from around the world participated in this, the 8th edition of the Sahara Marathon.

There were 12 participants from Norway, Forsmo being the only one from the county of Vestfold.

Six took part in the complete Marathon, while the rest of the Norwegian contingent ran the half Marathon and the 10 kilometre distance.

Anders Forsmo hails originally from Trondheim and he participated together with his long time marathon partner, Pål Bakken, who is from the same region, but is now resident in Portugal.

After almost 20 years of Marathon running on the streets of large cities, the two friends found that they needed a greater and more exciting challenge.

Forsmo stated that he had hoped to complete the course in less than 4 hours. He had a personal best time of 3.12 for this distance but achieved 3.29. A time he was very pleased with.

Most of the course consisted of hard packed sand that gave a good surface to run on, although it was rather undulating and uneven when compared to a normal Marathon course. The weather was fine with a moderate temperature of 25–30 degrees, and light wind. Towards the end of the race the heat did begin to take its toll but there were frequent refreshment stands along the way that gave everyone the opportunity to cool-down somewhat at regular intervals.

No place for the Debutant
Despite fairly reasonable conditions, Forsmo would not recommend this Marathon for the debutant.

The heat can be problematic, along with the possibility of sand storms which necessitates the wearing of face protection. These factors can make it difficult to see properly, and a mouth full of sand does not exactly help to alleviate thirst.

The participants lived among refugee families for a week.

They were really hospitable, always cheerful and obliging. I was impressed over how happy they appeared to be despite the extremely poor living conditions, said Anders Forsmo, who has already begun thinking about the next Sahara Marathon.

Translated from Norwegian by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara
[Norwegian original]




Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.

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