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PHOTOS: Morocco’s Epic Marathon des Sables

A 6-day, 156-mile trek across the Sahara Desert, in pictures.

More than 1,300 runners started the 30th edition of the Marathon des Sables (the Marathon of the Sands) across southern Morocco on April 6. The grueling six-day, 156-mile race across the Sahara Desert—which includes a 57-mile day on the fifth day—requires participants to carry everything necessary for survival except water (which is provided at checkpoints along the way). Runners are given a place in a tent to sleep at the end of each stage, but all other equipment and food must be carried over the entire route. This year’s race was won by Morocco’s Rachid El Morabity (who won for the second straight year and the third time since 2011) in a cumulative time of 20 hours, 21 minutes and 39 seconds, while Sweden’s Elisabeth Barnes was the women’s winner in 26:42:13 (20th overall). Dave Mackey, of Boulder, Colo., was the top finisher among the 38 U.S. runners in the race in 12th place (24:11:09), while Meghan Hicks of Moab, Utah, was the top American woman and fifth female finisher in 95th place overall (31:29:59). Click through the gallery of photos to get a glimpse at what the runners endured. Photos: Cimbaly/E.Sampers-MDS2015