The annual Saharamarathon takes place on 28 February 2011 and is organised by a group of refugees from the camps and international volunteers. Sandblast (a London-based arts and human rights charity) has been officially facilitating UK participation since 2009.
Not to be confused with the Marathon des Sables, in Morocco, the Saharamarathon takes place in the Algerian Sahara in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf. It is organized by the refugees and volunteers from around the world and helps raise the visibility of the plight of close to 200, 000 Saharawis, as well as funds for projects to improve the lives of these long term refugees, who have been stranded in harsh desert camps since 1975.
The first Saharamarathon took place in 2001 and every year has been attracting growing numbers of participants from around the globe. In 2010, 27 runners participated from the UK (the highest number yet). They raised over £20,000 for our Saharawi Artist Fund, which finances arts and cultural development projects in the refugee camps. In total, over 400 runners came from 22 different countries. The event is professionally organized and draws top athletes as well as amateur runners.
Participants can run a full marathon, a half marathon, 10km or 5km. During their week in the camps, they stay with a Saharawi refugee family and get a unique chance to learn their story and experience the legendary hospitality of this exiled desert culture.
Sandblast’s role is to take the headache out of organizing all the logistical aspects of the trip and the stay in the camps. They deal with the flights, visas, accommodation etc. They also organize a special (and optional) educational/cultural programme for those wishing to enrich their experience while in the camps. This includes an evening on the dunes listening to live music and having a traditional desert feast.
Sandblast has had glowing feedback from runners of previous years so if anyone interested would like to speak to past participants, please let them know and they will be glad to put you in contact.
For more information on Sandblast and our Running the Sahara campaign, visit the website at http://www.sandblast-arts.org/ and www.sandblast-arts.org/projects/running-the-sahara respectively.
Email address to respond to: firstname.lastname@example.org