Sahara Marathon 2017

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Escrito el 20 April 2017, 18:58

It has already been a while since we came back from the Saharaui refugee camps at Smara where we were to take part in the 17th edition of the Sahara Marathon for the 5kms race. Of course, and to be honest, the most important thing for us, we could visit Omar and his family. Omar is a saharaui boy we hosted all the summers from 2011 to 2014 with the program Vacaciones en Paz (Holidays in Peace), although in his last 2 years (2015 y 2016) we couldn’t host because we were already living in UK.

I would love to say that it has been an amazing experience, but I can’t as it hasn’t been, although Omar’s family has made a big effort so that we were in the best possible conditions and I can 100% assure, they did it, but the extreme conditions in which the Saharaui people has been living for more than 40 years are tough and unfair (

After just one week living there, you can find dust and sand in every part of your body and the clothes than in the morning are black, in the afternoon are yellow. The same clothes you can’t even wash because the water is a resource that you can’t easily find there, as it is periodically delivered by lorries. The house are usually made with clay, with corrugate roofs, which of course allows the sand and dust gets into houses.

On the streets you can find dead goats, the skeleton of abandoned cars and other stuff, some of them even dangerous, that children take advantage of them to take out their imagination and play with them. Children, most of them walk barefoot and they usually look happy, what others even would say, they don’t even know what is really going on. They don’t know that no institution is doing anything at all to help to sort out their issue.

Luckily, Spanish citizens, not the central government, have always helped the Saharaui people and even companies and local institutions collaborate with them somehow. For instance, the buses the organization use to transport runners. Those buses are the typical regular buses in Spain that are not valid to be driven anymore but in the Sahara, they fix them and put them back on track to the last breath. We even had an issue with one of them the first night during the trip from the Tindouf airport to the refugee camps in Smara. Our bus was not able to put the 3rd gear so we had to take another bus in the middle of the night. Four days later, we saw this bus working back again.

But without any doubt I want to remember the best things of this trip and this has been having the possibility of knowing Omar’s family face to face after so many years and see how they have done everything in their hands so we were in the best possible conditions. If you are wondering if I would come back again, the answer is definitely yes, the good things are far better than the bad ones and that is basically because thanks to friends, family and un known unknown people, we raised circa 1200€ that we decided to donate fully to power the schools in Smara with electricity. Again, thanks to those who collaborate somehow with the cause.

I will also remember having the possibility of meeting the winner of the Sahara Marathon 2016 who finished in the 2nd position this year, Vicente Grande Duque. Vicente raised a bunch of money and computers for the project Bubisher, a network of libraries in the Saharaui refugee camps.

if you want to watch an documentary about how the Sahara Marathon went, I would definitely recommend you to check this video produced by Rusia Today. We have also uploaded the pictures we took during that week to a Flickr album

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