A Stray Dog Joined a 140-mile Race in the Sahara (and Stayed to Get His Medal)
The Marathon des Sables in Morocco is a grueling run through the desert that is often considered the toughest footrace on earth. It takes six days to complete the 140-mile course through the tough Moroccan sands. This year, the race’s most interesting competitor was a very good boy — named Cactus.
The race began on Sunday. On Monday, there was a new four-legged competitor. He appears to have just shown up on the second day and joined the pack. The runners began referring to him as “Cactus the MDS Dog.”
“After running the second part of Stage 2, he stayed the night at the bivouac and took the start of the third stage this morning!” race organizers shared on Instagram.
Cactus ran nearly 15 miles on the first day he joined. On Tuesday, he completed the full 23 miles and was doing quite well. (Although having four legs may be an advantage.) On the third day of the race, Cactus placed 57th.
Cactus quickly became not only a mascot for those runner but a valiant competitor in his own right. After a long day on the course, observers reported that he was still in “very good shape, has eaten, drunk, he keeps running everywhere in the camp.”
The longest day of the race was Wednesday, a 47-mile stretch that organizers give competitors 31 hours to complete. Cactus breezed through the event, completing it in only 11 hours and 15 minutes, according to Sports Illustrated.
Cactus was well cared for throughout the course. People checked in on him, gave him water and food. Organizers checked for blisters on his feet and found none. It seemed that Cactus was made to run in the desert.
He quickly became such a celebrity that race organizers gave him a GPS tracker so fans could follow his progress throughout the race.
Cactus finished the race on Friday and was even awarded with a medal, alongside the title “first dog to complete the Marathon de Sables.”
There is no word yet what will be the next stop in Cactus’s promising running career.