Ultra Marathoner and Free to Run Ambassador Jenny Davis organized an international women’s team with a mission to empower women through sport and inspire the next generation of female runners in Morocco.
Free to Run Ambassador Jenny Davis has formed the first international women's team to compete in the 2017 Marathon des Sables (MdS), also known as the toughest footrace on earth. The race is one of most famous ultra marathons in the world. Participants run over 250 km (approximately the distance of 6 marathons) in just 6 days through the Moroccan Desert, enduring temperatures that regularly reach 50 centigrade, and battle through endless dunes, rocky jebels, and white-hot salt plains. The team is made up of Moroccan elite runners Aziza Raji and Touda Didi, UK runner Lizzie Wraith, and team captain Jenny Davis.
The idea to form a global team of elite trail runners came to be after Jenny spent time training in Morocco with Mohamed Ahansal (five times winner of the Marathon des Sables). His brother, Lahcen Ahansal has won the race eleven times and it was the brother’s celebrity status in Morocco that led Jenny to realize the power that lay in having equivalent female role models, not just in Morocco but worldwide. The team firmly believes that creating more female role models in sport will help to inspire women all over the world to take on a challenge of their own.
After mentoring and training with Aziza and Touda over the past year, Jenny is confident that the team will reach their ultimate goal: a top 10 placing at MdS. “We can't wait to get started. Aziza is so incredible. There's no nerves there at all for her. Her game face is on and she's cool, calm, collected and ready. Touda has won MdS twice before and she knows exactly what she's doing,” says Jenny. “The women's field is incredibly strong this year which is amazing to see. We want as many women as possible to be encouraged to take part in these races!”
Team member Aziza Raji at Marathon des Sables 2017
Jenny explains that the Mds is a war of attrition and body management. The team’s strategy is to ease into the race and then increase their speed over the course of the week. They feel very dialed in to their post-training routines and will be repeating that in the desert. Touda and Aziza are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and setbacks, explaining that they have experienced many challenges as female athletes in their home country. They are hopeful that the team will be able to bring more awareness to women’s sport in Morocco. Says Touda: “My goal for this year’s race is to help women everywhere understand there are no boundaries in sport - age, sex, nationality - it is all irrelevant.”
Team member Touda Didi at Marathon des Sables
We wish the team the best of luck on this incredible journey and are so grateful for their fierce promotion of female empowerment through sport and their support of Free to Run! To follow the team live, visit: ow.ly/81cZ30aHFTs, or to donate to their Free to Run fundraiser, visit: ow.ly/6zhj30aHFUl.