The 29th edition of the gruelling Marathon des Sables got underway on Sunday against the stunning backdrop of the Merzouga dunes in the Sahara desert in southern Morocco.
Some 1 029 competitors started stage one of five, which was a 34 kilometre leg from Chebbi erg to Znaigui erg.
Although the going was tough for most, 2012 champion Rachid El Morabity of Morocco was looking in fine form and crossed over the line in a winning time of three hours four minutes and 56 seconds.
He was 12 seconds clear of compatriot and reigning champion Mohamad Ahansal.
In the women’s race French runner and three-time champion Laurence Klein highlighted her status as favourite again taking stage one honours ahead of American Nikki Kimball.