The star of the recently finished Marathon des Sables, a grueling ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert, was not any of the professional endurance athletes sweating through nearly 141 miles of running. It was an athlete of a different species entirely. Cactus, a Moroccan dog with a love of running, joined the proceedings at day 2 of the race, and just kept on running. He finished the race last Thursday and, for good measure, continued running around the competitors’ area for the rest of the day.
Race organizers said Cactus just kinda wandered into the race area and started following the runners on day 2. He ended up completing more than 100 miles over the next week and even finished Stage 3 in 76th place out of nearly 800 runners.
A dog followed runners at the end of stage 2 and he keeps following them during this stage. Now more than 10,7 km in the race, and he’s first of his category!#MDS2019 #MARATHONDESSABLES pic.twitter.com/QP3Iksk5UV
— MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathonDsables) April 9, 2019
Doctors regularly checked up on Cactus to be sure his paws were in good condition and that he was drinking, and he checked out with a clean bill of health. Race organizers even gave him his own race number and a SPOT tracker so his movements could be followed. He slept wherever he felt like in the competitor’s area and quickly made friends.
No stranger to long runs in the desert, his owner knew he’d tagged along and figured he was having a good time, so what was the harm in letting Cactus finish the race? She wrote the following on the race’s Facebook page.
“If I can pick him up I will but I also know he’s having the greatest time so please people let me know where he is now and where you are heading tomorrow… I miss him but he’s having fun. He is a nomad dog and often travels 40 Km a day around this area…just for fun. Please look after him and get him home…”