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A death during the 2021 Marathon des Sables has been confirmed when a male competitor suffered a heart attack.

Apparently, the runner is from France and at least age 50.

Photo credit: Marathon des Sables

Organisers say that he received immediate help from competitors, who also happened to be doctors. The doctors alerted organisers to the situation after analyzing the Frenchman. He was subsequently treated and flown by helicopter out of the area. There was apparently a long effort to resuscitate him before flying him out.

The 156-mile ultra-marathon race is currently taking place in the Sahara desert in the south of Morocco.

“Out of respect for the family of this competitor, his anonymity will remain preserved,” said Race Director Patrick Bauer.

From the Marathon des Sables website:

“This afternoon at 17:00 GMT, a French participant in the 35th MARATHON DES SABLES suffered a fainting spell in the Merzouga dunes. The man, who was in his early fifties and had fulfilled all the medical requirements for the race, had successfully completed the first stage without the need for medical assistance. After he collapsed, he was immediately rescued by two other competitors who are also doctors, who triggered the SOS button on his beacon and started the heart massage protocol. The event’s Medical Director arrived on the scene within minutes by helicopter and took over from the participants. After forty-five minutes of resuscitation, the medical team had to pronounce him dead. This is the third time that such an event has occurred on the MARATHON DES SABLES in 35 editions.