the Sahara Marathon was held on 26 February for the 18th year in a row with the aim to pay attention to more than 170.000 people lived in refugee camps in the desert for over 40 years. the Two swedes, Jonathan Fahlén and Li Edkvist, became the first swedes to win the race where over 500 people attended.
Fahlén belong to the sports club Proletären FF, in Gothenburg, and say that it was a great honor to win but it was not the main thing.
– As an athlete, actually, regardless of whether one is elite or exerciser, you have a responsibility the positions you do. Many runners choose to run the marathon in Morocco. Then there will be a way to give legitimacy to the burmese regime that is a dictatorship and an occupying power. It felt, in our club more right to run in the western Sahara and to take a stand for the nation and to the sahrawi people, " he says.
Li Edkvist is on the same track.
– It is a conflict that you rarely hear about now on the news. It felt like all of them received us in a very positive way and were pleased that we want to support them in their cause. In addition, with such a simple thing like running. For me, it was very important to participate in this race, " she says.
they were very well met and received on-the-spot.
" We lived an entire week at a västsaharisk family in the midst of this inaccessible desert landscape. We were very friendly treated, it was awesome to see how they live in the camps. It was transformative in a positive way to meet so friendly people even though they have little assets, " says Li Edkvist and continues.
" You get a perspective on their own life and after a week I was able to travel home, but these people are stuck in a situation in this unresolved conflict.
Both of the two have taken much, in addition to the participation in the race.
– This is unfortunately an issue that very few in Sweden know, it is a forgotten conflict. For us, the actual travel associated with the course provided a chance to get to know the people on the spot and establish contacts with various people who are active there. It can hopefully lead to cooperation or exchange in the future, we hope, " says Jonathan Fahlén.
that she for a moment was doubtful if she would go there because of the possible uncertainty.
I reflected a bit over to go to the area before but once I was there I felt extremely safe. It was very much the military and police there and it is very much in their interest that we who come are well taken care of and nothing can happen to us. So when I was there it felt very safe.
the Actual victory for the the two priority further down, but both are glad that they managed to win. Li Edkvist graduated in goal of 4 hours and 33 minutes and the runner Jonathan Fahlén went in goal in 2 hours and 52 minutes.
" It feels overwhelming. I never knew that I would win but it was incredibly awesome and an experience I will not forget in a hurry, " says Edkvist.
the Race is considered as one of the world's toughest marathon.
– It is extremely hot to begin with, although it can be much warmer, it is still spring in the Sahara. For me it was very hot and then running it actually in the desert. There are no roads or so, but we run in the sand, " she says.
of Emmaus Stockholm, sweden, Afrikagrupperna and Practical Solidarity.
" We have worked with this to get more people to pay attention to the conflict. Also to find another entrance so that it is not only the politically active who may find out what's happening in western Sahara and the situation in the sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. We do this because there will be more attention in the question simply, " says Caroline Nord, head of communications, Emmaus Stockholm.
" We shall, of course, have respect for the region, but it is a place where the UN and international ngos are working and moving every day. We have a good security strategy, and it has the sahrawi authorities on the ground also, so we have made the assessment that we can go there.
– Now it was a very special week because it was the Sahara Marathon, and the western Sahara national day so it was very happy and they celebrated. But if you look through it, it is very quiet and peaceful. You can't really build on the sand, you just get 18-19 litres of water per day and not as in Sweden where we consume about 180 gallons of water per day. There are very many shortcomings and it is clear that it is not a place, it is intended that the people should live, " says Caroline Nord.
It was the fifth consecutive year, the Sahara Marathon has been held, and Caroline Nord says that, most likely, will be a new trip in the next year.