Marathon des Sables
The Marathon des Sables, an annual 'ultramarathon' which takes place in the Moroccan Sahara desert, is regarded as the most grueling foot race on earth. Contestants from across world run the equivalent of five marathons - over 150 miles - in six days, carrying a backpack containing everything they will eat and otherwise need to survive a week in the desert (except their water, which is provided in precise rations by the race organizers).
One stage of the the 2015 race, its 30th edition, is nearly 60 miles long, and requires the contestants to run through the entire day, when temperatures reach 125 degrees fahrenheit, and into the night when temperatures drop to 40 degrees and winds reach 40 miles per hour, many reaching the end of that stage around 24 hours after setting off.
For me, there is an interesting relationship between the profoundly personal and solitary struggle through which each contestant goes and the strong sense of community amongst the runners which they almost all cite as the backbone of the experience, and also between the beautiful, vast, and unforgiving landscape in which they compete and the individual bodies and minds of the contestants, which are put under almost unbearable strain.
Marathon Des Sables ran across six pages in the September 2015 issue of ESPN The Magazine, was awarded First Place in PDN's The Shot 2016 competition, is a selected winner in American Photography 32, and has been awarded Second Place in the photo essay category of the 2016 National Headliner Awards.