The Eco Race in the Sahara

On the 2nd of October the 5th edition of the Ultra Mirage El Djerid (UMED) was held in Tunisia. The UMED Race Series is the desert Ultra (50 km and 100 km) for single runners from all over the world.

The event is organized in El Djerid region, in the town of Tozeur, every first weekend of the month of October. The UMED Race Series is organized by the Association Ultra Marathon Tunisie, a non-profit organization whose only motive is to help promote the sport and El Djerid region.

El Djerid is an area in the Sahara desert which is well known for its stunning surroundings with a mixture of rocky mountains, valleys, salt lakes and desert dunes. The region has been the background of famous movies including Star Wars, the English Patient just to name a few. The diversity and the beauty of El Djerid makes it a major attraction for tourists from all around the world. Travellers from over 20 countries come to the region for the sport event.

The ecological initiative is no less important. On the 25th of October a memorandum was signed between the Association Ultra Marathon Tunisie, the organizer of this event, and the association Soli & Green / Tounes Clean-Up. The document is a part of the promotion of the project «A runner = a planted tree». This year about 300 runners have participated in the race, so 300 trees are going to be planted. The initiative is designed to support reforestation in Tunisia, as well as promote the recycling of plastic waste.

The association Soli & Green is aimed at the prevention of ecological disasters all over the world by organizing reforestation, cleaning, sorting and recycling of plastic waste and advocates a responsible attitude to nature.

Plastic-free goods is another concept that the race is based on. The organizers are very careful in selecting suppliers who adhere to their principles and they also want to deliver the most eco-friendly experience, so all plastic water bottles left after the marathon will have been recycled by 2025.

This race is open to all types of athletes, regardless of gender, country of origin and sport level. 283 runners from Algeria, Morocco, Canada, Germany, Nigeria and other countries have taken part in the marathon this year. They are both professional ultra runners and those who are just passionate about ultra trails.

Gender equality of the participants is one of the major values of the event. According to the organizers, it’s the first athletic event in the country to apply gender equality on all prize money.