Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Last weekend's activities

To all those who attended the Run the Sahara 2012 launch at the weekend, thank you for your interest and we hope the afternoon's events tempted you further!..

If you missed out on Saturday, here's some avenues for you to explore:

>> Further info can be found on our webpages

>> You can also visit our blog, where we share past participant's stories plus more

>> Or how about twitter! We tweet motivational running quotes, provide news & info about the race, Western Sahara and share 'tips & tricks' to help you train! Follow @RuntheSahara_SB or find us through @sandblastarts

Best wishes,
Sandblast Team.

Friday, 30 September 2011


As part of our Run the Sahara 2012 launch event, the award-winning documentary 'El Problema' will be screening at Riverside Studios (Hammersmith, London) this Saturday 1st October at 3pm. Buy your tickets here.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Press release: Jon Snow lends support to charity-run launch for refugees from Western Sahara

Jon Snow lends support to charity-run launch for refugees from Western Sahara

When: Saturday October 1st, 3pm –5:50pm. (3-4:40pm is the El Problema screening and talk)
Where: Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London W6 9RL
Contact: or call 07838463310

In a recent statement made to London-based Sandblast charity, journalist Jon Snow highlights the serious lack of media attention given to the conflict in Western Sahara and supports and supports the efforts of its “Run the Sahara 2012” campaign to raise awareness about the plight of a largely forgotten refugee community in the Sahara.

Launching on October 1st at Riverside Studios, Run the Sahara 2012 aims to get people involved in running in long distance races in the Algerian Sahara near Tindouf. Close to 200,000 Saharawis have been displaced there from Western Sahara for over 35 years and live in four large refugee camps. Funds raised through sponsorship will help support Sandblast's Studio-Live project, a music empowerment initiative being set up in the refugee camps to give artists opportunities to develop professionally and reach international audiences through music to express their culture and struggle more widely.

Monday, 26 September 2011


Our much anticipated Run the Sahara 2012 launch event is happening this Saturday:-

Sandblast invites you to a multi-media event
celebrating the launch of

Run the Sahara 2012

in support of music empowerment initiative Studio-Live

Saturday October 1st
3pm –5.50pm

Riverside Studios
Hammersmith, London W6 9RL

RSVP by: Sept 29, 2011 to

Featuring: a screening of the award-winning documentary 'El Problema,' readings by acclaimed playwright and poet Inua Ellams; a sneak preview of The Runner, the upcoming documentary about world-class Saharawi athlete Salah Ameidan; former Run the Sahara participants share their personal experiences and of course there will be the opportunity to sign up on the day to register for Run the Sahara 2012!

The entire event will take place in the Cinema venue with a short break for refreshments. We will carry on with the registration for Run the Sahara in the bar downstairs until 6.30pm.

Spread the word! We look forward to seeing you,
Sandblast Team

My Marathon in the Sahara, by Nick Horsfall

Here's something to inspire you... 
Starting out 
I've always been a sporty type, football being my main interest, but I got into long-distance running a couple of years ago. I'd always wanted to run a marathon and had watched the London Marathon on TV ever since I was a kid, wondering if I could do it.

In Nov '09 I was lucky enough to get a place on the New York marathon. The day was amazing. I achieved a time of 3:36 hours which, for my first marathon, I was really happy with. Not long afterwards I was offered a place through my work to run the London Marathon the following April ’10. Having enjoyed the New York so much I jumped at the chance and managed to achieve a time around London of 3:24 which I was thrilled at. Suddenly I was hooked! The buzz from crossing the finish line is something that is difficult to put into words.

I found myself surfing the internet looking for what other marathons there were around the world. Before I knew it I'd set myself a personal challenge to run a marathon on every continent. Having ran on two continents already, I started to look at possible marathons for the remaining 5 (including Australasia)...
Western Sahara Map
After a short time on google I came across which led me to My first thoughts were, "running a marathon through the Sahara Desert?!?!? How amazing would that be!!!" -Quickly followed by, "will I be able to do this? Will it be too hot?? What if I get kidnapped??? What it I get lost!.."

The adventurer in me won over and I started to look into the race. Reading through the website and peoples comments about their experiences of the SaharaMarathon and that increased my confidence enough to enter. I found the UK facilitators to be the Sandblast Charity group and so it began.

Run the Sahara 2012

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

For the Fighters & Lovers

A poem by Inua Ellams - 'Fighters and Lovers' calls to mind the plight of the Saharawi, and urges that we must hope. That there will be a future which doesn't conform to the present situation in the Western Sahara. That this future is destiny. 

When dawn breaks
like a stretched sonata silence brown handling
the fantastic blue, when dust litters this new quite
like the substance of prophecies before its period
of bloom, when life lulls the living back to its true paths

Our change will come.

It will come after a tumultus multitude of fighters
have expired for a reason not worth the breath
it is uttered with. It will come after the structures
of global lies fall, sparking the Exodus, movement
of the people with their minds in tow, it will come.

Then those born by the river will gather around
camp fires and finally stop running. The metronomic
yet melodious humming of tired mothers will reach
a crescendo and pause -  sailors will let up their oars
and let the current take them there

the powers of imagination will be fully revealed
to men, they will exactly who they are
and who they can be.

This will set us free falling towards a second of sensory
sovereignty as our senses go insane. That moment
will taste, like a teaspoon full of forbidden fruit shake.
Mixed with Lotus water and lugubriously ladled onto
a parched tongue till the whole mouths is rendered
rhapsodic reeling with intent wonder and hope.

It will smell like fresh pharaohs of the new sun, ancient
and young, like old wisdom riding a BMX between
freight trains in a freezing rain stained
with child’s play and laughter.

After, it will sound like a cello made of rosewood
exhaling soft poetry over a brown village at night
in the quite after the tempest goes making
the atmosphere finally feel good.

and it will feel like a hug
from God.

with a squeeze
saying “your time has come”.

And then our time will come.

Our suffering will be the greatest stories ever told.
Symbols of our heartache will be treasured in sacred
places as constant reminders that Love never fails,
never folds. Our tears will be recognized as rain clouds
and they will be danced beneath, this will be a reflex,
uncharted, untold, and our silences will be reincarnated
as light, after years of just being golden.

This is not fantasy; this is reality
with a dream complex.

I have seen it written in old books, it is the subject
of Negro spirituals, it has been spoken of by those
who trespassed in paradise and returned whole.

This is our destiny, we are destined to reach that goal.
Though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes
in the morning and as we suffer, we gain
the passage right. So grasp your tempest,
never let go, hold on, stay strong,
hold tight.

Malainin Aomar, soldier of the Polisario Front watching the Moroccan wall near Auserd. Photo by Andrew Mcconnell.

Inua Ellams is a 'word and graphic artist'. Born in Nigeria in 1984, he has been creating word and visual art with his own distinct style, described as "influenced by Classic literature as it is by hip hop, by Keats as it is by MosDef." He began is creative path by working with a pencil, which inspired him and drew him into the visual world. His current work is in graphic design, visual art and word art, both online and in print. If you'd like to know more about Inua, his website can be found at

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Making the decision to Run the Sahara may be one of the best decisions of your life. Since 2009, Sandblast has facilitated the UK's delegation to the Run the Sahara in Algeria. It is quite unlike any other physical challenge. The Saharan desert provides the backdrop to a run (5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon) and a week of cultural activities designed to bring you into the experience of the Saharawi refugees, compounded further by the experience of living in the refugee camp itself. Sandblast organises everything from the food you eat with your host family to meeting local figures in the community. Read below for a collection of testimonials from past runners: 

It was a privilege to have been involved, to have met like-minded people, to have experienced the hospitality of the Saharawis, to see the beauty of the dunes but also the desolation of the Hamada.
Peter Hamilton, UK participant 2009

This was a life changing experience for me and it will stay with me for a very long time.
Victoria Bavister, UK participant 2009

The views were spectacular especially on the run and in the dunes. The hospitality of the Saharawi was truly touching. It’s an event that anyone who likes a strong physical challenge. Whomever cares about the Saharawi people absolutely must attend.
UK participant 2009

Wonderful people, place and community. A week felt like a lifetime, packed with adventure and unforgettable experiences.
Fleur Hutchinson, UK participant 2010

Memorable, interesting and fun. Stimulating to have a break that makes you pause to think about important international goings-on that you don’t necessarily think about or encounter in everyday life, as well as the physical challenge of the run.
Julia Lutte, UK participant (and 3rd in Women’s Marathon!) 2010

It will change your life, your perspective, your priorities, and it might just help to change the lives of a people fighting for their fundamental rights to existence. Say no more!
Nina Murray, UK participant 2010

Was it what I expected? Would I go back? Would I recommend it? More. Yes. Unreservedly!
Mar Garvey, 2011 participant 

Now to bring you even closer to the runners' experiences:

To join up or learn more:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Svetlana Dimcovic's thoughts on 'El Problema'

Over the last couple of months, Sandblast has organised screenings of 'El Problema', a Spanish documentary which investigates the extent of the Moroccan occupational regime, and the human rights abuses which they enact on the Saharawi refugees. Svetlana Dimcovic, a director and writer, attended one of these screenings at the Freeword Centre on the 11th of July. What follows is her account of the screening:

El Problema

A long winding road.

Arabic signs passed quickly.

Someone speaking, his face not seen.

Instructions given to the backseat operator.
The guards will want this or that…better hide the camera.

But these are not journalists and this is not a news piece. The story unfolds. The car passes the controls. The driver is slowly revealed. He is guide, accomplice, teacher: he is taking the film  makers to the Saharawi people and the footage is not sanctioned. No one has commissioned these artists. No one is expecting this film. So they go on. Into the backstreets witnessing protests. Into people’s homes hearing their stories. Into courtrooms where the innocent await their fate, where the authority of the judge terrifies the young men in the dock.

The guide is beaten. We see the bruises. We see the price of the documentary on his skin and on his face. He is the one who didn’t get away.

The film makers capture what they need. Their camera sees, from the back seat of a moving car, what they could not hope to find without this man leading them to it. They make the film about Western Sahara that is not yet made.

They leave.

He stays, nursing his bruises, waiting.

The above photos are screenshots of 'El Problema'. The middle photo is of the Saharawi human rights defender Aminetou Haider whose comments on the Saharawi situation is particularly enlightening and revealing, as she herself was disappeared, and subsequently arrested.

Svetlana Dimcovic is a Director and Writer. She has recently set up a new writing collective in the Caribbean and regularly contributes to international forums on new writing. Svetlana Dimcovic – Director

Trained at the University of Birmingham, the Royal National Theatre Studio London and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon.

She has recently set up a new writing collective in the Caribbean and holds new writing workshops and programmes across the world.

She originated and led the Bush BEE Programme at the Bush Theatre, London (2009-2010), was Associate Director of the Gate Theatre, London (2003-2005), Associate Director of the Caird Company, London (2002-2005) and a Trainee Director at the Orange Tree Theatre (2001-2002).  

Her new writing work includes workshops for young playwrights and numerous translations for the Royal Court Theatre, RSC, BBC, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Company of Angels and the Caird Company.

Directing: Belfast Girls ( Kings Head Theatre), The Potting Shed by Graham Greene ( two sold out runs at the Finborough Theatre, 2010 and 2011), Oasis ( Scene Nationale de la Guadeloupe), Nine Night, 45 Minutes from Here (Bush Theatre, Square Chapel Halifax, Theatre in the Mill, Bradford), The God of Hell (Belgrade, Serbia), The Outside (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), Lithuanian Festival  (Southwark Playhouse), Zuva Crumbling (Lyric Hammersmith), The Professional (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Mushroom Pickers (Southwark Playhouse), Writer’s Generation (Arts Printing House, Vilnius, Lithuania) and The Broken Heel (Riverside Studios).