Run the Sahara

Run the Sahara is Sandblast’s annual awareness and fundraising project connected to the international sporting event known as the Saharamarathon, a unique and inspiring international competition that takes place in aid of the Saharawi refugees. You can choose to run a full marathon, a half marathon, 10km or 5km. But if you don’t like to run, you are more than welcome to come along and walk it instead!

Saharamarathon 2011

As the official UK facilitator, Sandblast’s role is to take the headache out of organizing the week long trip to participate in the Sahara marathon. Along with providing logistical support, we organize a special educational/cultural programme to  enrich your experience during your stay.

If you register to join through Sandblast you will be supporting our activities in the camps, to empower the refugees through the arts. 

Smara camp, where the race takes place

Your participation will specifically help to raise money for our exciting Studio-Live project. This initiative aims to create the basis for emerging and established artists in the camps to develop professionally and reach international audiences through their music. Over the next few years, the refugees will become skilled and acquire the means to record, produce and showcase their music to high standards. The recording studio that we plan to set up in a newly built music centre, hopes to contribute to the preservation of the rich Saharawi oral heritage which is being lost as the elders die out.

Sandblast festival 2007

Since 2009, close to 50 people have run for Sandblast and helped raised over £35,000 for Studio-Live. You can make a vital difference!

'I'm running for sandblast'

About the Sahara Marathon
Not to be confused with the Marathon des Sables, in Morocco, the Sahara Marathon takes place in the Algerian Sahara in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf. It is organized by the refugees and volunteers from around the world. The event was born out of a desire to find a way to help raise the visibility of the Saharawi plight as well as funds for projects to improve the lives of the long-term refugees.

The first Sahara Marathon took place in 2001 and every year has been attracting growing numbers of participants from around the globe. The UK runners are joined by runners from all over the world from over 20 countries. Generally up to 400 or  so runners join internationally. An equal number of Saharawis also usually participate.
The day of the race


“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 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 Saharawis was truly touching. It’s an event that anyone who likes a strong  physical challenege or who cares about the Saharawi people absolutely must attend.”
UK participant 2009

Runners in the Dunes

“Wonderful people, place and community. A week felt like a lifetime, packed with adventure and unforgettabe experiences.”
Fleur Hutchinson, UK participant 2009
“Memorable, interesting and fun. It was stimulating to have a break that makes you pause to think about important international goings-o 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

Runners 2010

“It will change your life, you perspective, your priorities, and it might just help to change the lives of 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, UK participant 2011


Further Information
Next race: 22 February - 2 March, 2013
Download an Information Pack for Run the Sahara 2013
Register now for Run the Sahara 2013! Fill in a Registration Form
The overall costs to participate are around £1000 (everything included)
If you have any further questions please email us