The Atlas Mountain Race is the new sister race to the Silk Road Mountain Race but without the high mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The inaugural edition opens the off-road unsupported ultra season from Marrakech at 9am on Saturday 15th. Racers face 1,145km of almost entirely unpaved roads with an occasional token stretch of tarmac. With 16,600m of climbing to do the riders have just under eight days to tick off the three checkpoints and make it to Sidi Rabat by midnight of Saturday 22nd. The clock doesn’t stop and the first rider to Sidi Rabat wins. Simple, in theory at least.
The race takes place in a desert mountain environment. It is a Northern Hemisphere mountain range at the end of winter and riders could be faced with a multitude of conditions. The Atlas Mountains can easily provide all four seasons in one day which will be sure to test the mettle of the racers. Daytime temperatures are forecast to sit between 15 and 25 degrees and night-time 0 to 8degrees, depending on elevation. This is most certainly a winter race and is reflected in the mandatory kit list which includes a down/synthetic jacket, a waterproof jacket, a survival blanket, two pairs of gloves and a “suitable sleeping system”. “Suitable” is sure to be interpreted differently and will likely distinguish the racers from the riders.
If the forecast is to be trusted, the riders will profit from a westerly tailwind on their approach to Sidi Rabat, and as the finish is West of Marrakech they may even be lucky enough to have more tailwind than headwind during the race. The finish also sits 400m lower than the start meaning riders have a negative net elevation, although 400m pales in comparison to the 16,600m total climbing involved.
We'll be bringing you updates from the road courtesy of Beccy Waters.