Marathon Men

The marathon leg of the 2017 Dakar Rally stretches from La Paz in Bolivia to Salta in Argentina, which for competitors means two full days of racing without any outside assistance. This is the Dakar in its most primal form.

Historically, the Dakar Rally has included one or more marathon legs as part of its route, both during its African days as well as the current South American era. The biggest test of the 2017 edition is currently underway, even if the itinerary has been modified somewhat.

Initially, competitors had been due to tackle 322 timed kilometres between La Paz and Uyuni in Bolivia, followed by a further 492km against the clock between Uyuni and Salta in Argentina, without assistance. Due to the adverse weather conditions, however, the first part was reduced to 161km, while the second section, on Tuesday, has been split into two sections (171km + 246km), making for a combined total of 578km.

Tonight, competitors are bedding down in a bivouac in Uyuni, while the overnight halt for their support crews is some 200km away in Tupiza. All external intervention is strictly forbidden, meaning that should they run into any mechanical issues, competitors must either try to rectify the problem themselves or else help each other out using the tools at their disposal. Changing tyres is permitted.

The majority of drivers and riders will sleep on camp beds in a dormitory at Uyuni’s military barracks – the third time that the Dakar has stopped there. In 2015, it was particularly cold! The organiser provides food, blankets and essential toiletries, while a heated room is available for drying clothes.

Competitors and their support crews will be reunited at the bivouac in Salta on Tuesday evening.

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