Sun, sand and 250km of grit

Under the searing Moroccan sun, 1,100 brave souls set off on what has been called the toughest foot race on earth - the Marathon des Sables - on Sunday.

It is the 31st edition of the marathon, which covers over 250km in six days in one of the world's most inhospitable climates - the Sahara desert, where temperatures can top 50 deg C.

Besides the heat, participants have to contend with the uneven, hilly and stony terrain.

They carry what they need to survive for the duration of the race, while running, walking or limping on blistered, battered feet.

Water is rationed and a tent is provided each evening, which must be shared with seven other racers.

About 19,000 have taken part in the marathon, started in 1986 by Frenchman Patrick Bauer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Sun, sand and 250km of grit'. Print Edition | Subscribe