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This printable supports Common Core ELA Standards ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1, ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 and ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3

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Analyzing an Informational Text (Grade 9)

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Analyzing an Informational Text

Every year since 1986, some of the world's most daring runners have gathered in the desert of Morocco. They are there to take part in one of the most difficult races in the world. The Marathon of the Sands, as it is called, covers over 125 miles of desert and mountain wilderness. The runners complete the course in fewer than seven days, and they run with their food, clothing, and sleeping bags on their backs.

The Marathon of the Sands was founded in 1986 by Patrick Bauer. His idea was to give the runners, who come from all over the world, a special kind of adventure. Most of the runners in this race have found that they form deep friendships with the other runners during their days and nights in the desert. Facing terrible heat and complete exhaustion, they learn much about themselves and each other.

For most of the runners, though, the challenge of the race is the main reason for coming. On the first day, for example, they run fifteen miles across a desert of sand, rocks, and thorny bushes. Few runners finish the day without blistered and raw feet. They also suffer from a lack of water. (They are allowed less than nine quarts of water during each day of the race.) Most of all, they are exhausted when they arrive at the campsite for the night.

The second day, the runners are up at 6:00 A. M. Within a few hours, it is 100 degrees F, but the runners do not hesitate. They must cover eighteen miles that day. That night, they rest. They must be ready for the next day's run.

On the third day, the runners must climb giant sand dunes- the first they have faced. Dust and sand mix with the runners' sweat. Soon their faces are caked with mud. After fifteen miles of these conditions, the runners finally reach their next camp.

The race continues like this for four more days. The fourth and fifth days are the worst. On the fourth day, the runners pass through a level stretch and a beautiful, tree-filled oasis, but then, on this and on the next day, they cross more than twenty-one miles of rocks and sand dunes. The temperature soars to 125 degrees F, and many runners cannot make it. Helicopters rush fallen runners to medical help. Runners who make it to the end of the fifth day know that the worst is over.

On the sixth day, heat and rocks punish the racers terribly. In the Valley of Dra, the wind picks up and, as the desert heat is thrust against them with great force, they grow more and more exhausted.

The seventh day is the last, with only twelve miles to be covered. The dusty, tired, blistered runners set out at daybreak. Near the finish line, children race along with the runners, for everybody has caught the excitement. The ones who have run the whole marathon know they have accomplished what most people could not even dream of. "During the hard moments," says one contestant who has raced here twice, "I'd think, 'Why am I here?' Then I'd realize I was there to find my limits."
1. 
What is the main idea of this passage?
  1. The Marathon of the Sands race tests the limits of human endurance
  2. The runners run at their own pace.
  3. The race causes the strong to stumble and the weak to not finish.
2. 
Why do most runners run the race?
  1. For the challenge
  2. For the experience
  3. To connect with other runners
  4. To enjoy the chance to experience Morocco
3. 
The Marathon of the Sands is nicknamed "the toughest footrace on Earth."
Based on the passage, why do you think that is?



4. 
The Marathon of the Sands is the same distance as a regular marathon.
  1. True
  2. False
5. 
Summarize what happens on each day of the race.



6. 
At the end of the passage one of the contestants says he's there to find his limits. What does he mean?



7. 
Some of the official literature from the race contains the following description:

"Imagine yourself in the Sahara desert with nothing but rolling sand dunes for miles around. When you plough your feet through the sand, a fine dust kicks up. You can’t feel the sweat dripping down your face because it’s evaporating in the baking heat. Your lungs feel parched. Today’s temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees centigrade). Part of your brain is screaming at you to stop, right now, to drop out of the race, but the other part of your brain is stronger. The other part of your brain knows that when you complete the final stage of the Marathon des Sables, you will have run the equivalent of five and a half marathons in five or six days, a total distance of some 251 km – 156 miles*. (*Subject to the race route)

No one can deny that finishing the MdS is an incredible accomplishment. But more importantly, you will walk away with a new slant on life - that you can achieve anything you set your mind to do."

This excerpt seeks to...
  1. Glamorize the race to encourage others to run
  2. Show the reality of the race
  3. Describe the horrid conditions of the race
  4. Discourage people from running the race.
8. 
"No one can deny that finishing the MdS is an incredible accomplishment. But more importantly, you will walk away with a new slant on life - that you can achieve anything you set your mind to do."

The statement above would be supported by the original passage.
  1. True
  2. False
9. 
To encourage people to enter the race, organizers include the following quote:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe

Why do you think this is?



10. 
The third day of the race is the longest, most agonizing day.
  1. True
  2. False

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