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Type: Open-Ended
Category: Summarizing
Level: Grade 9
Standards: CCRA.R.2, RI.9-10.2
Tags: ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2
Author: szeiger
Created: 6 years ago

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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."

Grade 9 Summarizing CCSS: CCRA.R.2, RI.9-10.2

Summarize what happens on each day of the race.
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