CURWOOD: April first marks the start of the annual Marathon of the Sands, and Lawrence of Arabia couldn't have asked for a more grueling ordeal. The 155-mile foot race begins in Ouarazazate, Morocco, with 700 people hoping to complete the course across the Sahara Desert in temperatures ranging from 40 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Marathon officials provide racers with two-and-a-half gallons of water and a tent, but the runners have to shoulder the rest. A checklist of carefully-packed supplies usually includes Power Bars and ramen for meals, antiseptic for scorpion bites, and signal flares, in case the desert heat gets too disorienting. Competition is difficult and dangerous. During the 1994 marathon, Mauro Prosperi, a police officer from Rome, got lost in a sand storm for nine days. He survived on boiled urine and dead bats. But Senor Prosperi has been back twice to race the Marathon of the Sands. He says someday he hopes to become the first person to walk across the entire Sahara Desert. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
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