I decided to take a break from my Morocco bicycle tour and run a marathon in the exotic city of Marrakech. To get to Marrakech from the coast, I had to cycle 190 miles from the small surf town of Taghazout, traversing the incredible Atlas Mountain range. Unfortunately, I drastically underestimated the amount of recovery time I would need after that ride.
Running the Marrakech Marathon
I arrived in Marrakech two days earlier. Now, I find myself toeing the start line at the Marrakech Marathon at 5:45 am.
The starting gun fires, and I am off. It didn’t take long before I realized it was going to be a painfully long day. I was only 2-miles into the 26.2 when my upper thighs were severely cramped. It was so painful, running became impossible. By the third mile, I was in dead last place.
Ready to run the Marrakech Marathon
I’ve run dozens of marathons in my life, along with numerous ultra running races. Some up to 100-miles, yet I have never experienced any pain like this in my thighs. It was brutal.
I had a decision to make. I could quit, stop the excruciating pain immediately, return to my hotel and rest, or I could walk the remaining miles. I decided to walk.
Not only did I decide to finish, but I also wanted to do it within the 5-hour and 30-minute cutoff. Which meant I would have to jog occasionally.
The day wore on. I eventually was able to accept the pain. I kept moving as quickly as possible, continually staring at my watch.
It was not a fun day. I’ll spare you the details, but after 5-hours and 24-minutes, I finished the race. It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done.
After the Marrakech Marathon, I needed a day of rest before continuing my Morocco bicycle tour. I spent the day walking and exploring the walled city. I said it before in a previous post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Marrakech is a magical place.
Eating Snails in Marrakech
The narrow alleys of Marrakech are endless. With something to see around every corner. There are 1,000’s of shops selling everything imaginable. Food choices range from high-end steakhouses to small food carts, along with everything in between.
While in Marrakech, I got a little adventurous with my food choices. In the main square of Jemaa El-Fna, I tried steamed freshwater snails and lamb brains. In a dim back alley, I discovered the best fish sandwich I had ever eaten. As much as I enjoyed so many new flavor and meals during my stay, I left Marrakech, knowing I barely scratched the surface.
I visited a traditional Moroccan bathhouse called a hamman. Let’s say it was quite an experience.
Bicycle Touring Marrakech to Casablanca
After almost a week in Marrakech, it was time to head back to Casablanca. Roughly a 150-miles, the plan was to break the ride up into three days.
That first day my legs ached, but it felt great to be back on the road bicycle touring. I pedaled along, enjoying the rolling hills of the countryside and
Battling traffic in Casablanca
I spent a pleasant night in Ben Guerir and in the morning enjoyed another day of cycling. At the end of that day, I found a hotel room in the bustling town of Settat.
On the final day of my Moroccan bicycle tour, I took it slow. I had been out on the road for over a month. I hated for it to end.
As I merged into the heavy traffic of Casablanca for my final miles, the reality that such a wonderful journey was coming to an end. I wasn’t sad. It was such an amazing experience. The country is remarkably beautiful. The Moroccan people are so warm and kind. They made me feel so welcome in their country. I knew I’d be back.
Cycling Iceland’s Ring Road for me was extremely tough physically and mentally. Every day was an absolute soul-sucking struggle until the end. It took everything I had to finish in 14 days. Here are the things I wish I knew before starting my trip.
I was cycling South along the Moroccan coastline as the sun began to rise and revealed the surf. There was a beautiful head high groundswell. The surf was epic! I hadn’t planned on surfing that first day, but the ocean was too tempting on that chilly January morning, so I began looking for a spot.
I’m in Laos. I’m on the other side of the world riding my bicycle. Everyone I know and love is over 8,000 miles away. Most of the time it gives me a thrill to focus on this. Other times, I’m overwhelmed with loneliness.