One of the world’s most gruelling races takes place in the Tunisia desert in June of each year. The official name is the Tunisian Oasis Race although it’s also known as the Tunisian Desert Classic and The World’s Hardest Triathlon. It’s loosely based on an epic Saharan escape behind enemy lines by a British soldier during WWII.
Quite simply, contestants in the race must make their way through 80 miles of desert between Tatouine and Houmt Souk on the island of Djerba. Competitors carry a bicycle in case there’s any terrain where they can ride without sinking in the sand. There are no refreshments available on the course so the competitors have to climb coconut palms and hack down the fruit, which will provide them with much needed liquid. No running can take place on a tarmac’ed road or the contestant will be disqualified.
Contestants set out at dawn and head northwards from Tatouine towards the Sebkhet el Melah, a large salt sea, where competitors can sometimes use their bikes to ride across the salt-crusted ground. Once the salt sea ends, the racers head to the Mediterranean coast and then swim over to the island of Djerba before running to Houmt Souk. On land the route is marked by a red camel on a black background and inflatable red camels ten yards apart mark the safe swimming channel for the athletes in the Mediterranean.