In this article, we preview the Race Against the Sun exhibit at the Gallery of Arts and History at Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion.
The Gallery of Arts and History is located at Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion in the World Showcase. Over the years, the gallery has hosted various Moroccan exhibits.
Currently, the Gallery of Arts and History is home to the Race Against the Sun exhibit, which showcases two modern races, Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) and Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc (Rally of the Gazelles), that take place in the Sahara Desert.
As you enter the Morocco Pavilion, you’ll find the exhibit on the immediate left. Two large double doors serve as the only entrance and exit to the gallery.
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Race Against the Sun
Race Against the Sun Exhibit
While the exhibit is relatively small, it’s worth taking a moment to step inside and observe.
You might be surprised to find so much information in such a small space.
What was once considered an ancient technique is now a modern competition. Many Moroccan ancestors journeyed across the desert as part of their lifestyle.
However, they now face the Sahara for an extreme sporting event–racing.
One corner of the exhibit is dedicated to walking races. This refers to the Marathon des Sables.
Runners must carry mandatory and race-provided survival items. However, they can select their clothing and gear as part of their strategy.
Their goal is to minimize weight, maximize comfort, and have protection from the sand and sun. This display also notes that mentally preparing for and winning this battle is the key to race success.
Here is an example of the runner’s essential gear.
A mannequin provides an example of a runner’s appearance upon starting the race.
Here’s a closer look.
The Marathon des Sables is a six-day route through the Sahara. Each leg ranges from 30 km (19 mi) to more than 80 km (52 mi). For reference, the latter is double a standard marathon.
Other circumstances the runners face are the climate and terrain. In the daytime, temperatures soar over 100 degrees; in the evening, they can drop to as low as 40 degrees.
Additionally, runners face dunes, mountain ranges, and other topical rural medinas as they race through the desert. When they cross the finish line, they will have run the equivalent of six marathons in six days.
In addition, there’s a display that discusses nutrition and hydration. These are all essential items for survival.
Here are a few more items the runners carry with them.
Several runners are mentioned, like Touda Didi, the first Moroccan woman to win the Marathon des Sables.
Lahcen Ahansal is a ten-time winner of the Marathon des Sables. He holds the record for the most wins and fastest speed.
As we move toward the center of the exhibit, directly across from the double-door entry, we see the race turn to the Rally of the Gazelles.
A portion of the display shares the story of Moroccan sisters Sihame Nabil and Amel Elkhal. This duo was the first ever to participate in this race across the desert in an electric car.
The exhibit has the sister’s outfits and helmets on display.
In addition, there’s a simulated race car that guests can take for a spin.
Here are a few more photos.
Lastly, the opposite corner of the Race Against the Sun exhibit takes a look back at the traditions of the Moroccans.
Tents and tea were both of importance.
Additionally, clothing was designed to cover nearly every inch of the body. The sign below reads, “These choices may seem counterintuitive for life in such extreme temperatures, but they are actually grounded in science.”
Here are a few more photos of items in the Gallery of the Arts and History.
Overall, the entire Race Against the Sun exhibit in Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion is fascinating. I don’t know about you, but I had no idea that people trained and raced across the Sahara on foot.
For more details, you may enjoy these other pavilion reviews:
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In the Comments
What do you think about the Gallery of Arts and History in the Morocco Pavilion? Have you had an opportunity to see the Race Against the Sun Exhibit?