Alone in Sahara Desert

Alone in Sahara Desert


After getting lost in the Sahara desert, athlete Mauro Prosperi walked 186 miles in ten days for safety. To deal with intense heat and dehydration, he drank his urine and bat blood. He survived.


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Mauro, a police officer from Sicily, was one of just 80 participants in the race that year. He spent eight hours waiting out the storm, huddled in a sand dune. The following day, he expected to see rescuers heading his way. Instead, all he saw was desert in all directions.

“After running for about four hours, I climbed up a dune and still couldn’t see anything,” he said. “That’s when I knew I had a big problem.”

A search party was organized to find Mauro, but rescuers had no idea he had veered so far off course. A helicopter circled over his head twice, and twice they didn’t see him frantically waving at them from below. He sent up his only flare and even set his backpack on fire, hoping to catch their attention, but it was no use.

“When the plane headed away from me, I said to myself, ‘There goes my life,” he said.

When Mauro’s water ran out, he drank his urine. He found a marabout shrine on day four, an ancient building that once served as a tomb. He took shelter from the sun’s relentless rays, drinking the blood of bats that hung in the eaves to stay alive.

After days of suffering, Mauro scrawled a goodbye note to his wife on the tomb wall and prepared to meet his untimely end. When he didn’t die, he woke up with new resolve. “I realized that the marathon was moving on, that I couldn’t rely on the race officials to save me,” he said. “I decided I must confront the desert myself.”

So Mauro set off once more, licking dew from rocks and hunting for insects and snakes to eat. He buried himself in the sand to stay warm at night. He found a tiny oasis with a puddle of fresh water on the eighth day, filling himself to the brim before soldiering on.

After ten days in the desert, Mauro staggered into the camp of a nomadic tribe called the Taureg. They took him in and gave him goat’s milk and mint tea, eventually delivering him to safety.

After wandering 186 miles off course, Mauro weighed just 97 pounds. He wasn’t even in Morocco anymore, finding himself in Algeria instead. After being treated in the hospital for dehydration, sunburn, and a failing liver, he made a full recovery!


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