Sebastian Bühler and Adrien Van Beveren might be sitting in chairs and enjoying their food in bowls with utensils in this article’s featured image, but they won’t have such cozy confines or fine cuisine next year. Since the 2024 Dakar Rally‘s new Chrono Stage spans forty-eight hours and requires them to stay overnight in camps away from the bivouac, the Amaury Sport Organisation will supply a “military-type ration” for all competitors to stave off hunger.
According to L’Équipe, one of the ration packs will include items like sardines in oil, leek and potato soup, canned pasta with Bolognese sauce, cream of fruit, and coffee. A flameless heater, similar to what is used for military MREs, is also packaged; these operate by pouring water into the pouch, which triggers a chemical reaction that heats it up without the need for fire.
While L’Équipe and the ASO share a parent company, writer Jérôme Bourret did not mince words about the offerings and remarked that he is “not sure the menu will please everyone” and unfortunate souls who cannot figure out how to use the heating kit will have to eat the rations cold.
“Not necessarily digestible after ingesting sand all day,” Bourret quipped.
The Chrono Stage takes the place of the two-stage Empty Quarter Marathon. It serves as the sixth leg of the twelve-stage rally, starting and ending in Shubaytah, with 584 kilometres of its 818 km total being timed sections. By 4 PM on 11 January, competitors must report to one of six rest areas scattered throughout the route, whichever is closest to their on-track location, to spend the night. These camps are barebones with simple necessities such as a tent, sleeping bag, garbage bags, toilet paper, and water for each person, whereas they do not have resources like restrooms and Internet and cellular service. Compared to the Empty Quarter Marathon, where everyone was at least in the same place, the Chrono Stage camps will likely be more rudimentary with fewer people in each and so many of them spread out across the desert.
Marathon rules still apply, which forces everyone to make repairs to their vehicles on their own or with the help of other racers. The second day of the Chrono Stage will begin the following morning at 7 AM.
The race will begin on 5 January.