Marathon Des Sables 2021 Endurance Runners to Benefit from Satellite Tracking and Safety Thanks to 950 Globalstar SPOT Devices

September 14, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT


  • Athletes and support staff in the 35th running of MARATHON DES SABLESthe world’s most extreme running race, will rely on the Globalstar satellite network and SPOT messengers for safety and tracking
  • Rescheduled from 2020, MDS will take place 1-11 October 2021: SPOT’s accurate GPS tracking will ensure all 800 MDS competitors stay on course, with a further 150 SPOTs carried by support and rescue crews
  • Having played a vital role in over 7,900 rescues worldwide to date, SPOT’s one-touch SOS button instantly transmits user’s GPS location for speedy support in case of emergency

Dublin, Ireland, 14 September, 2021 - Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. (NYSE American: GSAT), and a leader in satellite messaging, IoT, and emergency notification technologies, today announced that SPOT devices will track and safeguard all athletes competing in the 35th edition of MARATHON DES SABLES (MDS), the world’s most extreme running race. Globalstar has for the sixth time been named Official Tracking Partner for this year’s event, taking place from 1-11 October 2021. MDS did not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each of MDS 2021’s 800 pre-registered participants will have the small, rugged SPOT units mounted on their backpack. SPOT will transmit their GPS location every five minutes so that race organisers, emergency support crew, sponsors, family and friends can precisely track each runner’s progress online.

This is accomplished thanks to Globalstar’s next generation fleet of satellites traversing the planet in Low Earth Orbit, enabling reliable, ubiquitous coverage even where alternative communications infrastructure is non-existent.

MDS is a gruelling multi-stage footrace and test of self-sufficiency which sees endurance athletes traverse the highly challenging landscape of the Sahara Desert; runners race across the sands of Morocco in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

MDS first used SPOT devices in 2015. That year, thanks to SPOT’s GPS data transmission and emergency notification capabilities, during the course of the event, the MDS support team was able to precisely locate 18 competitors who found themselves in distress, and to quickly dispatch rescue teams to each. In fact, in the last three races supported by SPOT, the devices enabled no fewer than 45 competitors to be rescued within minutes. In the 2015 race, the use of SPOT even resulted in one rescue with the assistance of a camel.

A further 150 SPOT devices will be deployed for support teams at the 2021 event. As in past years, MDS 2021 race marshals will carry SPOT units and the devices will also be deployed in security and medical vehicles and helicopters.

If an incident occurs, such as injury, the runner simply presses SPOT’s one-touch SOS button and their location data is transmitted by satellite from the SPOT device to race officials, making it easy to find the closest rescue team and to promptly dispatch support.

Customised tracking software including an intuitive user interface, provided by tracking specialist GlobalPlus+, a Globalstar Value Added Reseller based in Spain, will help race officials, as well as friends, family and sponsors, keep track of the athletes’ progress. The GlobalPlus+ platform uses geo-fencing to alert race HQ if an athlete inadvertently goes off-course. When this happens, rescue and medical teams check the person’s health, and if they are OK, advise them on how to get back on course.

“We are delighted to again partner with Globalstar and SPOT,” explains Patrick Bauer, CEO of the MARATHON DES SABLES. “With the cancellation of the race last year, and all the extra measures we’ve implemented to make the event Covid-safe, we are especially excited about MDS 2021. We continue to greatly appreciate SPOT’s capabilities, enabling us to reliably track all MDS athletes, and ensuring we can rapidly help them when they need it most.”

“MARATHON DES SABLES this year feels like it has extra meaning following the events of 2020: We’re extremely happy to once again be part of it,” said Gavan Murphy, Director of Marketing, EMEA, Globalstar.

“It’s an honour to enable tracking and SOS emergency help for these super-human athletes as they test themselves to their very limits, and to provide MDS organisers, support and medical crews with the satellite-enabled tools they need as they carry out their vital role in making this amazing competition possible,” he added.

MDS 2021 is a gruelling multi-stage adventure through a highly challenging landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates – the Sahara Desert. Runners take on the challenge of a lifetime, facing the most extreme terrain as they race across the sands of Morocco in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The rules of MDS require participants to be self-sufficient, carrying everything they need to survive – including all equipment and food – on their backs. Only water and tents are provided. Other safety measures include RFID tagging.

About SPOT
SPOT is a rugged, pocket-sized, low-priced personal GPS messenger that helps users stay connected via satellite even where there is poor or no GSM signal. If a runner gets into trouble, such as sustaining an injury, with the single press of a button, emergency services are alerted, their GPS coordinates are transmitted to the support crew, and help is immediately dispatched. SPOT provides off-the-grid messaging, emergency alerts, super long battery life, and extreme GPS tracking with intervals as frequent as every 2.5 minutes. SPOT devices have been used in over 7,900 rescues worldwide. For more information, and a list of retailers carrying SPOT products, visit

About Globalstar, Inc.

Globalstar is a leading provider of customizable Satellite IoT Solutions for customers around the world in industries such as oil and gas, transportation, emergency management, government, maritime and outdoor recreation. A pioneer of mobile satellite voice and data services, Globalstar solutions connect people to their devices and allow businesses to streamline operations providing safety and communication and enabling mobile assets to be monitored remotely via the Globalstar Satellite Network. The Company's Commercial IoT product portfolio includes industry-acclaimed SmartOne asset tracking products, Commercial IoT satellite transmitters and the SPOT® product line for personal safety, messaging and emergency response, all supported on SPOT My Globalstar, a robust cloud-based enhanced mapping solution.

Note that all SPOT products described in this press release are the products of SPOT LLC, a subsidiary of Globalstar, which is not affiliated in any manner with Spot Image of Toulouse, France or Spot Image Corporation of Chantilly, Virginia. For more information, visit

For media information, please contact:
Cynthia Ritchie
White Tiger Communications

[email protected]
+44 (0)20 3514 2525

Gavan Murphy
Globalstar Director of Marketing EMEA

[email protected]