The Surprising Way This Man Survived Nine Days In The Sahara Desert

According to Recoil Offgrid Magazine, The Marathon De Sables (also known as the Sahara Marathon), has been called one of the toughest foot races on the planet. Participants traverse 156 miles in six days in the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco. By all accounts, it's a grueling journey that one must heavily train for. Participants must carry everything they need on their back, except for water, which is given at various checkpoints (via Men's Journal).

In 1994, 39-year-old Mauro Prosperi, an Italian police officer and former Olympic pentathlete, was up for the challenge and joined the marathon. Things were going smoothly until the fourth day, when an epic eight-hour sandstorm occurred (per the BBC).

Prosperi decided to keep going and slept through it. When he awoke, he did not think he was lost but he soon realized he was wrong. Officials, on the other hand, knew Prosperi would be in danger if he wasn't quickly found. A search party, however, found no trace of him; he was gone.

Somewhere in the middle of the desert, Prosperi kept walking. He had a knife, compass, sleeping bag, and some food. What he lacked, however, was water. According to Medical News Today, the human body can survive without water for about three days. How then did Prosperi survive his ordeal?

He drank the blood of animals to stay hydrated

Although Prosperi wasn't convinced he was in any danger, he urinated in a water bottle as a precaution (via the BBC). He remembered his grandfather telling him that was what he and the other soldiers did during the war when they ran out of water. Prosperi believed he would be found in no time, but that's not what happened.

When he realized no one was coming, he continued to walk. According to Recoil Offgrid Magazine, Prosperi ended up finding shelter in a marabout (a Muslim shrine, above). Here, he drank his own urine and cooked with it. He ate and drank the blood of bats he found inside. Anti-diarrhea medicine prevented him from becoming ill and losing more water.

After failing to flag down a helicopter and plane he spotted flying by, Prosperi became despondent. He wrote a goodbye letter and slashed his wrists (per Men's Journal). However, he did not die because his blood was so thick from dehydration that it wouldn't flow. Prosperi took this as a sign that he had to go on. He left the marabout and continued to walk the desert for days, killing snakes and lizards and eating them raw.

Prosperi was eventually found when he stumbled on a small community of shepherds. He had ended up in Algeria; he'd lost 35 pounds. It took him two years to fully recover, but once he did, Prosperi returned to The Marathon De Sables. Real Life Lore reports (via YouTube) that he continues to compete in other desert marathons as well.