There was a time when running a marathon or competing in an Ironman Triathlon was extreme enough. Not anymore!
In the never-ending quest to go farther and be better a new crop of extreme endurance races has hit the scene. They may sound crazy, and they’re definitely grueling, but you’ll probably want to try them! (Just be sure you train first!)
Great Wall Marathon
Forget 26.2 miles, the Great Wall Marathon challenges participants to tackle 5,164 steps. By comparison, the Empire State Building Run-Up boasts only 1,576 stairs. This run has a full marathon, half-marathon and fun 5K option that align with more traditional races just, you know, along the Great Wall of China.
Antarctic Ice Marathon
How about traveling to one of the most remote parts of the world for your marathon experience? The Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place “just a few hundred miles from the South Pole.” As to be expected from the location, it’s run entirely on snow and ice. The extreme conditions in this region mean that participants are running in an average windchill of -4F.
Iditarod Trail Invitational
You may have heard of the Iditarod dogsled race, but did you know there’s a human counterpart? This snowy race takes place in Alaska and offers a 350-mile and a whopping 1,000-mile option. Participants complete on fat-tire bikes, foot and skis. The Iditarod Trial Invitational is known as “the world’s longest winter ultra marathon.”
Marathon des Sables
Many marathons take place through urban landscapes, so if you need something or want to quit you have options. Not when you’re running the Marathon des Sables. This week-long, 156-mile race takes participants straight through the Sahara Desert and runners need to carry most of their own supplies with them.
What makes this race even more grueling is that water is rationed … while you’re racing through the Sahara Desert where temperatures regularly reach 122F. If you exceed your water allotment you receive a time plenty.
The Barkley Marathons
This semi off-the-grid endurance race puts participants through more than the normal paces. Run around Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, runners don’t have an official trail to follow. Instead, they’re given a map the day before and challenged to finish five loops that are rumored to be a bit more than 20-miles each. They have 12 hours to complete each loop.
In the 30-year history of The Barkley Marathons, only 14 runners have completed the challenge.
Race Across America
Race Across America is an endurance bike race that, true to its name, stretches clear across the United States. Running from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD, this 3,000-mile race doesn’t have built in stopping points like other long bike races. Instead, the winner is the cyclist who completes the distance fastest. Riders have 12 days to complete the challenge, but the fastest finish occurred in just eight days.