You may have recently noticed that grueling, adrenaline-pumping endurance races have become incredibly popular. From Tough Mudders to Spartan Races, it seems like everyone wants to test their limits — something we fully support! We’re all about fuelling extraordinary. Ultra marathons, triathlons and ironmans have become a global trend, with many of them popping up in remote places — and in the most extreme conditions. Whether you’re participating in them or just cheering from the sidelines, the world’s top races seem to make us all stop and marvel at the capabilities of these insane and incredible athletes.
This week, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite, upcoming races around the globe. In no particular order, here are five competitions that are sure to increase your heart rate, no matter your fitness level. From Nepal to Patagonia, take a look at some of the most insane races your fellow humans are taking on this year.
1.) The Patagonia Expedition Race follows a unique route every year, promising to challenge even the veterans. Since its founding in 2004, the courses have ranged from 520km to 1112km, with finishing times ranging from 9 to 14 days. The race follows an expedition format, which includes an assortment of glaciers, rivers, mountains, forests and plains — all to be traversed by teams of four (which must contain at least one man and one woman). A map is presented to teams 24 hours prior to the competition, which they must first interpret, then navigate their way through. Strategy and teamwork are the key factors here, as lack thereof could result in a more difficult — or even impossible— route choice. Rock climbers, mountain bikers, hikers and adventurers apply here!
2.) Anyone here keen to run the world’s highest marathon? The Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon is perhaps one of the most physically demanding races on the planet. Runners must arrive in Nepal at least three weeks early to acclimatize before taking on a 14-day, 24km assent to the starting point of Everest Base Camp (5364m).
From here, thin air and subfreezing temperatures accompany runners as they make their way downhill an icy, 42km course. They’ll cross five Himalayan high passes before finally arriving at the finish line of Namche Bazaar (3446m). And if this doesn’t sound brutal enough for you, don’t worry. There’s also a 60km ultra marathon course available to run, which you can check out here.
3.) For those who prefer to endure sweltering heat over blistering cold, The Badwater 135 may be your calling. Dubbed “The World’s Toughest Foot Race,” this 135-mile course takes place in Death Valley, California — and we wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading there.
Beginning in Badwater Basin (85m below sea level), and finishing at the summit of Mt Whitney (2530m, the highest point in the contiguous United States), extreme heat and giant elevation changes are the name of this game. Runners cross three mountain ranges and climb a total of 4450m before arriving at mile 122. Thirteen miles later, they cross the finish line at the Whitney Portal, which can take anywhere from 24-48 hours. If running in 120F temperatures (that’s about 49C) is your thing, you can sign up here.
4.) Triathletes, look no further than the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, Norway. Limited to only 250 competitors, this Iron Man race starts with a 4 meter drop into the Hardangerfjord and a 3.8km [literal] freezing swim to shore. Next up is a 180km cycle across the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe, then a 42km run to the finishing point of Mt. Gaustatoppen (1850m). Whew, we’re out of breath just reading that.
Both the exclusivity and scenery of this point-to-point race make it one of the most attractive experiences the world. If swimming, biking, running and freezing your way through 226km of Norway’s most stunning landscape sounds like your cup of tea, visit the site here to enter the lottery.
5.) Any takers for running 246 kilometers in under 36 hours? The Spartathlon in Greece takes competitors on a historic route from Athens to Sparta, via a series of ascents and continually changing terrain. Runners can look forward to a 1200 metre mountain pass in the dead of the night, extreme heat in the daytime and 75 time-monitoring checkpoints along the way.
While the history behind this race is what draws people in, the physical demands are certainly what leave people behind. As it turns out, running almost six consecutive marathons in a day and a half is quite the challenge. If you’re up for it, get the details here.