The World’s Toughest Footraces
In our competitive world, it seems that a marathon is no longer a big deal to those into running. Ultramarathons and races that combine distance, agility and testing surroundings are the new 26.2 mile run. So, could you take on these extreme footraces? Or does just looking at them give you shin splints? Either way, the treadmill will never look so luxurious!
Marathon de Sables
This 154-mile ultramarathon is actually more endurance feat than a test for running skills. Crossing through Southern Morocco in the Sahara, as you can imagine, is incredibly hot. In some places, the ground underfoot means that your foot sinks down into the sand. So the chances of keeping a steady pace are very low.
The Barkley Marathons
This Tennessee-based race combines 5 loops around Frozen Head State Park. The terrain is very uneven, with a lot of steep hills. There are no help stations or even markers – runners simply have a map to guide them. As a result, the 20 miles per loop distance often end up even longer. The race must be done within 60 hours, and each loop is done in less than 12 hours, so there’s no chance to catch up if you fall behind. Perhaps unsurprisingly, very few people manage to finish the race. There was one finisher last year and none at all in 2015.
As you can imagine, jungles are hot and humid places filled with bugs that like to bite. Nevertheless, each year runners flock to Peru to compete in the Jungle Ultra. The trail is mostly downhill but covers 142.6 miles right towards the Amazon. Crossing rivers and streams are part of the course, too. So if you’ve ever got annoyed by running through a puddle in new trainers, maybe give this one a miss.
The Self Transcendence 3100 Mile
This is an odd one in comparison to the others on this list. Firstly, it is far longer – 3100 miles in 52 days. Secondly, the challenge isn’t tough terrain or navigation. It’s based in Queens, New York, and simply revolves around running around the same block over and over again. It’s a mental as much as a physical test, say participants. Rather than broken bones or serious injury, the biggest challenges are fatigue and boredom.
This race covers 350 miles across the Arctic Circle. As you may have guessed, this is an incredibly cold place and means the terrain is icy. Weather and winds can be fairly unpredictable and harder to train for. Runners must drag their own gear on sledges as they go. The cut-off time is 191 hours, and only 11 people have managed to complete the race in this time.
Dragon’s Back Race
Closer to home but still tough, the Dragon’s Back Race runs from north right through to South Wales. Participants run for 186 miles across the unmarked wilderness. The terrain is hilly and involves elements of climbing. As you might expect with the UK, the weather can often be very rainy and dark, so runners must be conscious of this as they manoeuvre through the craggy Welsh countryside.