From the vast, icy plains of the Arctic Circle to the unpredictable, unstoppable force of the world’s biggest oceans, we compile the most deadly, feared, difficult and most extreme races know to man.
At PledgeSports, we’re huge fans of ultra-athletes and have helped many of them, from a wide range of sports, raise money through crowdfunding.
Here is our list of the world’s most extreme races, enjoy!
Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic
Since beginning in 1982, approximately 15 people a year attempt to navigate more than 100 miles of treacherous Alaskan terrain. The race has no defined route, and participants must be skilled in self-rescue.
This year’s race experienced its first fatality when a race veteran died while crossing the Tana river.
Race Across America
They climb 170,000 feet along the way, one of the most strenuous altitude changes of any bike race. The winners usually average about 22 hours a day on their bikes, clocking about 250-300 miles in that period in order to complete the race under its 12-day limit.
Patagonia Expedition Race
Each day of the weeklong, 400-mile monster race covers a new route, so there’s no learning from those who have done it in a previous year. Teams of four race through southern Patagonia by means of trekking, biking, kayaking, and climbing to get from start to finish.
Iditarod Trail Invitational
55 racers take on the 1,000-mile course each year. They battle through freezing Alaskan wilderness from Knik Lake to Nome on a combination of foot, bike, and ski. Participants are on their own for days and must be self-sufficient with personal supplies and navigation. Results vary widely depending on the weather. In 2012, conditions were so bad that not a single racer finished the thousand miles. But in 2014, 16 people finished—the largest group in the event’s history.
The track descends over 10,000 feet to the jungle floor, before crossing an incredible 70 rivers and streams as it meanders through the jungle.
A 350-mile race where runners cross the Arctic Circle. Participants drag themselves and their sleds across very technical mountainous terrain between the Yukon and Northwest Territories where temperatures generally clock in at -25 degrees. Runners must complete the course within 8 days. Due to unpredictable weather and extreme conditions, only 11 people have finished the race in its seven-year history.
The Tour Divide
Departing from New Mexico, the race’s 2,745-mile course takes bikers on dirt roads, jeep trails, and through volatile high-altitude weather and extreme desert heat. Riders average 170 miles of pedaling per day and will climb 200,000 vertical feet over the course of the race. “By day four, I couldn’t keep my eyes open,” said Jefe Branham, the 2014 winner who finished in 16 days, 2 hours, and 39 minutes. The self-supported race comes at a cost: “I probably spent $1200 on food. And I was doing it cheaply.”
Volvo Ocean Race
The longest race in the world pits teams of eight against each other as they sail non-stop for days at a time. In 2011, due to concerns over piracy in the Indian Ocean, the multi-million-euro boats were lifted onto armed ships and dropped at a safe port in the Maldives. Five sailors have lost their lives while competing.
35 runners a year attempt 100 unsupported miles on the remote trails and forest service roads of Washinton’s Cascades. Just over 100 have finished since the race started in 1997, and on four occasions no one completed the full distance. The race pits competitors entirely on their own. There are no aid stations or pace-setters, and runners who drop out have to figure out how to get back to safe ground on their own.
The 100-mile unsupported Barkley in the Tennessee has only been finished 16 times since its start in 1986. Inspired by a prison escape, forty runners attempt to cover 65,000 feet of vertical change over the course’s five unmarked 20-mile loops.
To make things more interesting, racers must stay within the 60-hour time limit to be considered an official finisher. While most mountainous races include switchbacks, the Barkley sends runners straight uphill.
There are checkpoints along the way, but how racers get to each one is up to them. The race, which runs the length of Wales from north to south, was first held in 1992 and recently started again after a 20-year hiatus. The fastest racers spend 8 hours per day competing, while the slower ones managed about 18 hours. In 2012, 85 people started the race and only 32 crossed the finish line.
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