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 toughest endurance 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, including one man named Jim Gump who is running an extraordinary 30,000 miles, averaging17 miles per day without a single day of rest.
Here is our list of the world’s toughest endurance races, enjoy!
Marathon Des Sables
Dubbed the “toughest footrace on earth”, Marathon Des Sables (MDS) is an epic six-day, 251km ultramarathon that takes place in the searing Sahara Desert every year. The longest single stage in 2017 measured almost 90km.
In temperatures of roughly 50 degrees Celsius, competitors run the equivalent of London to Dover and back again, all the while wishing they had never entered the race in the first place!
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.
Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
More people have been into space or climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic. This is not just one of the toughest endurance races in the world, but overall one of the toughest challenges a human can possibly endure.
This race tests the limits of physical and mental strength as athletes row hundreds of miles, battling hurricanes, intense heat, giant waves, and starvation in an effort to cross one of the planet’s most unpredictable forces.
4 Deserts Race Series
The 4 Deserts Race Series is widely recognized as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world. The series consists of the Sahara Race (Namibia), Gobi March (China), Atacama Crossing (Chile) and The Last Desert (Antarctica).
Competitors in the races traverse 250 kilometers in seven days over rough country terrain with only a place in a tent and water provided. They are supported by highly qualified staff, all with experience in hiking, marathons, and ultramarathons, and medical teams specializing in wilderness medicine.
Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc
This single-stage mountain race has numerous mountain passages in altitudes of 2500m. Runners endure difficult weather conditions as they compete overnight in wind, cold, rain and snow. that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy.
This 171km monster demands elite training and preparation, adapted equipment and a real capacity of to push the limits of physics and mentality.
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.
World Marathon Challenge (777)
The World Marathon Challenge is a logistical and physical challenge to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Competitors must run the standard 42.2 km marathon distance on courses in Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and North America within a 168 hours limit, or 7 days.
Aside from the taxing run, competitors also endure approximately 48 hours of flying time throughout the week, adjusting to different time zones and climates as they go.
Tour De France
Cyclists must navigate the hilly plains of France, encountering 28 mountain passes or summit finishes throughout the three-week long race. Keeping the pace isn’t an easy feat either, with the average rider maintaining a speed of 40 kilometres per hour for the entire race.
The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 85 metres below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal, 2530m above sea level. The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 4450 metres of cumulative vertical ascent and 1859m of cumulative descent.
Arctic Circle Race
The harrowing first day is full of learning curves, a white-out on day two challenges all the and a looming storm on the final day can the entire race on its head.
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