Often in life we look for ways to challenge, improve and push ourselves to new limits. Those limits for us are different: from running a 5k to completing an ultra-marathon, we set challenges that are unique to ourselves.
For some, this involves pushing themselves to the extreme. As a result, tough endurance challenges have been created to test the limit. In this blog, we’ll take a look at 5 of the toughest sporting events across the globe.
World's Toughest Race 1: Marathon des Sables (also known as the Sahara Marathon)
The Marathon des Sables is recognised as one of the world’s toughest races. An ultimate physical challenge, the Sahara Marathon is a six-day long, 251km ultramarathon (the length of 6 regular marathons) across the Sahara sand with temperatures regularly reaching 50°C.
Not only is the running challenge itself difficult, but the athletes are also required to carry all they need on their backs, except for a tent and water. Very hardcore!
Find out more about this race on their official site here.
World's Toughest Race 2: Norseman xtreme triathlon
Held in Norway, the Norseman is one of the hardest athletic events across the globe. The triathlon has distances similar to an Ironman however each part of the race poses a new challenge. The swim starts at 5am in the cold Norwegian waters in Eidfjord (10° C in 2015). The cycle is 180km in length with a 3,800m vertical gain. The run is a total of 42km with a total 1,432m of climbing.
With each leg being hard enough as it is, the triathlon is ‘xtreme’ as all athletes must carry everything they need with them. Due to the immense vertical gain of the triathlon and the safety precautions involved, only the 160 fastest athletes out of the 250 that start are allowed to climb to the finish line. Amazing.
World's Toughest Race 3: The Atlantic Rowing Race
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge sees a team or individuals travel from the Canary Islands to the West Indies... covering 3,000 miles (4828 km) in a rowing boat. The challenge requires the strongest mental and physical endurance – tackling 20-foot waves and surviving with only 20 minutes of sleep at a time.
To top it off, the teams can’t have any additional supplies given to them (including repairs, food or even water!) throughout the challenge, which can last 35 to 96 days. An incredibly impressive challenge for anyone to complete.
World's Toughest Race 4: Antarctica Ice Marathon
The Antarctica Ice Marathon presents a remarkable challenge. Not only do participants have to run a full marathon (42.2km) across snow and ice with an average windchill temperature of -20°C, but the race also takes place at an altitude of 700 meters.
If you complete this physical challenge, you can say you have completed the southernmost marathon on Earth!
Find out more about this marathon here.
World's Toughest Race 5: Race Across America
Last but not least is the infamous Race Across America. One of the longest endurance events across the globe, this race tasks challengers to cycle 3000 miles (4828 km) across 12 states, climbing 175,000ft in the process. Challengers are pushed to their limit: there are no set phases of the route, and a competitor’s finishing time includes all time taken for breaks (meaning for many, sleep is optional).
As a competitor for the world’s toughest race, the route traverses three mountain ranges and crosses four main rivers. You can take part as an amateur or a professional, either on your own or in a team. All contestants must prove their abilities in several qualifying rounds.
If you fancy giving it a go, find out more here!
And there you have it – 5 of the hardest athletic events in the world. Although for many of us these events are the extreme, we can still be inspired by these challenges, and use this as a boost to make sure we are all making the most of every day!
P.S. If you've been inspired to take on one of these challenges, learn how you can improve your athletic performance in our recent blog.