Regardless of the sport, endurance events will test the physical and mental limits of the participants who are adventurous (and possibly mad) enough to compete. There are many variables that can impact a competitor’s performance, the elements are unpredictable at best and lethal at worst but for the brave few, the appeal of competing in an endurance event is undeniable.
It is this mercurial draw that has cemented the growing popularity of endurance challenges in recent years. You’ll be able to find the world’s toughest endurance competitions being held on every continent.
From Antarctic ultra-marathons that see competitors traverse the frozen expanse of the South Pole to the world’s toughest footrace that takes place in the Sahara Desert, these extreme endurance races are exhilarating as the slots NZ have to offer and force participants to push themselves like never before.
Below you’ll find a few of the most gruelling endurance events in the world. Finish any one of them and you can truly say that you’ve challenged the absolute limits of your body and mind.
Marathon des Sables – Sahara Desert
This gruelling six-day ultra-marathon is held every year in southern Morocco and sees competitors brave a brutal 251kms through the Sahara Desert. The setting is one of the most inhospitable environments in the world and competitors are required to carry all their food and supplies on their backs through this multi-stage event.
The Marathon des Sables is often referred to as the world’s toughest footrace and with good reason, it covers the same distance as approximately six regular marathons. Broken into several stages with time limits for each one, the longest single stage is 91km long. Enduring the harsh desert conditions in itself is challenging enough, let alone the gruelling distance that competitors are required to complete but this is a test of perseverance, and at times, survival.
Organisers of the event have mandatory checkpoints with water and medical support along the way to ensure that competitors stay hydrated. Even with safety measures in place, they still run the risk of getting lost, as they are at the mercy of the Mother Nature in one of the most hostile locations on the planet.
Antarctic Ice Marathon
This formidable endurance race is the only one of its kind held in the interior of Antarctica. The Antarctic Ice Marathon sees competitors attempt a 100km run with snow and ice underfoot throughout its marked course.
Set against a stark white backdrop of mountains, hills and seemingly endless expanses of ice, the course has an average elevation of 3,000 feet (900 meters). This ultra marathon should only be attempted by the toughest endurance athletes, as it presents a daunting challenge that sees competitors bear the brunt of an average wind chill temperature of -20˚C (-4F), as well as the prospect of strong katabatic winds.
It is the southernmost marathon in the world and provides competitors with the only opportunity to complete a 100km event on the frozen continent. If you want to join the elite ranks of the ultra-exclusive 7 Continents Marathon Club, you have little choice but to brave the cold and dominate the “world’s coolest 100”.