So many kids wanted to be Superman growing up and were crushed when they realized that this was not a valid career option. However, what if you found out that developing Superman’s strength and endurance was a perfectly acceptable hobby? Competing in competitions that are becoming ever longer, harder, and more grueling is on the rise worldwide. Requiring superhuman strength and rigorous training schedules, competing in these extreme races requires strength and determination that would impress even Superman himself.
Maybe running and adventure is your thing and working out is your religion. Perhaps you’ve even already completed a marathon or two. Now the question to ask yourself is, are you ready to take the challenge to the next level? Are you ready to commit to something that will demand all of your will power to ignore screaming hamstrings and brave sub-zero climates?
If the answer is yes, then read on. Below are some of the most extreme races that the world has to offer. Do you think you’re ready?
Pikes Peak Marathon – Colorado Springs, CO
Let’s start with something easy. Although the thought of racing up to the summit of Pikes Peak sounds idyllic, don’t let the scenery fool you. This is not your ordinary 26.2 mile marathon. For a start, the first 13.1 miles you will gain 7,815 feet in elevation by scrambling up a shale-covered mountainside.
If you make it that far, don’t worry, the next 13.1 miles doesn’t get any easier. Once you hit the second half of the marathon at 14,110 feet you not only have to continue through miles of ankle-breaking terrain, but you will have to beware of sudden lightening and hailstorms that are known to occur anytime- even in mid summer. (pikespeakmarathon.org)
Antarctic Ice Marathon – South Pole, Antarctica
Need some time away from work? The world’s southernmost marathon may be the perfect excuse to not see your boss for a while. Held in November during the Antarctic summer, this race will still require polar running gear as summer on the South Pole is cold. On average, temperatures linger between 0- 10 degrees Fahrenheit with steady 10-25 mph winds.
Even though this race lasts only five days, competitors are regularly rescued by snowmobiles because prolonged exposure in this summer climate can be daunting and dangerous. (antarcticicemarathon.com)
Marathon des Sables – Sahara Desert
If you need something a little warmer or more distance in your runs, the Marathon des Sables fits the bill. This race challenges competitors to complete a 150-mile course across the Sahara. This ultra marathon demands absolute self-reliance so your training will need to be as much mental as it as physical. Remember, you legs may be strong, but this desert will test your heart’s commitment to the extreme.
The marathon starts in mid-May so expect temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the days and below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. With such dramatic swings in climate you will sweat, swell, and freeze making top-notch gear an absolute necessity for this race. (darbaroud.com)
Obstacle Course Races
If nature doesn’t offer enough obstacles for you, you should consider a race littered with man-made ones. Obstacle course races (OCR) is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., and Spartan Races are one of the most grueling and popular variations. If you choose to brave a Spartan race you will be required to run up hills carrying sandbags, wade through mud pits that have barbed wire ceilings, and scale 8-foot walls.
Think you can do it? Well, so does the military. Spartan races were designed with military-level combination of endurance and strength in mind. Truly, by the time you’ve completed one of these races you could probably consider a career in the Marines.
Even competing at the lowest (Sprint) level, you will be racing 3-5 miles during which you will face 20 daunting obstacles. By Super level you will be topping 10 miles with 25 seemingly insurmountable obstacles scattered throughout. If you brave the Beast level then you are looking at more than 12 miles of grueling terrain with 30 obstacles for you to overcome before you can reach the finish line. (spartanrace.com)
So if you are feeling like your life needs a little something extra this year, perhaps you should consider one of these extreme races. . You will have seen places no one has heard of; you will have competed against the best athletes in your group; and you will have pushed yourself past the edge you thought you had. Everyone has goals and everyone needs to push themselves to take just one more step. Why not test your limits? Supreme bragging rights are yours for the taking if you make it to the end.