Friday, October 1, 2010

The Hardest Endurance Events on the Planet

The author of the blog Straight Dope came up with a list of the hardest recreational endurance events in the world. His definition of recreational was that anyone may enter so that anyone could think "I want to try that" and then, with enough motivation, have a chance to do it. Amber would make the argument that motivation needs to be accompanied by the equal amounts of training but you get the idea:)

Here's the list:
1) Badwater 135- From the desert from the lowest point in the United States to the highest (if you add the 11 extra miles to the top of Mt. Whitney). It's not the distance so much the heat that will do you in.
Cost: $895

2) Race Across America - 3,000 mile bike ride across the US.
Cost: $2,995

3) The Norseman - According to the website it says, "you will probably tell your friends afterwards that Norseman was more beautiful, demanding, personal, camaraderie, frightening, and to reach the finish line was a greater victory and joy than any other race you have ever done."
Cost: NOK 2,000($342)

4) Iditarod Trail Invitational - Apparently this is without dogs but it's still February in northern Alaska riding your bike 1100 miles across the ice.
Cost: $1,150

5) The Hardrock 100 - The uber-ultramarathon with almost 70,000' of elevation gain/loss at an average elevation of 11,000'.
Cost: ~$250

6) Climbing Mount Everest – As the author writes there are definitely peaks harder but none of them are available to the recreational athlete.
Cost: >$70,000 with permits and travel

7) Primal Quest - The adventure race to end all adventure races.
Cost: $12,500

8) Crocodile Trophy - A 10 stage, 1400 kilometer mountain bike race through the Australian Outback.
Cost: Euro 1,590($2,189)

9) Patrouille des Glaciers – Ski Mountaineering Race of 53k with an altitude change of 7,000 meters where every step is either "laborious or scary."
Cost: Unknown(Can't read German)

10) The Nose in a day – The Nose, a plumb line up El Capitan, in a day is a rite of passage for an “elite” recreational rock climbers.
Cost: FREE(no permits required)

11) Jungle Marathon – A 6-stage 200km race through the Amazon.
Cost:£2000 ($3,166)

12) Yukon Arctic Ultra – Supposedly this is the “the world’s coldest and toughest ultra”.
Cost: Euro 2,050($2,821)

13) Everest Challenge – The California-Nevada Climbing Championship- "This race climbs 30,000’ in its two stages but is even tougher than the elevation gain total would suggest. Hardly a meter of its 200 miles are flat and three of the six climbs are over 20 miles long, at grades up to 20%. "
Cost: $160

14) Arctic Circle Ski Race - “The ultimate challenge to cross-country skiers” is a 160km race in Greenland over three days in the dark.
Cost: 13.282 ddk($2,451)

14) Tour de Afrique – A 96-stage bike ride through 9 countries in Africa
Cost: £8,900 ($14,095)

15) La Ruta de los Conquistadores – This 3-day stage mountain bike race across Costa Rica. "In La Ruta, you often have to carry your bike and it features brutal mud, intense heat, tough cut off times….”
Cost: $1,650

16)The Barkley Marathons – It’s 100 miles with no real trails or check points with nearly 55,000 feet of elevation gain with 60-hour time limit
Cost: $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and an essay on "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkley".

So to do the 16 most challenging "recreational events in the world, you need obviously some perseverance, strong legs and lungs, and A LOT OF MONEY. For $112,476.60 you can ENTER each of these races/events. And besides Everest, that's not including getting there, staying there or taking the time off of work.

While I love the idea of doing each and every one of these challenges, I don't foresee myself being able to justify nearly $150,000 for my fun, little hobby.

Another option: Cut out Tour de Afrique, Everest, Yukon Arctic Ultra, Jungle Marathon, Crocodile Trophy, and Primal Quest which still leaves you with nine hard races that range from ultramarathons and rock climbing to mountain and road biking as well as a very challenging triathlon while spending less than $10,000. With a little help from some sponsors and it suddenly becomes even more reasonable. That way you can have the best of all worlds: race and enjoy the company of your like-minded peers, challenge yourself in all areas of fitness, and still have enough money left over to donate to a charity(or pay off your college loans).

So here's my list of personal challenges that I'd like to pursue:

1)Badwater 135
2)Race Across America
3)The Norseman
4)Iditarod Trail Invitational
5)The Hardrock 100
6)The Nose in a day
7)Everest Challenge
8)Arctic Circle Ski Race
9)The Barkley Marathons
10)The English Channel Swim(Not on the list but a serious feat nonetheless)
11)Climb Mt. Denali(Why go over overseas when we have a peak with a higher total elevation gain?)
12)Qualify and compete in Kona(so Amber already has a one up on me)

Any races that I'm missing that should be added to the bucket list?

Speaking of crazy endurance activities, you will probably be needing a coach to help you optimize your performance. Check out Amber's coaching page and  make sure to follow all of Amber's adventures at her blog, on Twitter and like her on Facebook.


  1. Looks like quite a list there Danny! Just be careful of Denali. It typically gets colder and snowier weather than Everest and should not be done on a whim. Otherwise, have a ball!

  2. What no Leadville 100 double (run and Mtn bike)? toughen up Dan

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