Sports | October 23, 2016
Edmund Hillary, the first Westerner to ever summit Mount Everest once famously told a journalist who asked him why he climbed the mountain, “because it’s there.” Which seems to be the reason human beings do a lot of insane physical things on a regular basis—just to see if they can. Now that just about everything in the world has been climbed or seen, humans are now making up insane races that push themselves to the very edge of survival. We all think of the Iron Man as being the true test of human endurance, but the races listed below are way more extreme, showing off what people at the most extreme physical levels can pull off.
The Double-Deca Ironman Triathlon
As the aforementioned Ironman is considered to be incredibly difficult. It’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike race and a full marathon of 26.2 miles in a row. Now imagine doing that every day for 20 days in a row. That’s what this absolutely absurd race is. Few people ever even complete it and the extremes one must be able to go through physically to do that are places most of us can never even imagine, must less actually visit.
Empire State Building Run-Up
Every year, a race is held in New York City that is actually one of the most extreme in the world. It consists of sprinting 86 floors up to the top of the Empire State Building. While it’s not a long race at 1050 feet and 1,576 steps total, actually being able to do this without stopping is incredibly difficult and brutal on your body—especially when you consider the fastest time ever of 9 minutes and thirty three seconds from bottom to top.
These races are specially designed by ultra marathoners for Death Race participants in inhospitable terrain that test both mental and physical toughness. From the Hills of Appalachia to mountains in South America to flat lands of Africa, Death Races are held all over the world. You don’t know when it starts or when it finishes and the crude map is only provided to each participant when the race officially begins. Clues for what to do next are often mental puzzles and races will often go for 70 hours straight. Racers often are forced to go back through awful areas they managed to get through, as that is the route organizers draw. On average, only about ten percent of the participants will finish each Death Race.
This is a 142.6 mile race through the Peruvian rainforest that drops from the mountains 10,500 feet to the jungle floor and takes racers through 70 streams and rivers, 90 plus degree heat at almost 100 percent humidity, as well as a whole host of bugs and other creatures that don’t like people running through their homes. Sounds like absolute hell.
Alaska Mountain Wilderness Challenge
About 15 people a year try this 100 mile trek through the Alaskan Wilderness, which has no route and does not allow use of a GPS—though you are allowed to carry a satellite phone if you get into real trouble. No one died until just recently, but the organizers explain that if you haven’t ever run a 100 mile super marathon, don’t even attempt this trek.
Self Transcendence 3100 Mile
Runners from around the world flock to the corner of a block in Queens, New York to complete this race, which is 52 days long and entails making 5,649 laps around one city block. Strange and almost hypnotic, some of the most experienced runners in the world call this race one of the toughest because of how mundane it actually is.
In the seven year history only 11 people have finished this ultra marathon in the icy regions of Canada that crosses racers into the Arctic Circle at Mile 23. From there, participants must brave temperatures that are 25 degrees below zero, as well as gale force winds that often spring up. And the whole 100 mile trek must be done in 191 hours, or 8 days total.