If you feel you’ve plateaued in regards to physical fitness, there might be only one avenue left for you: ultramarathons. Below you’ll find a list of the most challenging and unique ultras this giant carbon ball has to offer.
Badwater 135. Consider this the OG of ultras, as it’s been touted as the world’s toughest foot race and has been taking place for 37 years. The Badwater 135 used to take competitors on a 135 mile odyssey through Death Valley in July, but due to a National Park Service ban on athletic events in Death Valley, this marathon now sends its participants from Lone Pine, California to the top of Mt. Whitney. The new course forces participants to endure roughly 19,000 in elevation changes.
Hardrock 100. This ultra sends competitors on a 48 hour mission to conquer the rocky terrain of Silverton, Colorado. In two days, competitors must cover 100 miles and battle the respiratory restrictions imposed by the changes in elevation, which total 33, 992 feet in ascent and descent. Seasoned runners push themselves a total of 13 different times at an elevation of 12,000 feet. Not for the weak-kneed or tiny-lunged.
6693 Ultra. Started in 2007, only 11 people have finished this marathon of madness. Racers can pick between a course of a 120 or 350 miles, but no matter what, you’re going to run through the Arctic Circle towards the Arctic Ocean while dragging a sled of supplies behind you. Zero degrees is considered a nice temperature, but it’s very unlikely you’ll get it. If you’re currently wishing for warm weather, this isn’t the ultra for you, but if you’re that kook running in shorts and sneakers through road salt and slush then this might be the challenge you’ve been looking for.
Barkley Marathons. The Barkleys isn’t just hard on the body, but on the mind as well, as competitors must navigate the trail-less course through brush, find copies of books, and bring a page back for their 20 mile loop to count. It’s held on April Fool’s Day weekend, quite fittingly, and only water is given to the competitors. Participants have 60 hours to complete either 60 or 100 miles (so between three and five loops). Navigation might be the biggest challenge here, but consider the fact that only 14 out of 1,000 people have finished this ultra on time.
Marathon de Sables. If you’re a glutton for punishment, this might be the ultra for you. The Marathon de Sables is 154 miles through the Sahara desert, meaning there are sections you couldn’t run if you wanted to due to the fine sand prohibiting such fluent motion from happening. Three runners have died on the course, even though around 1,000 enter each year. Unlike the 6698 Ultra, temperatures are often above 100 degrees for much of this one, so if you have a body that tends to run hot, this might not be the best choice.