Original publication by RaceID
The Pikes Peak Marathon is one tough race. The 7,815' vertical climb complete with rocks, roots, turns, and steep grades followed by the grueling downhill return to the base has been appropriately termed "America's Ultimate Challenge". In 2022, there were 864 registered runners representing 42 states and 10 countries. Runners came from around the world to test their physical and mental abilities against the 14,115' Pikes Peak. But how do the unique challenges of Pikes Peak relate to other marathons around the world? The team at RaceID set out to find out just that. What are the most extreme marathons in the world? It turns out, Pikes Peak ranks #4 in their top 10.
RaceIDs 10 of the Most Extreme Marathons in the World
26.2 miles or 42.195km is a classic distance and the official length of a marathon. There are many epic and extreme races around the world, but not all can be classified as marathons in the traditional sense. We therefore went on a search for the most extreme marathons over the classic distance in the world.
Situated on all continents the marathons we found are very different and offer a wide variety of challenges for participants. Ranging from steep and continuous ascents to battling ice cold or even wild animals one thing is for sure and that is that participants will never forget the experience of doing one of these ten races.
1. The North Pole Marathon, North Pole
With extreme sub-zero temperatures the Geographical North Pole offers one of the worlds, if not the most extreme marathons on the planet. Labeled “The World’s Coolest Marathon” participants who finish will become members of a very exclusive club of a few hundreds of people in the whole world. The race takes participants over snow and arctic ice flows with the course situated near and around the Geographical North Pole.
More info: https://www.npmarathon.com
Image courtesy to: North Pole Marathon
2. The Antarctic Ice Marathon, Antarctica
The south pole may offer one of the most unique and incredible endurance race experiences in the world. With a quite hefty price tag of $19,500 USD participants enter a very exclusive club of runners who can say that they have done the Southernmost Marathon on Earth.
More info: https://www.icemarathon.com
Image courtesy to: Antarctic Ice Marathon
3. The Big 5 Marathon, South Africa
Running a marathon in the habitat of some of the world’s most spectacular (and dangerous) animals must be considered unique and extreme. The Big 5 Marathon does just that where you run next to Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalos, Lions and Leopards. There are no fences, rivers or barriers that separates the runners of the marathon from the wildlife living in the habitat.
More info: https://big-five-marathon.com
Image courtesy to: Albatros Adventure Marathons
4. Pikes Peak Marathon, USA
Starting at Manitou Springs, the Pikes Peak Marathon takes you on a 7815 foot (2382m) vertical climb all the way up to Pikes Peak summit at 14115 ft (4300m) and back down. This is a marathon like no other as it takes you on a wide variety of trails averaging an elevation of 11% grade. Participants will truly be challenged physically as well as mentally due to the course's challenging nature. The race is run in September each year and selected as part of the Golden Trail Series 2022.
More info: https://www.pikespeakmarathon.org
Image courtesy to: Pikes Peak Marathon
5. Everest Marathon, Nepal
The world’s highest marathon gives you a challenge like no other! The marathon starts at the Everest Base Camp and takes you 42.195km to Namche Bazar with a course mainly downhill. The terrain itself is a real challenge as it goes mainly on trekking trails taking participants down from a whopping +5000m to just below 3500m. The race takes place in May each year.
More info: https://everestmarathon.com
Image courtesy to: Everest Marathon
6. Jungfrau Marathon, Switzerland
Self-claimed as the “most beautiful marathon in the world”, the Jungfrau Marathon in the Swiss Alps will be sure to give you a tough adventure beside its spectacular scenery. With a climb of 1953 meters you are sure to be given a serious challenge before reaching the finish line at 2320 meters altitude.
More info: https://www.jungfrau-marathon.ch/en/
Image courtesy to: Jungfrau Marathon
7. Baikal Ice Marathon, Russia
Siberia offers one of the most extreme races on the planet. Approximately 65 kilometers from Itkursk you find the beautiful lake of Balkai where one of the The Baikal Ice Marathon is a running race over 42.195k solely on ice. Not only are participants challenged by the vast plains of iced surface, but participants must also master the cold.
More info: https://www.absolute-siberia.com/en/pages/ice_marathon.html
Image courtesy to: Baikal Ice Marathon
8. Patagonian International Marathon, Chile
In Torres del Paine National Park participants from all over the world gather in September each year to experience the Patagonian International Marathon. The course takes participants through the national park that is situated at the 51° south latitude with an elevation difference of approx. 1000 meters. Running in Patagonia means harsh conditions but also a completely unique experience in epically sculptured surroundings over 70 million years in formation.
More info: https://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/en/
Image courtesy to: Patagonian International Marathon
9. Australian Outback Marathon, Australia
The Australian Outback invites everyone that truly wants to get off the beaten track. With the majestic Ayers Rock as backdrop the full marathon takes you from Uluru to Kata Tjuta. The course is relatively flat, but the challenge lies in mastering a great variety of terrain, such as outback roads, sand dunes and trails.
More info: https://australianoutbackmarathon.com
Image courtesy to: Australian Outback Marathon
10. The Great Wall Marathon, China
Each year, along one of mankind’s greatest structures, the Great Wall Marathon takes place in May. With an ascent of 5164 steps, participants are sure to be given a real challenge on the cobbled surface of The Wall’s pathway.
More info: https://great-wall-marathon.com/
Image courtesy to: Albatros Adventure Marathons
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