Nothing is more satisfying than crossing the finish line of a long, enduring race and reaping the fruits of intense training and preparation that got you to that fateful point. Whether biking, running or whatever your athletic passion may be- pushing the limits is an exhilarating, life changing experience. Here are 8 extreme competitions that have garnered reputations for doing just that- forcing brave individuals to the brink mentally and physically in a way that many of us could not handle.
Race Across America
Get ready for 3,000 miles of biking goodness and a heaping dose of the land of the free, because this race is taking you across America from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic, and you’ve got 12 whopping days to complete the trek. The race may be done solo, or in teams of two, four, or eight (divided into segments between each rider). For the badass solo riders- expect as little as 90 minutes of sleep per day.
Runners get ready to melt your way to the finish line with this 135 mile summer run through the infamous Death Valley. Here, temperatures reach a toasty 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the asphalt reaches 200. Runners have been known to tread the white lines of the road because of melting shoes- man, hate when that happens. Don’t fret, you’ll get doused in ice cold water every 15 minutes to keep from overheating.
Iditarod Trail Invitational
Quite the opposite of Badwater, because instead of battling the heat you’ll be kissing the cold. You’ve got 30 days to run, bike, sled or ski your way across 1,000 miles of lovely Alaskan snow, carrying all of your own supplies. So how cold can it get out there? Temperatures can easily drop to -50 degrees Fahrenheit…yikes.
Marathon Des Sables
I’ll start by saying that two people have lost their lives during this race. It’s another desert scorcher and if you aren’t a pro, well, I refer you back to line one. You’ve got six days to cover 156 miles of the Sahara desert in Southern Morocco and all of your supplies are coming with you, in a backpack, on your back. This hotter-than-hell marathon is held annually in March, and you need $5,000 to enter.
With this run, you’ll get to experience the beauty of four different countries, as you race across Asia, South America, Africa and Antarctica against 199 other allotted competitors. Oh yea, did I mention it’s all through desert? Each stage (4) is 155 miles long. Runners do have the option of running one stage, but in order to race in Antarctica, you must to complete two other stages.
Discovery Diving Underwater Bike Race
Enjoy scuba diving and biking? Then this race is for you. Travel to Beaufort, NC where a boat carries competitors offshore and plops them 60 ft under the deep blue sea for a 100 ft long bike race through the Indra Shipwreck. Doesn’t sound too lengthy, but have you ever tried to peddle a bike underwater? Most participants cover six ft per minute! At the end, ditch your bike and kick your way back up to the world of the landlubbers. The abandoned bikes become part of an artificial reef laid to rest on the sandy bottom.
North American Wife Carrying Championship
Show you’re lovely lady how much you care by throwing her over your shoulders and lugging her beautiful curves up and down hills, over logs and through a muddy pond for this radical 280 yd race held annually in Newry, Maine. It takes two to make a relationship work- and this race definitely tests those limits. The reward for the winners? Win the wifey’s weight in beer and cash equal to five times her weight. Most importantly- don’t even think about dropping her no matter how much she nags, because a fallen wife equals added penalty time!
Run For Your Lives
Zombies are so in right now. Why not add them to your race life or better yet, become one? Yep, now you can race alongside your brain-eating buddies with this deadly 5km, obstacle-laden marathon. You not only have to focus on your endurance, but also on the terrifying zombies chasing you around the course. You can even sign up to be a zombie if you don’t want to race! Held year round across the U.S. it’s perfect for testing your survival skills in case of an actual zombie apocalypse.