Extra Virgin October 2009
Travel

Not So Fun Runs- Arthur Christopher

There is endurance racing, there is foolish endurance racing and then there is this: Our list of the five most ludicrously gruelling races on our planet. This is not for the faint hearted, its for the faintly insane.

The Race Across America

The Tour de France lasts three weeks and covers 35, 000 kilometres. Many regard it as the world’s toughest bike race. Those people have clearly never heard of The Race Across America, which covers three times that distance in a third of the time. The race is exactly what it says on the tin – riders cycle across America as fast as they can, with no stages, time trials or break days. Winners in recent years have done it in eight days.

http://www.raceacrossamerica.org


The Badwater Ultramarathon

Imagine running the Comrades, turning around, and running back. Now add 30 kilometres. Now imagine you did it in 50 Centigrade heat and finished the race 2500m above sea level. That will give you some idea of what it takes to finish the Badwater Marathon, which quite fairly describes itself as the “world’s toughest foot race”. Fittingly, it takes place in California’s ‘Death Valley’ and it is no surprise that very few runners ever finish.

www.badwater.com


Marathon des Sables

If Badwater sounds tough, then you’d better cover your eyes for this one. The Marathon des Sables covers 245 kilometres of the world’s most barren terrain: the Sahara desert. Runners are given no assistance from teams or race officials – they must carry their own food and supplies with them and camp for the eight days of competition wherever their legs stop working for the day. The marathon’s official website declares: “Go out and raise money and train for the craziest thing you are ever likely to undertake.” It’s not selling it to me, really.

www.saharamarathon.com

Eco-challenge Endurance race

In 2002 a documentary narrated, perplexingly, by David Duchovny brought to the screen the naked insanity that is the Eco-Challenge Endurance Race. Teams from around the world race for 24 hours a day for a week, usually crossing a country without using any motorized form of transport. The TV series such endeavours inevitably spawned sent teams to compete, which gave rise to more on screen crying than a box set of Grey’s Anatomy. The series was axed, but the race lives mercilessly on.

http://www.eco-challenge.com.my

Yukon Quest

Being dragged around Alaska for nine days by a pack of dogs is not a normal person’s dream come true. But with over R1million in prize money and a Dodge truck for the winner it’s something more and more people are willing to endure. The race covers 1,600 kilometres on frozen rivers, over four mountain ranges, and through isolated northern villages. Mushers must take their own supplies (most of which is dog food) and no replacement dogs can be used. Of the 30 odd mushers who have made up the field every year since the inaugural event in 1984, over 35% have not finished.


www.yukonquest.com


 


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