#06 | The 10 craziest races
© Les Finisseurs / Alexis Berg

All the races that have a length over 42 kilometres are called Ultramarathons. Just a few people are able to meet the conditions to register for these races and even less become finishers. Both physical and mental preparation need to be superlative.

We write about 10 races where people stretch the limits. Which is the toughest one? This is not an easy question to answer. Every runner has its strong and weak points and knows where they can give their best. Pay attention to the following events:

TOP 10

1. The Barkley Marathons

For a lot of people, this is the most extreme Trail in the world. It takes place since 1986 and is limited to 40 participants only. This event must be run in a 60 hours maximum, and the objective is to reach 100 miles (160 km). There have been 15 runners able to achieve this challenge in history. The Barkley Marathons are celebrated in Tennessee, between March and April every year.

2. Tor des Geants

Another trail that makes you tired only by the fact of reading its length. It takes place in Italy and participants have to run 330 kilometres in 150 hours max. Around 2000 volunteers make it possible with 43 provisions station, where runners rest, sleep and eat. The world record was broken in 2021 by the Italian Franco Collé, making it to the finish line in 66 hours and 43 minutes.

3. La Diagonale des Fous

In English, the Fools' Diagonal. This is a unique Trail for its physical demand under a singular landscape. It is run in Reunion, an African island that depends on France. It is located next to Madagascar and it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The 2021 edition had a length of 160 kilometres with more than 9.000 metres of positive elevation gain.

4. Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race

The longest foot race in the world. Almost 5.000 kilometres have to be run in a maximum of 52 days in Queens, New York. This is means jogging about 5.600 laps around a great block. This race takes place from June to August every year, which makes it hard for the high temperatures in this season. Ashpirihanal Aalto broke the record in 2015, finishing the race in 40 days and 9 hours.

5. Marathon des Sables

One of the most well-known ultramarathons worldwide. It has a length of 251 km (6 marathons) with a time limit of 6 days. It is celebrated in the Sahara desert, in Morrocco since 1986. Despite being one of the toughest, this is one of the races mentioned in the post with the highest completion rate (around 90%). There is a maximum of 800 participants in every edition. They are provided with 9 litres of water each day, under extremely hot conditions.

6. Ultra Trail du Montblanc

This race started in 2003 and takes place either in August or September in the Alps, around France, Italy and Switzerland. Its distance is 171 kilometres with a positive elevation gain of 10.000 metres. Without a doubt, it is one of the toughest Trails in Europe. Its best marks average 20 hours. Kilian Jornet got the victory in 3 editions (2008, 2009 and 2011).

7. Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run

With almost 30 years of history, the Hardrock is run in southern Colorado, in the United States. Again, Kilian Jornet won this race back to back from 2014 until 2017. To make it, you need to run 161 kilometres in 22 hours. Every year, the race is run in the opposite direction of the previous edition and when participants get to the finish line, they kiss a famous stone that has a picture of a ram.

8. Everest Marathon

It is run at an altitude of 5.000 metres above sea level, forcing the contestants to adapt to this situation for a few days. It was run in 1985 for the first time and despite not being as long as the other races on the list, the weather difficulties make it very tough. There is a half-marathon, a marathon and an ultramarathon of 60 km.

9. 6633 Arctic Ultra

An expedition that ends when they get to the Arctic Circle. It is a self-sufficiency race that takes place within amazing paths under unusually cold conditions. 75% of the participants don't make it to the finish line. Furthermore, every athlete has to lug a sledge.

10. Ultramaratón Badwater

Located in California, United States, this race has a positive elevation gain of 4000 metres. In the Valley of Death, temperatures get to almost 50ºC. Moreover, each participant needs to assemble their team because the organization doesn't have provisions stations. The starting point of the race is at the State's lowest altitude above sea level, whereas the finish line is the highest point.