What are the toughest ultramarathons in the world?

What are the toughest ultramarathons in the world?
By Emma Beswick
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The Bolivian Skyrace is billed as one of the world's most difficult races. Which other races can runners use to test their endurance?


Runners from around the world took part in the Bolivian Skyrace yesterday (July 30) attempting a gruelling climb up the ‘Highway of Death’.

Billed as one of the world’s most difficult races, the trail climbs some 1,800 meters over 28 kilometres.

Which other races can runners use to test their endurance?

Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile

Held in Queens, New York, Self-Transcendence tests competitors’ mental strength as they run 5,649 mind-numbing laps around the same city block. They must complete 4,989 miles in the space of 52 days.

Marathon des Sables

Sometimes referred to as ‘toughest footrace on the planet’, the Marathon des Sables in Morocco stretches over 250km which entrants run over six days in 120-degree heat.

6633 Ultra

The 6633 Ultra’s website claims the race, which takes place in Canada, is the “toughest, coldest, windiest ultra distance footrace on the planet”.

A self-sufficient foot race, the two available courses of 193km and 563km cross the Arctic circle at a latitude of 66 degrees and 33 minutes, hence the name.

Just 11 people have crossed the finish line in the event’s seven-year history.

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

With parts of the race at high altitude (>2500m) in the French Alps the 171km, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc amounts to a higher climb than Mount Everest.

Crossing three countries, the course attracts some of the best trail runners in the world.

Dragon’s Back Race

Connecting the Conwy Castle and Carreg Cennen Castle in Wales, the Dragon’s Back Race is nearly 300km long and has 16km of gruelling up hill battle.

Traversing both Mount Snowdon and the Black Mountains, the race was put on hold for twenty years after it first took place in 1992 after it was deemed too hard.

Jungle Ultra

The Jungle Ultra takes place in the Peru, dropping 3.2km to the jungle floor and crossing around 70 rivers and streams.

“As you are in the jungle you will face humidity levels reaching near 100 percent, making sweating useless in maintaining your core body temperature,” the website warns.

Plain 100

Only 35 runners a year attempt 160 completely unsupported kilometres on remote paths that cross Washington’s Cascades.

Plain 100 rules state that runners cannot receive any help and must work out how to get back to civilisation on their own.

In the first eight years of the race, only four people finished.

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