For the average healthy individual, running a marathon or doing a triathlon seems completely out of reach. There are several events around the world that push those average people beyond their limits. From high-altitude cycling, to swimming a few miles in the ocean, these races aren’t for the faint of heart. They will challenge every muscle fiber and bone in your body, but they will also give you a sense of accomplishment and power you never thought possible.
Transpyr in Spain
This race is certainly one to behold. Taking place in the great Pryenees mountains, mountain bike enthusiasts race through rugged trails and high altitudes for a week straight. This challenge is the hardest in the world for mountain biking, and it requires great planning and stamina to make it through. The goal is to go from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Ironman in Kona, Hawaii
The infamous Ironman race is hosted yearly in the hot and sunny Kona, Hawaii. Triathletes from around the world gather here to swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42km. It doesn’t sound so bad in writing, but when you add in the hot sun, the windy air and the brutal ocean, it makes for one epic challenge.
Leadville Trail 100 Run in Colorado
If you haven’t guessed by the title, this race is 100 miles in length. It takes place at over 10,000 feet in altitude, and is a struggle for even the fittest athletes. This ultra-marathon isn’t for anyone that is out of shape. Physical conditioning is a must, and training in high altitude is even more important.
BC Bike Race in British Columbia
While most races focus on stamina and length, this race focuses solely on skills and speed. This mountain bike race challenges various skills over the course of a few days. The average rider spends four hours per day competing through twisted trails and other challenges.
Badwater Ultra Marathon
This race is considered the toughest on the planet, but that is subjective based on the skills of the individuals racing. Connecting Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, this race is a bridge between the lowest-elevation point in the USA and the highest. The elevation gain reaches over 19,000 feet, making it a challenge on the body and lungs.
Rouge Roubaix in Louisiana
On a bike you will ride 170.5km through the rough back country in Louisiana. The dirt and gravel trails pass through narrow forests paths. The deathly humidity and heat make this challenging bike race even harder.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica
Volcanoes, mud and jungle are all part of this grueling race in Costa Rica. The goal is to ride from the Pacific to the Caribbean over the course of three days. You will race through thick mud. You will fight through the jungle on your bike. You will race on the side of a volcano. This race is challenging in every aspect.
H.U.R.T. 100 in Hawaii
This tropical foot race is challenging and requires great endurance. Through the rough tropical area in Hawaii, racers try to finish the 100 miles as quickly as possible. No one has finished it in under 20 hours. You must come prepared with food, supplies and adequate water.
Haute Route in Switzerland and France
Day after day you will face high-elevation climbs that start in Geneva, Switzerland. This race spans all the way to Nice, France. You will see breathtaking landscapes before you, but you better save your awe for when you finish the race. This is one challenge that even the most seasoned pros can’t handle.
Cent Cols Challenge in Europe
Heaps of brawn, muscle, mental power and endurance are required for this race. Each day you will travel 200km through tough mountain roads. You will repeat this for a week. The routes are powerful, beautiful and they will make you cry. If you are up for the challenge of a lifetime, then Cent Cols is as good as any.
SavageMan Triathlon in Maryland
This is an interesting race that sets itself apart from others with a bonus challenge. The triathlon itself is standard as far as races go, but there is one special part that is extraordinarily different. There’s a road that is closed off and no longer in use because it has a 31 percent incline. SavageMan participants must race up this wall of road without falling off their bike. Their names immortalized in brick if they can do it successfully. Few participants have been able to do it, and it requires skill and speed to achieve.
Breck Epic in Colorado
Elevation is the killer in this race. Cyclists take on a fairly manageable trail. Once they reach Wheeler Pass, it gets real. Most cyclists cannot manage to ride their bike through this pass, and it requires a heavy hike. This 382.6km race is a struggle, but worth the feeling of accomplishment at the end.