If you’ve hit a roadblock and are struggling to think of ways you can keep yourself motivated by new fitness challenges, you might want to take a look at a few of these ideas that’ll send you reaching for your runners and trotting off towards the treadmill.
Arrowhead Winter UltraMarathon, Minnesota
This marathon is so intense that you can actually opt to ski it rather than run it if your body isn’t up to the challenge. It’s a whopping 135 miles (around 217 kilometres) which means a 20 hour minimum slog through the snow. To give you an idea of just how much physical exertion this kind of race takes; last year’s winner began the race at 7:00 in the morning and finished the next day at 3:00am. You can sign up here.
As always with cold weather running – prepare yourself! Layer up, get a wind-proof jacket and a balaclava or other type of hat that will also protect your face. As a lot of the race will take place during the evening, wear reflective clothing and also bring a torch, if only to keep track of those wolf prints in the snow.
After you’ve tackled the race, you can relax and enjoy the hotspots of wintry Minnesota.
The Chasqui Challenge has been described as a ‘100 mile multi stage adventure run’. This is one hell of an adventure, however, beginning at an altitude of 11,150ft in Cuzco (if you’re leaving the family behind to do the run, Cuzco has some great museums and ruins for them to explore). The race trails through the lost city of Machu Picchu and then goes around Mt. Ausangate, making it the best marathon if you’re going for a holiday/fitness combo. At 14 days this is going be a massive hit to your annual leave, but as far as seeing the sights of the world goes, it can’t really be beaten. The next race will take place from August 1st til 15th (applications should be in by February 2015 at the latest) and the cost for the entire marathon, including camping, is 3795USD.
Haria Extreme – Lanzarote, Europe
Lanzarote is a popular tourist destination for Europeans in search of some sunshine, but it’s also home to a wealth of volcanos (some of which are aptly named Fire Mountain), which make the Haria Extreme race, atop the lava-strewn landscape, all the more appealing to thrill-seeking runners.
This race is only 32km in length, but after you’ve crawled up mountains, sunk into the soft sand on the beach and pounded the barren, rocky landscape, you’ll realise why it comes under the ‘extreme marathon’ category. You’ll have to do some serious uphill training before tackling this one unless you want to hit the wall, but the after-party with the hundreds of cheering Spaniards will make it all seem worth it.
All the information about the race can be found here. If you’re dragging along family or friends who are expecting to be entertained as well as to play audience to your stunning defeat, you might be better off staying in the south of the island in somewhere like Puerto del Carmen which has a lot of things to do, and then taking them across to the Timanfaya National Park for some volcano spotting!
Running on snow is difficult enough, but over 5 days and in -12 to -20 degree temperatures, it’s nigh on impossible. Luckily snowmobiles are on hand the entire way if you get stuck, or don’t manage to complete the race. Unpredictable weather conditions mean there are often pauses or delays for several days – so it’s a case of ‘run when you can’!
Getting there is most runners’ biggest concern, but there are tour operators who will organise the entire thing for you. Generally they will fly you from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia in Argentina, then you’ll hop on a boat to the South Pole, then it’s a short dinghy ride to the start line. The bonus of this extra effort is that when the race is done and dusted, you’ll get to kayak amongst the glaciers in a white world that resembles a postcard, whilst getting to see the kind of wildlife most people only ever witness on TV.
This is an incredibly popular race for runners and sightseers alike, so you’ll need to book a couple of years in advance (2015 and 2016 are already full!) This is the travel operator that
organises the tours, if you’re up for it. (The youngest person to run this race is 14 years old – there’s some motivation for you!)
Ran a marathon that is more extreme than any of these? Let us know!