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Extreme Marathons

All around the world, super athletes test the limits of endurance:

Engadin Ski Marathon, Sils, Switzerland. More than 10,500 skiers participate in the 26.2-mile race between Maloja and S-Chanf near the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz.

Marathon des Sables, Ouarzazate, Morocco. The Marathon of the Sands takes place over six grueling days, and stretches 156 miles, the equivalent to six regular marathons. The longest single stage is 52 miles long. Considered the toughest foot race on Earth, competitors must carry all their personal belongings and food for the entire event in a backpack. As of 2007, two competitors have died during the race.

Ironman Triathlon World Championship, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This classic test of stamina combines three endurance events — a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride across the Hawaiian lava desert, and a 26.2-mile marathon along the coast of the Big Island. The current course record is 8 hours 4 minutes and 8 seconds.

Grand Raid Cristalp, Verbier, Switzerland. Each year, 4,000 competitors test themselves on an 81.3-mile course across six Alpine valleys, with 16,400 feet of elevation gain in 41 miles of climbing, reaching a maximum height of almost 9,200 feet.


North Pole Marathon, The North Pole. Recognized by the Guinness World Records as the Northernmost Marathon on Earth, the North Pole event is run entirely across the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean.


Engadin Ski Marathon, Sils, Switzerland. Though the race boasts the word marathon in its name, competitors say that the cross-country course is relatively easy to finish.

Extreme Arctic Challenge, Ammassalik, Greenland. Participants in this 5-day event, billed as the ultimate test of human endurance, compete in disciplines such as canoeing, cycling, glacier hiking and mountain trekking.

Great Tibetan Marathon, Leh, Ladakh, India. Situated at approximately 11,500 feet, the Tibetan Marathon is the world’s highest altitude long distance race.

Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon, Death Valley, Nevada. The starting point for this race is located at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level and the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and finishes at the Mt. Whitney Portals, 8,360 feet above sea level. The winner usually completes the course in under 24 hours.

Jungfrau Marathon, Interlaken, Switzerland. Approximately 3,500 runners from 35 different nations compete along a 26.2-mile course that climbs 5,960 feet in elevation.