A fearless nutter paraglides down a mountain face, hops into a canoe, frantically paddles an icy lake, throws down his oars, sprints across an icy expanse, assembles a mountain bike and then tears off into the sunset.

Just a taster of what you can expect from some of the world's most wilfully deranged adventure races.

"Excuse me," you ask, not unreasonably. "What's an adventure race, then?" Well, basically, it's a competition that combines two or more sporting disciplines, with the added arse-ache of extreme orienteering thrown in for good measure.

'Sprint' adventure-race events are fairly short (all things being relative): lasting for a few hours, they see participants running, cycling, climbing, leaping and paddling their way through a clearly marked but often treacherous course. They're pretty hardcore.

Even hardcorer, however, are the more drawn-out adventure races, which can take days – or even weeks – to complete. These events often require bad-asses to team up in order to navigate their way across vast expanses, using only compasses, superhuman endurance, various modes of transport and old-fashioned bloody-mindedness.

The videos that follow showcase the world's most awe-inspiring athletes taking on the most jaw-dropping landscapes on the planet. Prepare to doff your cap.

And if these videos get you all riled-up to take on one of these life-changing events for yourself – perhaps alongside a few mates – head to our Pick A Challenge section and have a look-see at what's on offer...

Athleticism aside, the epic drone footage in this vid offers some "ooooh"-worthy views of stunning Chinese landscapes.

The event itself is the Wulong Mountain Quest, in which teams of four ultra-fit individuals tackle filthy mountain bike trails, steep climbs, knackering abseils and freezing lake-swims before staggering across the finish line.

The prize purse for 2015's event is a hefty £22,300, so you'd best start training right now. Or, simply sit back and enjoy this amazing video while eating a fig roll. Up to you.


Race length: 220k, split over four stages

Disciplines: Running, mountain-biking, kayaking, GPS-orienteering, caving, climbing, abseiling

Team size: Four competitors, mixed sex

Training commitment levels: Eight hours per week for six months

Bad-ass enough to take part? Head to Wulong Mountain Quest website for more info

Armed with a map, a compass and gritted teeth, Ural Adventure Race entrants tackle dusty trails, leech-filled bogs and poop-inducing rope climbs.

Granted, this video isn't quite as breathtaking as the previous one, but it's still a rip-roaring mix of "wow that looks like fun" and "wow that looks deranged, no thanks mate, you're alright".


Race length: 24 hours, eight hours or six hours

Disciplines: Biking, ridge running, boating and kayaking, orienteering, caving and abseiling

Team size: Duos

Training commitment levels: Three months at six hours per week

Mad enough to take part? Visit the Ural Adventure Race website for more info

The Red Bull X-Alps event has been dubbed the "toughest adventure race in the world" by the company's marketing department. After watching all six minutes of this video it's hard to disagree with them.

Around 30 ultra-loons hike, climb and paraglide their way across the entirety of the Alps – Salzburg to Monaco – in what has to be one of the most demented competitions ever conceived. The course takes in a staggering six countries (!) and it's not uncommon for the participants to trek 100k a day in pursuit of the prize purse.

Fair. Play.

RED BULL X-ALPS – the details

Race length: 1,000k

Disciplines: Hiking, climbing, paragliding

Team size: Solo

Training commitment levels: A lifetime of experience (plus ten hours per week on top of that)

Mad enough to take part? Visit the Red Bull X-Alps website for more info

2013's infamous Adventure Racing World Championship spanned the entire breadth of Costa Rica: from coast to coast (Pacific to Atlantic) and  border to border (Nicaragua to Panama).

Temperatures swung from from 5°C at night to a dehydrating 37°C in the day, and participants also had to contend with epic downpours, treacherous terrain and bitey crocodiles.

As a 'bonus', all the participants had to build their own bikes at the start line. This race takes flippin' liberties!


Race length: 700k; around 120 hours

Disciplines: Rafting, kayak (ocean and river), mountain biking, trekking, climbing, canyoning, coasteering

Team size: Unlimited

Training commitment levels: Six months at eight hours per week

Mad enough to take part? Visit the Adventure Racing World Championship website for more info

Sorry, there... cough... seems to be something in our eye... sniff...

If ever a video proved that dog is truly man/woman's best mate, this is it. In November 2014, the Swedish Peak Performance team were slogging through the final stages of a gruelling 700k rainforest adventure sprint across Ecuador in November when they stumbled across a whiffy-but-loveable stray dog, who they named Arthur.

Team captain Mikael Lindnord fed the dishevelled mutt a meatball and, from that moment on, the canine hobo didn't leave the team's side. He even swam out into raging waters when the team leapt into their kayak to tackle a raging river.

Press play on the vid above, but be warned: if you're in a public place, you're about to choke up like you're watching the final five minutes of Toy Story 3.

Adventure Racing World Series: Ecuador STATS

Race length: 700k; around 120 hours

Disciplines: Rafting, kayaking (ocean and river), mountain biking, trekking, ropes, coasteering, canyoning

Team size: Unlimited

Training commitment levels: Six months at eight hours per week

Mad enough to take part? Visit the Adventure Race World Series website for more info

This clip follows hardcore US adventure-racers Team YogaSlackers as they attempt to tame Patagonia. Expect illness, injuries and makeshift rafts, plus sideways rain and brrrr-cold conditions. Sounds like a typical British bank holiday Monday tbh. Dunno what they're moaning about!

These hardy North Dakota bad-asses have tackled the race four times, but all agreed that 2013 was by far the worst year of the lot. But thanks to some touching teamwork and serious bonding, the crew managed to stagger over the finish line, placing an impressive third.

This vid is a great demonstration of how good teammates can drive you onwards and upwards, even when you've just spent the last ten minutes bloiking your guts up behind a bush.


Race length: From 520km to 1112km depending on route

Disciplines: Trekking, climbing and related rope work, kayaking, mountain biking, and backcountry navigation

Teams: Four people, mixed sex

Ranking: First to cross the finish line wins

Training commitment levels: Six months at eight hours per week

Mad enough to take part? Visit the Patagonia Expedition Race website for more info