If you can run a mile, then one day in the future, you will be able to run two. The same can be said for when you finish a 5k race, the signs all point towards you doubling that number a few months down the line. After this stage comes the milestones of any runner – the captivating high of finishing a half marathon, a high which can only be emulated upon the completion of a full one. When the time comes for you to finish your very first 26.2 miler, you’ll feel it both emotionally and physically.
What about after that though. Who is the final boss you must defeat to take the crown in your running quest? Their name is ultramarathon and they are, quite frankly kind of a big deal.
“We take a look at seven of the most extreme ultramarathons on the planet”
In layman’s terms, an ultramarathon is a running event that is longer than a traditional marathon. As you can probably guess, they’re brutal on the limbs and even more taxing mentally. Despite this, they are achievable for the committed runner. Honestly, even you reading this should know that with enough training and energy gel you will fall over that finish line.
Now, what if we told you that the finish line was over 50 miles away? And that, along the way, you will encounter bears and wolves (and numerous other dangers that threaten your very existence on this planet). This is just one example of what we’ve got in store for you as we take a look at seven of the most extreme ultramarathons on the planet (we’ve plucked one from each continent).
Europe – The Transylvanian Bear Races
Where: Transylvania, Romania
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Taking on an ultra is commendable in its own right but doing this while trying to avoid armies of wild bears is a whole different kettle of fish.
The setting for this one is the Gothic landscape of Romania, with unspoiled scenery and unforgettable sights. The Transylvanian Bear Race lets you charge through ancient Saxon Villages and murky forests.
The event finishes up with an infamous ascent of the Sighisoara Citadel. A location that just so happens to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
“If that wasn’t scary enough, you’ve also got the added likelihood of encountering bears and wolves”
If that wasn’t scary enough, you’ve also got the added likelihood of encountering bears and wolves out in the vast Romanian wilderness. The distance for this ultramarathon is set at 80km, with the cut off time for finishing at the 14 hour mark.
The last race took place way back in 2018, and since then, the trail has gone quiet. We can only imagine that the race organisers for the event have found their way into some local bear’s diet (hopefully this isn’t actually what’s happened, or we’re going to feel very bad about our joke).
Antarctica – The Ice Marathon
Where: Union Glacier, Antarctica
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The jig is up; we’ve been caught out once and for all. We know this isn’t technically an ultramarathon (it’s marathon length). This is a place that experiences katabatic winds, this is a marathon that takes place on the coldest continent on the planet. In our eyes, that makes it an ultra.
If you’re looking for that next big challenge, then mainland Antarctica is where you need to get yourself. If you consider yourself to be an adventure athlete, then surely the Ice Marathon is something you want to experience. This includes 300 km per hour wind gusts and an average altitude of about 7,000 ft.
“How do you prepare for something like this?”
How do you prepare for something like this? Get yourself on your local park run. The Great British weather is bound to get you all ready for the big day (either that or just, I don’t know, stick your head in the fridge for a bit).
Of course, with big risk comes big numbers. If you do want to take part in the Ice Marathon, you need to have a spare $17,900 (USD). With that price tag, you’d be annoyed if you didn’t get a finishers t-shirt at the end of the race wouldn’t you?
The Antarctic Ice Marathon is scheduled to take place on 14th December 2021 (register here). It will be the sixteenth edition of the event, and will take place just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the start of the Ellsworth Mountains.