Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Ultramarathons | 7 of the World’s Most Extreme Running Events

From the rainforest of South America to the ice sheet of Antarctica, get these ultramarathons on your bucket list

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
Distance: 80km


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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
Distance: 42.195km


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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.

Asia – The Everest Trail Race

Where: Mount Everest, Nepal
Distance: 153km

The Everest Trail Race isn’t just an ultramarathon. It ranks as one of the toughest endurance events on the planet. Set in one of the most awe-inspiring backdrops known to man, getting to gaze at Everest is the only comforting factor in this event. Especially when you consider the depletion of oxygen and the brutal altitude of more than 25,000 metres that you’ll be faced with.

You need to cover 156km in six days in order to officially complete this ultramarathon. You will be expected to carry mandatory equipment on your person at all times, including a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a first aid kit. Get ready to traipse through frozen earth and snow-covered trails on this one.

“You need to cover 156km in six days”

Snacks, meals, and water are provided by the race organisers at the different stages, so you won’t be expected to hunt for your food in the snowy terrain of Everest. This is a challenge for anyone who considers themselves to be superhuman.

Running around on the highest mountain in the world is no easy feat. The Everest Trail Race isn’t just an ultramarathon, it’s one of the most challenging running events in existence.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, registration for the event has been postponed, with the next event hopefully taking place in November 2021 (register here). On the plus side, that will give you more time to train for this daunting ultra.

North America – The Hardrock 100

Where: Silverton, Colorado
Distance: 161km


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The Hardrock 100 takes place in North America in the rocky and rugged Colorado Mountains. Participants can look forward to over 100 miles of course, which incorporates over 66,100 feet of elevation. The run is very taxing on the limbs, with the course going from dirt trail to mountain terrain in the blink of an eye.

There is no doubt that you need to be an accomplished runner if you wish to even have a chance of finishing this ultramarathon. In actual fact, even when you reach the desired distance that doesn’t mean you complete the race.

This course doesn’t ask you to cross a finish line. It asks you to ‘kiss the rock’, and no we don’t mean the Hollywood actor. We are talking about a picture of a ram’s head painted on a large block of stone. Only after kissing this rock will you complete the challenge that is this crazy ultramarathon.

“Only after kissing this rock will you complete the challenge”

If you want to face some tests in altitude, steepness, and the general wilderness, then this might just have to be your next ultramarathon challenge. This event is best suited to those with good navigation skills, and those who love to feel adventure coursing through their feet. If you love running, you’ll love The Hardrock 100.

The next event is scheduled to take place on the 16th of July 2021 (register here).

South America – The Jungle Ultra

Where: Manu National Park, Peru
Distance: 230km

Get ready to quit your job and finally tell your boss what you really think of them. After locking eyes with this ultramarathon, you’ll never want to work another day in your life.

Allow us to introduce you to the Jungle Ultra. Deep down in the Manu National Park, in the Amazon Rainforest, is where you’ll find one of the most captivating ultras on the planet.

For the price of £2,750, this incredible opportunity could be yours to explore. Plus, come on, you will definitely be the envy of all your friends. Get ready to be exposed to the lush unspoiled jungle where the Amazon wildlife resides in all corners. This five staged ultra is nothing short of a modern-day pilgrimage as you set about covering 230km of South American landscape.

The starting point for the Jungle Ultra is the Cloud Forest in Peru, where you’ll come across breathtaking views of the Andes mountains. This isn’t the only thing that will be taking your breath away either. Runners should expect to face choking humidity in the hot and humid Brazilian climate. At times, honestly, it will feel unbearable.

There are multiple river crossings to cool off in though as you battle through every kilometre, and wrestle for some type of control in this uncontrollable environment.

“There are multiple river crossings to cool off in”

At various points along this trail, you will also be expected to follow the route in complete darkness – you’ll be equipped with nothing but a head torch to guide your way. The most important thing to carry though will be your instinct, as one wrong turn could be fatal. Race organisers have been kind to provide you with accommodation to rest in, in the form of research stations and lodges. At least you’ll have some protection from the dangers that lurk in the night.

This is the Jungle Ultra. Take on this hostile rain forest at your own peril.

The next event is scheduled to take place on the 6th of June 2021 (register here).

Africa – Marathon des Sables

Where: Ouarzazate, Morocco
Distance: 251km


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If the devil exists, his holiday home can probably be found ringside at the Marathon des Sables. Expect to deal with 50°C heat if you ever try taking on this legendary ultramarathon.

To complete this race is the stuff of legend, and something that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. This multi-stage adventure takes place in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments, the Sahara Desert.

It has been coined the toughest footrace on earth, and when you see what you must cover to beat it, you begin to understand why. In six days, you’ll be expected to cover over 250km. You’ll encounter sand dune after sand dune, and white-hot salt plains that will make you thankful for everything cold in the world.

“This multi-stage adventure takes place in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments”

Alongside 1,000 other runners from across the world, you’ll face the extreme heat as you make your way through what will undoubtedly be one of toughest experience of your life.

The Marathon des Sables is scheduled to happen on the 1st April 2021, but not to worry, you can look ahead to 2022 by registering here.

Oceania – Ultra-Trail Australia

Where: Katoomba, Australia
Distance: 100km

What better way to finish things than down under in wonderful sunny Australia. The serene town of Katoomba is where thousands of runners will be flocking to come May 2021. They’ll be doing so to take part in Ultra-Trail Australia. This run in the Blue Mountains also happens to be the biggest trail run in the Southern Hemisphere.

The location for this ultra serves up incredibly special views. This running event has aged over the best part of 14-years to take the form of one of the most sought after running festivals in the world. It also has 11, 22, and 50km options for people who don’t fancy doing an ultramarathon.

“The biggest trail run in the Southern Hemisphere”

The absolute pinnacle of this celebration of running is the UTA100. This event will put your legs to the test by making you trek up and down the natural landscape. You’ll explore places like the Golden Stairs, Leura Forest, and the Furber Steps; places that have etched themselves into running folklore over the years.

This is a bucket list race for many a runner, one that captures the imagination and refuses to let go. After 99km of running, you’ll reach those famous Furber Steps. 951 steps will stand between you and the finish line.

Once you’ve crossed that line, you really will have put the ultra in ultramarathon.

This running festival will take place from the 13-16 May 2021 (register here).

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