The 5 Toughest Races on Earth

Most people probably think races don’t get much harder than marathons. Believe it or not, there are people out there able to complete in as many as five marathons in a row, under the toughest conditions imaginable. Let’s have a look at the five toughest races in the world:

5. World Bog Snorkeling Championship

Well, this is really nowhere near as tough as the other four competitions on our list, but it is really crazy and disgusting, and we thought that was enough.


Bog Snorkeling is very popular in Wales, and the World Bog Snorkeling Championship dates back to 1985. This wacky race is held every August, at the Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells and gathers brave men and women from all around Britain.

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Contestants must swim through a 55 meter peat bog in the shortest time possible. They must be equipped with snorkels and flippers and are not allowed to use their hands while swimming, just the power of the flippers.

4. The Tough Guy Race

Are you tough enough? That’s the question you have to ask yourself before registering for the Tough Guy Race.


[Photo Credits]

Designed by Billy Wilson, a former Grenadier Guardsman, The Tough Guy Race claims to be the world’s most difficult one-day endurance course. Thousand of competitors gather in Perton, near Wolverhampton, England for what could accurately be described as torture. They have to first complete a cross-country run before reaching the hard part, an extreme assault course.

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The tough guys have to crawl through mud, climb obstacles, avoid flames, barbed-wire, smoke-bombs and electric charges in order to reach the finish line. Just to get an idea of how tough the Tough Guy Race really is, participants have to sign a “death warrant” saying they acknowledge the risks they are about to take.

Promoters say the US S.E.A.L.S. Assault Grinder Course is the only thing that comes close to the Tough Guy Race, in terms of difficulty.

3. The Barkley 100 Mile Run

Believed to be one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world, the Barkley 100 Mile Run is held every year, in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee.


The course of the Barkley Marathon consists of one 20-miles-long loop, but the runners must complete it five times to be able to claim they’ve bested the competition. It’s not as easy as it sounds, there are no aid stations along the course and contestants have a time limit. Each loop must be completed in 12 hours or less and, since 1986, when it was inaugurated, only 8 people have been able to finish the race within the 60 hours cut-off.


The Barkley 100 Mile Run has 16,500 meters of accumulated vertical climb and runners must also find at least 9 of 11 books along the course and remove a page as proof of completion.

2. Le Marathon des Sables

Known by many as the most difficult foot-race in the world, Le Marathon des Sables is also probably the most expensive.

Look at the "Resigned" look. More dunes to come....

Held annually in southern Morocco, The Marathon of Sands requires competitors to run 254 km through the Sahara Desert, while carrying all their gear in their backpacks. That’s about 5 and 1/2 normal marathons through the scorching desert heat, with water being supplied at specific checkpoints.

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The organizers will provide the water and the sleeping tents, but, the registration fee is roughly $5,000. Now, you have to be a real masochist to pay this much for torture. Two people have lost their lives during Le Marathon des Sables, since 1986.

1. The Badwater Ultramarathon

Also known as the “world’s toughest foot race” the Badwater Ultramarathon has contestants running 135 miles in the middle of July.

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Running in the middle of summer wouldn’t normally be that bad, only you have to do it in a place where temperatures are as high as 49 degrees Celsius. The race starts in the Badwater Basin, at 85 meters below sea-level, and ends at 2548 meters-high Whitney Portal.

The most difficult part of the course is traversing through Death Valley, a part of the Mojave Desert, considered the hottest place on Earth. Athletes try to run on the white line on the middle of the road to keep their shoes from melting.

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Most runners never make it to the finish line at their first attempt, especially because they have to complete the race without stopping.

2 Comments for "The 5 Toughest Races on Earth"

Lee Fudge says on December 20th, 2010 at 10:55 pm:

You should really qualify this by stating that these are the toughest foot races on Earth as the Atlantic Rowing Race makes these look like a weekend jaunt.


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