7 toughest outdoor challenges
The most extreme tests in the world
Some humans seem to be able to push beyond the realm of reality and take on superhuman strength to overcome almost impossible physical and mental challenges. Here we show you some of the toughest endurance tests in the world.
Marathon des Sables, Morocco
For many, the Marathon des Sables is the king of all tough events; it’s a Mecca for those who live for an outdoor challenge. The race, which takes place in the Sahara Desert, is an incredible feat of endurance and determination. It is 150 miles long (for those of you who can’t comprehend this distance, that’s six marathons in six days) and generally takes people six days to complete.
Under the relentless Moroccan sun, runners pass through sand dunes, evacuated towns and saltpans. At night the exhausted participants share tents with one another and many make life-long friendships. We can certainly see why this unique challenge is appealing, but it is without a doubt a formidable race full of unseen dangers and nasty sandstorms.
Siberian Black Ice Race, Siberia
If you’re not a fan of sub-zero temperatures then this race is not for you. As the name suggests the Siberian Black Ice Race takes place in Siberia, on black ice. Those who dare to enter this event commit to racing across the ice either by kite, bike or ski. Distances vary and there are two options: the marathon or the ultra-marathon. After trekking through the wild and raw icy plains the hardcore participants are treated to a ride back to the start-line on the Trans-Siberian Express; a thought that might help you make it through this tough outdoor challenge.
The Great Wall Marathon, China
Do you know when you’re in a big rush and you climb the stairs in your building really quickly? Do you know how hot and flustered and tired you become? If you do, you’re going to feel for those crazy people who enter the Great Wall Marathon. Those who enter have to try and complete a marathon that has an insane 5,164 steps along the route.
Yet, these stairs are not your average, symmetrical, 1ft high steps. They are monsters. Some are waist high. The Great Wall Marathon certainly takes the phrase ‘step up’ to a whole new level.
The Tour d'Afrique, Africa
Without a doubt the Tour d’Afrique had to make it onto the seven toughest outdoor challenges list. This extreme endurance test takes place in Africa on bikes. If you fancied taking part in this expedition you have to be extremely dedicated as the race is around 7,500 miles long, which would take a fit person around four months to complete. Four months!
Riders describe the race using words like ‘cruel’ and ‘impenetrable’ and considering the harsh deserts the cyclists ride through and the inconceivable temperatures it’s easy to see why.
Run For Your Lives, United States
Although Run For Your Lives is not as physically demanding as some of the other tough outdoor challenges on this list, it is certainly a mental challenge. The Run For Your Lives event is a 5k race that is held annually in the United States and is a horror fest. Actors dress up as bloodied and mutilated zombies (which are shockingly lifelike), clowns and other spooky personas. Each actor aims to scare the wits out of the runners who are attempting to scramble through the obstacle course.
The aim of the race is to avoid the zombies, who attempt to take participants’ health flags. If you lose all of your flags you transform into a zombie; we told you this race was extreme.
Tough Mudder, worldwide
Being electrocuted by live wires, running through fire and carrying hefty logs up steep inclines doesn’t sound like the best way to spend your Saturday, yet those who participate in the Tough Mudder races choose to spend their free time doing challenging tasks like this. The races take place all over the world, from Japan to Canada, yet despite being in different locations they are all as nasty and tough as each other.
The 16-19km (10-12 mile) obstacle course was designed by British Special Forces and really does test every area of your fitness and strength. It will push you beyond what you thought was capable. If you doubt the toughness of this race, be aware that before entering a Tough Mudder event you must pledge to ‘overcome all fears’.
Valparaiso Cerro Abajo, Chile
For this race you are going to need a helmet and some safety pads because it is unbelievably dangerous. Cyclists attempt to make it safely down a hillside obstacle course in Chile whilst being watched by thousands of intrigued stunt enthusiasts. Many cyclists fail to navigate their way to the bottom of this tricky course in one piece and we don’t blame them; stairs, sickeningly high jumps and buildings are all a part of the course and all contribute to make the route a real challenge, even for the most experienced of riders.