So you've run a marathon eh? Think you're pretty amazing now don't you? Well, you may want to think again. Some of the most serious athletes won't even consider running the standard weekend marathon. No, they want the most extreme, gruelling weather conditions and life-threatening terrain. Next time you're planning to sign up for a marathon you may want to check out these races– considered the most extreme marathons in the world.
North Pole and Antarctic Ice Marathons
The North Pole Marathon takes place in sub-zero temperatures on arctic ice floes. This makes it the only marathon run on frozen water. The Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place during an average windchill temperature of -20 C and at an altitude of 3,000 feet. But this isn't the hardest part.. In fact, some say the hardest thing about the North Pole Marathon is actually getting to it.
The Great Wall Marathon
There are 5,164 steps (climbed twice through the course) to this marathon at The Great Wall of China, which means it takes athletes 50 per cent longer to complete than the average marathon. The nice part about this marathon is the fact you get to tour while running. In fact, you'll get to see parts of China that regular tourists never get to see, including villages and rice fields. You can run this marathon in 5 km, 10 km and half-marathon form.
The Pikes Peak Marathon
If a challenge is what you are looking for you must complete the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colorado. This run is all about uphill and downhill. In fact, the course has very few stretches of area that are not going uphill. While you are looking for that extra push of strength to get through this run you must also look for protruding rocks that could send you crashing to the ground. This marathon has been dubbed “America's Ultimate Challenge.”
Valley Badwater Ultramarathon
Known as the world's toughest footrace, this California marathon begins at the lowest elevation in North America and covers three mountain ranges in temperatures reaching 55 degrees C. This race is so difficult it is only opened to 90 of the world's toughest endurance athletes.
Dead Sea Ultra Marathon
This marathon in Jordan is mostly downhill. Athletes run from Amman, which sits about 900 meters above sea level, to the Dead Sea, which sits about 400 metres below sea level. But this is a hot one. There is barely any shade in this desert-like area so runners are exposed to some extreme heat and must use extra sunscreen to protect their skin.