Marathons are a modern test of accomplishment. A way to put your body through some of the most gruelling and scenically beautiful trails around, while pushing it to its very limits.
Since the first Olympics were held in Athens, the standard was set to 42km (26.2 miles). However, some modern marathon organisers have more than doubled this for some of their events, and now there are marathons that go on for 80km (50 miles).
Regardless of whether that’s your cup of tea or not, the ability to say you’ve competed in a marathon is an honour unlike any other. If you’ve ever wondered what the three toughest marathons in the world are, in order to set yourself a new challenge, then look no further.
The Everest Marathon
With a course of only 26.2 miles, you may be fooled into thinking that perhaps Everest Marathon isn’t so tough. However, since it starts at the Everest Base Camp which is 5364m/17,598ft it’s definitely the highest marathon in the world. It takes 14-days to reach the base camp and starting point, and it finishes at Namche Bazaar, a Nepalese village which is found at 3446m (11306ft).
This 14-day trek to reach the starting line has given Everest Marathon the nickname of ‘The Mother of All Marathons’, and there’s ample opportunity to enjoy the frigid beauty of the surrounding Himalayan Mountains. Participants are required to arrive at least three weeks early before the race to ensure they make it to the starting line on time. It starts annually on 29 May.
Antarctic Ice Marathon
If ice and snow aren’t a deterrent, but you’re not keen on a 14-day hike to the starting line, then the Antarctic Ice Marathon is another daunting but incredible opportunity. Considered to be the final wilderness to conquer, the Antarctic Ice Marathon begins just a few kilometres outside of the South Pole. It begins at 2300 feet, but you’ll have to pay attention to the weather and terrain, since high winds with biting cold are common, and the average temperature ranges from -5 down to -10.
Participants usually finish in five to seven hours due to the weather extremes, though in 2013 one of the winners finished in an astounding 3 hours and 34 minutes, and 47 seconds.
The lack of competition make this a good choice, since there are usually less than 50 participants, though you’ll need to have some cash lying around since the entry costs $15000. This entry fee includes flights to and from Chile to Antarctica, as well as meals & tented accommodation.
The Inca Trail Marathon
While both the above marathons feature ice and snow, the Inca Trail Marathon is another one that’s incredibly difficult since it has incredible elevation gains throughout the course. Not only does it have rises of up to 10400 feet, but there are also elevation drops of around 11000 feet and it includes two high passes of around 13000 feet. The scenery however is beautiful so if you take a break to rest and enjoy mobile NZ pokies you’ll have a great view.
Other honourable mentions include the Volcano Marathon, the World Marathon Challenge and Great Wall of China Marathon.