10 Ultra Marathon Running Events That Have the Most Extreme Conditions in the World

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
November 15, 2021

Ultra marathon running events are just a sign that we human beings are really built to go beyond ourselves.

If this was a philosophy class, we would be saying that because man is finite, he is constantly trying to reach the infinite.

If this was an extreme fitness class, we would be saying that if a man can finish a marathon, then he can finish an ultra marathon running race.

It seems that we are just constantly trying to see how far we can go.

This can be seen in how people have gone from running your standard marathons to doing an ultra-marathon running race that consists of hundreds of miles in extreme conditions.

Endurance events like triathlons, adventure races, and ultra-marathon running races have become so popular with athletes and even with non-regular athletes.

You can’t really pinpoint when it started happening, but endurance events are here to stay and they continue to challenge the limits of every competitor.

Popular among endurance events are the different kinds of ultra-marathon running races.

There are races across deserts, cold winter areas, and even across jungles.

Running through these different types of terrains is certainly not easy and requires a whole lot of endurance on the part of the competitor.

Getting ready for an ultra marathon running event

Training for these ultra-marathon running events definitely takes a lot of time and effort and discipline.

Most athletes who are training for such events train every single day several months before the actual ultra marathon running event.

Many athletes also do cross-training to really prepare.

Some extreme ultra-marathon running events can include crossing streams or climbing mountain trails so it helps to really build up strength and stamina before the race.

Like most training regimens, it also involves eating a healthy diet.

Endurance athletes have to prepare their bodies for the grueling experience that they will go through during an ultra marathon running event.

To give you an idea of these ultra-marathon running events, I have here a rundown of ten ultra-marathon running events that have some of the most extreme conditions in the world.

You’ll be amazed at the kinds of races that people have thought of AND participated in!

10 Ultra Marathon Running Events That Have the Most Extreme Conditions in the World

Most of these races only involve running, but some of these races can include going up mountain trails and crossing streams.

One thing these ultra marathon running races have in common is that they are tough and CRAZY!

10. Namibian Ultra Marathon Running Event

This ultra marathon running race is a 24-hour race covering 78 miles or 126km across the Namib Desert.

Temperatures are expected to be in the region of min 5ºc / max 36 ºc but could be more extreme.

Participants of this ultra marathon running race will have to carry all they need for the race in their packs.

There are medical tents and water stations at every 21km of the race.

9. The Pinhoti 100

The Pinhoti 100 is a trail run that starts in Heflin, Alabama on the Pinhoti single-track trail.

Participants of this ultra marathon running race will have to make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating through the Talladega National Forest.

The course consists of 80.62 miles of single-track trail, 16.98 miles of jeep road and 4.52 miles of pavement.

The race finishes on the rubberized track in the Sylacauga High School Football Stadium.

8. Arrowhead Winter Ultramarathon

The Arrowhead Winter Ultramarathon covers 135 miles deep winter across Northern Minnesota.

This race occurs on a very rugged and scenic Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail from I-Falls to Tower, MN Fortune Bay Casino.

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Participants can choose their mode of transport at the start.

They can bike, ski, or run on foot.

7. Badwater Ultramarathon

This ultra marathon running race is a non-stop race that covers 135 miles (217km) from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California.

Temperatures during this race can go up to 130F (55c).

It is considered the most demanding and extreme ultra marathon running race offered anywhere in the world.

Only about 90 runners are allowed in this race.

Some of the world’s toughest triathletes, runners, mountaineers, and adventure racers join this ultra marathon running race.

6. The Jungle Ultra

This ultra marathon running race consists of about 143 miles (230 km) of rough jungle trails, village tracks, and mountain roads in the jungles of Peru.

Participants of this race will need to carry with them all they need for the race.

Equipment and supplies such as food, hammock, and other supplies will have to be carried during the entire race.

Participants are allowed to replenish a minimum of three liters of water along the route at checkpoints and designated base camps.

5. Al Andalus Ultimate Trail

The Al Andalus Ultimate Trail is a race covering about 143 miles or 230 km in five days in Poniente de Granada in Andalucia, Spain.

The course is tough and the temperatures during the race can go up.

The trail of this ultra marathon running race also has its ups and downs, literally, so this race is definitely an extreme workout for the participants.

4. Marathon des Sables

The Marathon des Sables is a six-day 151-mile endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

This ultra marathon running race usually takes place around the end of March and the beginning of April.

Runners have to carry everything they need for the duration of the race in their backpacks.

They will need to pack clothes, food, a sleeping bag, a medical kit, and other essentials. Water is rationed and given out at every checkpoint.

3. Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon covers around 155 miles (250 km) in seven days.

This ultra marathon running race takes place in the Kalahari Desert near the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River.

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Temperatures during the day can go up to 40 °C and drop to below 5 °C at night.

This race is popularly known as the “Big Daddy” in South African running circles.

Participants of this ultra marathon running event are provided with water, medical assistance, overnight camps, sports physios, and checkpoints at every 8 to 10 km.

2. The 6633 Ultra

The 6633 Ultra is another non-stop ultra marathon running race from Eagle Plains, Yukon to the banks of the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk.

There are two race distances – 350 miles or 120 miles.

Both races cross the line of the Arctic Circle.

The 350-mile race continues to the banks of the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk.

Participants of this ultra marathon running will have to carry or pull on sleds all that they need for the race.

This includes clothing, food, items for cooking, sleeping kit, safety gear, etc.

1. The 4 Deserts

This ultra marathon running race is considered the world’s leading rough-country endurance running race series.

The 4 Deserts is a series of events taking place over 7 days and 250 kilometres in some of the largest and toughest deserts on earth.

Participants in these ultra marathon running races have to carry all that they need during the race.

They are only given water and space in a tent every night to rest. All other things like food, clothing, and equipment have to be carried while they race.

The 4 Deserts series includes racing in Chile’s Atacama Desert, China’s Gobi Desert, and the Sahara Desert in Egypt and Antarctica.

Participants can join this desert ultra marathon running race in any order, except for The Last Desert in Antarctica.

This last race requires an invitation, which one can only receive once they have completed at least two of the other desert races.

There is no doubt that these ultra marathon running races are some of the toughest in world!

And they cover all sorts of environments, too. You have races that battle the heat, the cold, even the jungles.

Anyone who participates in any of these incredible races is definitely extreme.

What do you think about these ultra marathon running events?

Tell us in a comment below!

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Show/Hide Comments (2 comments)
  1. Speedgoatkarl

    you might also consider the Hardrock 100? Or the HURT 100, or UTMB 169k? the Pinhoti 100 is a great race, but easy as far as 100 mile races go. 🙂

    Great list though, I like it!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Ah yes, the Hardrock 100. I have read about that one. Truly a doozy. Haven’t heard of the UTMB 169k. Will have to check that one out. Thanks for the comment Kari!

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