Taking the Long Road: 5 Agonizing Endurance Races

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Racing is one of the oldest human activities. From the marathon footrace to the thrilling chariot race, we have pitted ourselves against one another, vying for that finish line, since ancient times. In the modern era, some competitors have found novel ways to take racing to a whole new level of soul-crushing difficulty. If you thought marathon runners were impressive, then how about folks who decide to tack on an additional 73 miles? If the Indy 500 is your idea of a long haul, then you need to talk to some sled dogs. Except not actually, because dogs can’t talk.

5 Iron Man Triathlon

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It might be an obvious choice, but the Iron Man Triathlon is pretty damn impressive. For the uninitiated, a triathlete is someone who thinks it’s a good idea to swim two and a half miles, then bike more than 110 miles, and then run a regular ol’ marathon of 26.2 miles. These events are held all over the globe, proving once and for all that humans are both awesome and totally irrational.

4 Race Across America

The world’s longest bicycle race is the Race Across America (RAAM). As the name suggests, this is a transcontinental competition. So that means, yeah … 3,000 miles, give or take, on a bike. That’s several hundred miles longer than the Tour de France. The current record for completion is a few hours shy of the 10-day mark.

3 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim

The Manhattan Island Marathon Swim is one of the world’s longest open water swimming events. Competitors swim more than 28 miles, completing an entire circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan. For most people, swimming 100 meters across a pool is a challenge. Even thinking about swimming 28 miles in cold, choppy water likely filled with floating debris, while pushy New Yorkers honk at you, is enough to convince us to stick to the hot tub. Oh, and also, it costs more than two grand just to sign up for this hellish event!

2 The Sahara Marathon

The Sahara Marathon is like a regular marathon, if you simply multiply it by six. And then put it in the sands of the goddamn Sahara desert. This act of insanity is held every year in Morocco. During the six-day affair runners travel more than 150 miles, with one of the days involving a stretch nearly 60 miles long. After completing the race, we can only assume most of the competitors smile, have a sip of water, and then beg for death.

1 The Last Great Race on Earth

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The Iditarod is often called “The Last Great Race on Earth.” While it loses points in the humility category, we have to hand it to those who undertake this amazing arctic challenge. The race sees teams of mushers and their faithful dogs traveling approximately 1,000 miles across the frozen wilds of Alaska, usually in about a week and a half. The temperature often drops to a bowel-clenching negative 100 degrees – not to mention the blizzards, and bears, and wolves.

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