Wed. Jan 26th, 2022


Participation in challenge opportunities has grown tremendously in recent times as people seek bigger and more difficult challenges: ultra-running now attracts 611,000 people annually to organized events, an increase of 345 percent over the past 10 years. Ironman triathlons and cycling challenges are also becoming more extreme – and are increasingly being placed in remote and spectacular locations. With that in mind, here are some really grueling races to record in your diaries …

Nevis To Saint Kitts Cross Channel Swim

Nevis To St Kitts is a 4.1 km swim

Nevis To St Kitts is a 4.1 km swim

When: March 27, 2022
Where: Nevis, Caribbean
Cost: From $ 95

Swap your diving suit for Speedos and hike in the turquoise Caribbean waters for a 4.1km swim from Nevis Island to Saint Kitts. This year will be the event’s 20th anniversary with more than 250 participants expected to cross the canal in anything from about one to three hours. Expect to bump into turtles along the way, and a rumpunch in hand at the finish line beach party. nevistostkittscrosschannelswim.com


Highland Kings

Run 120 miles in the Scottish Highlands

Run 120 miles in the Scottish Highlands

When: 25 to 29 April 2022
Where: Scottish Highlands
Cost: £ 15,499

Ultramarathon purists may be a little smarter about a “luxury” event like this. However, it offers something unique: from the moment of entry, participants (limited to just 40) receive support so that they are fully prepared at the starting line, including one-on-one coaching with ultra-running world champion Jon Albon, outstanding running clothes and a Garmin MARQ watch (only worth about £ 1,500). The linear track winds along the Highlands from Glencoe to the island of Arran, which covers 120 miles with 10,000 m uphill, and the purpose-built athletic village – which consists of luxury bell tents with single occupants with double bed and butler service, and a daily menu prepared by a Michelin-starred chef – is re-erected every day in beautiful remote locations. After crossing the finish line, prepare for a gala dinner in a castle with guest speaker Sir Ranulph Fiennes. highland-kings.com


Race to the tower

Race to the Tower participants can run two marathons over a weekend - or tackle all 84 km in one day

Race to the Tower participants can run two marathons over a weekend – or tackle all 84 km in one day

When: 25 to 26 June 2022
Where: Cotswolds, United Kingdom
Cost: From £ 125

One of the UK’s most accessible ultras, this double marathon (84km) event follows the Cotswold Way from Whiteshill to Broadway Tower over a midsummer weekend. Booking options are flexible to suit all levels of runners, but choose the “weekend-inclusive camping” package, join a few friends, and it combines the best of a full-fledged challenge with a very fun Saturday night to get everything in to take. The organizers set up an all-singing and dancing “Basecamp” for your tent, hot meals and showers are provided, and there are bars and acoustic music for a well-deserved chill. For those who fancy a tougher test, choose the uninterrupted option and do the whole distance in one go. thresholdtrailseries.com


Lewa Safari Marathon

1,500 participants run with Africa's wildlife in the Lewa Safari marathon

1,500 participants run with Africa’s wildlife in the Lewa Safari marathon

When: 25 June 2022
Where: Kenya
Cost: £ 220 (plus £ 1,750 fundraising minimum for international runners)

Organized by the African Wildlife Conservation Organization Tusk, this marathon gives its approximately 1,500 competitors the unique opportunity to run with zebras, giraffes and plains goats in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site five hours drive north of Nairobi. lewasafarimarathon.com


Otillö Swimrun Gothenburg

The Otillö Swimrun Gothenburg offers distances up to 32.5 km of running with 5.1 km of swimming over 19 islands

The Otillö Swimrun Gothenburg offers distances up to 32.5 km of running with 5.1 km of swimming over 19 islands © Mikael Josefsson

When: 6 August 2022
Where: Sweden
Cost: From SKR450 (approximately £ 44)

This beautiful race takes place on the Gothenburg southern archipelago, with competitors switching back and forth from land to sea. There are three distances, the smallest was 7.5 km of running alternating with five swimming sections of a total of 790 m, all the way to the World Series with 32.5 km of running and 5.1 km of swimming across 19 different islands. Enter solo or as a team of two. ttilloswimrun.com


Haute Route Alpe

The Haute Trail offers amateur riders a pro-level cycling experience

The Haute Trail offers amateur riders a pro-level cycling experience

When: 21 to 27 August 2022
Where: The Alps, France
Cost: From € 1,899

Haute Route’s three-, five- and seven-day road cycling events are an opportunity to ride some of Europe’s legendary climbs in a pro-level experience. The Alpine edition is the jewel in the crown – think of the amateur equivalent of the Tour de France. Everything is taken care of for you: from professional mechanics to nocturnal information sessions, which make you focus on what is a significant challenge: a seven-day ride from Nice to Megève, which adds up to 792 km and 21,300 m of altitude in the process. hauteroute.org


Chasing Cancellara Zurich – Zermatt

Chasing Cancellara Zurich: 280 km with 6,500 m climb

Chasing Cancellara Zurich: 280 km with 6,500 m climb

When: 26 August 2022
Where: Switzerland
Cost: From SFR290 (approximately £ 237)

One of the toughest one-day Ultra Fondo challenges out there, this time-tested format road bike covers 280km with 6,500m climbs, including the infamous Grimsel Pass – a 26km climb that increases 2,164m altitude. The event has a wide appeal and the 700-strong field of riders is one of mixed abilities and ages – the oldest rider last year was 72. Starts in Zurich at 01:15 and arrives in the ski resort Zermatt anything from 10 to 18 hours later. New this year is the “lucky trio” category for teams of three that can make things more enjoyable. chasingcancellara.com


Ultra X Mexico

The Ultra X in Mexico is its most grueling, with 12,000 m elevation gain

The Ultra X in Mexico is its most grueling, with 12,000 m elevation gain

When: 5 to 12 Nov 2022
Where: Sierra Madre Mountains, Mexico
Cost: From £ 995

Affordable, well managed and located in beautiful locations around the world, Ultra X offers short, two-day, 125km events, as well as 250km events over five days in remote corners of the world. The Mexico edition – which was traversed in the Copper Canyons of the Sierra Madre Mountains – is undoubtedly the most grueling, largely up to the technical terrain underfoot and 12,000 m elevation gain, all at an altitude of more than 2 000 m above sea level. The organizers carry overnight bags between camps (allowing you to carry only what you need for the day), and sports massage-trained osteopaths provide respite at the end of each phase. ultra-x.co


Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra

Europe's longest uninterrupted winter ultra - on foot, bike or ski

Europe’s longest uninterrupted winter ultra – on foot, bike or ski © Swedish Lapland

When: February / March 2023 (TBC)
Where: Swedish Lapland
Cost: From € 1,350

Registration for this event is 2023, but it’s one to have on your radar well in advance to give you time to prepare – why not follow this year’s race (starting March 6) to help you make a decision . Organized by the same company that Yukon Arctic Ultra – the coldest and toughest ultra in the world – this is Europe’s longest uninterrupted winter ultra, which passes through the beautiful wilderness of Swedish Lapland. About 50 athletes from 15 countries – from beginner to pro – will complete either 185 km over a four-day ultra, or 500 km over 10 days via their chosen discipline: foot, fat bike or cross-country skiing. lapland.arcticultra.de


Parkrun

Parkrun, every Saturday morning around the world

Parkrun, every Saturday morning around the world

When: Weekly, Saturday mornings
Where: Worldwide
Cost: Free

Not many event organizers are proud of an average end time that slows down each year, but for Parkrun – a free, weekly, community-organized 5km walking and running event – it’s all about inclusion and accessibility, so whether you walk, jog or run you will be in good company. It is extremely popular: every Saturday morning, more than 200,000 people gather at 2,200 locations in 23 countries to participate. It’s worth noting that all participants are determined on time and results are published, so if you’re competitive – and there are many park runners that are – you can track your progress week after week. parkrun.org.uk


Atlantic Campaigs Pacific Challenge

2023 sees the first race for 20 teams over 2,800 miles of the Pacific

2023 sees the first race for 20 teams over 2,800 miles from the Pacific Ocean © pennybirdandcamera

When: 12 June 2023
Where: California to Hawaii
Cost: € 20,500 entrance fee plus € 1,000 per bike

Monterey Bay, California, to Nawiliwili Harbor, Hawaii – it’s not getting much more evocative than that. This first event (presented annually) will see up to 20 teams rowing the 2,800-mile stretch of the Mid-Pacific. Only 80 people successfully rowed from Hawaii to the American continent, averaging 62 days (48 days for teams of four). It is run by the same highly experienced company as the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, which is now presented annually with up to 30 teams participating. There is already a lot of interest from other pirate alumni for this new race, so it’s best to book now. @atlantic campaigns; carsten@atlanticcampaigns.com





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