The World’s Most Gruelling Runs

The World’s Most Gruelling Runs

Image|Unsplash If you thought a standard marathon was the biggest test of endurance then think again


When it comes to competitive running, you might be fooled into thinking that a marathon is as much of a challenge as it could possibly get. After all, 26.2 miles of physical exertion is pretty gruelling, isn’t it? Whilst nobody is denying that completing a marathon is an enormous achievement, there are some people out there for whom a marathon isn’t enough of a challenge. Introducing, the super marathon. These marathons might take place over a longer period of time, over a type of terrain that’s incredibly challenging, or any number of other things to make them into even more of a test than the standard marathon format. We’ve listed here for you some of the races that make road marathons look like child’s play.

The Inca Trail Marathon

The Inca Trail Marathon is the standard length of 26.2 miles, but it is still widely accepted as one of the most gruelling marathons that it’s possible to take part in. This is owing to the immense altitude that it is run at, around 11,000 feet. At this kind of height, people can suffer from pretty severe altitude sickness, making the course even more challenging. This year it takes place on the 7th of July and runners are given from 4:15 am until 5:15 pm to complete the testing track. Each year around forty runners take part and often people will bet on the outcome of the race. There are only a select few sites that offer the option to bet on marathon running, so it’s worth researching the best online betting sites in advance of the event that you plan to bet on. have compiled a useful list of betting sites that details not only what offers are available, but also the level of customer support that each site offers, along with whether it’s possible to bet on mobile or not.

Marathon des Sables

Image|Unsplash, <<< Photo, Caption: Imagine running through the Sahara Desert

When it comes to the most backbreaking of the World’s Marathons, the Marathon des Sables is some real punishment for the body. This marathon is not only run over a frankly horrifying distance of 156 miles but it’s also run across the Sahara Desert. If you’re a sucker for punishment, then this is the only marathon to run. The temperatures can get up to 50°C and as anyone who’s ever tried running on sand will know, it isn’t easy. The sinking action of your feet drains your energy much more quickly than running on firm terrain. Plus, you’re expected to carry all of your supplies on your back and you’re going to need a lot of water.  The race is run over 6 consecutive days, with the fourth day being the biggest challenge. On this day you’ll set out into the very early morning sun and cover 52 miles in one relentless stage, finishing as darkness begins. Amazingly, 1000 people run this marathon every single year and that’s after they’ve narrowed down the list of applicants.

The Dragon’s Back

When you consider the harsh conditions of the Sahara Desert, a race in the Welsh countryside seems like it ought to be a walk in the park, but it is far from it. The Dragon’s Back is one of the top running events in the UK and without a doubt the most difficult. It covers a total distance of 236 miles and runners will have to scale an elevation of around 57,000 feet. To put that into perspective, Mount Everest clocks in at 29,000 feet. As well as being a huge test in endurance, this race also takes in some very difficult terrain. Some of the race is on well-trodden track, but some take place over totally wild and rocky mountaintops, where runners have to be incredibly surefooted, climbing over loose rubble and craggy hills. The marathon takes place over seven gruelling days and each year around 400 people compete. In 2021, there were 418 competitors and of those only 90 finished the full race, showing just how much fitness, determination and willpower these competitors had. Simon Roberts was last year’s winner, with an incredible time of just over 45 hours. His victory was made even sweeter by being a proud Welshman himself, a fitting winner to conquer this incredibly tough Welsh mountain race.