World's Toughest Endurance Challenges

From the Badwater Ultra-marathon in Death Valley, Calif., to the frigid South Pole Race in Antarctica, a new book from VeloPress, “The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges,” profiles the most extreme events in the U.S. and to far points across the world.

La Ruta De Los  Conquistadores.jpg

One of the toughest: La Ruta De Los Conquistadores

Authors Richard Hoad and Paul Moore culled this bucket list from interviews and research with top endurance athletes. New this fall, the 208-page book is full color and costs $29.95 at

In all, 50 events are profiled. They include a few that members of our staff at GearJunkie have had the privilege (and severe pain!) of participating in, including the Patagonian Expedition Race, the Arrowhead 135, and the Adventure Racing World Series.

world toughest endurance challenges.jpg

A bible to extreme pain or ultimate glory?

The full list is below. What races have you done? Which are on your list, and what’s missing from the chosen events?

Comment on this article, and also buy this book if you have plans or want to motivate yourself to a serious challenge somewhere far-flung and epic around the globe.

“The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges”

Adventure Races and Triathlons
Norseman | Enduroman Arch to Arc | Ultraman World Championships | The Red Bull X-Alps | Coast to Coast New Zealand | Patagonian Expedition Race | Ö Till Ö | Adventure Racing World Series

Bike Races
Race Across America | Furnace Creek 508 | La Ruta de Los Conquistadores | La Haute Route | Race Around Ireland | Iron Bike | Cape Epic | Tour d’Afrique | Yak Attack | Crocodile Trophy


Iron Bike

Winter Sports
Arrowhead 135 | Iditarod | Yukon Arctic Ultra | Yukon Quest | 6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon | The Extreme World Races South Pole Race

Trans Europe Footrace | Al Andalus Ultimate Trail Race | The Mountainman | Spartathlon | Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon | Comrades Marathon | 4 Deserts | Great Wall Marathon | Leadville 100 | Western States 100 | 24-Hour Track Race | Badwater Ultramarathon | Self Transcendance 3100 Mile Race | Jungle Marathon | Marathon des Sables


Pull your own weight: Yukon Arctic Ultra

English Channel Swim | Cadiz Freedom Swim | Catalina Channel Swim | Manhattan Island Marathon Swim | Freediving | Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race | Dusi Canoe Marathon | Woodvale Challenge | Volvo Ocean Race | Vendée Globe | Tevis Cup Ride


Vendée Globe Race

—This article excerpts from “The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges” by Richard Hoad and Paul Moore, available at


Are you tough enough? Not even snot-cicles stop this man in the Yukon Arctic Ultra

Posted by Mike Barnett - 12/03/2012 09:46 AM

Try the <a href=“”>Florida Ultimate Challenge</a> a 1000 mile race circumnavigating Florida… in kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats. Me? I stick to the Everglades Challenge, 300 miles or so from Clearwater to Key Largo (it’s the first leg of the Ultimate, and plenty tough enough!)

Posted by SR - 12/03/2012 10:05 AM

Ironman? Why is this not on the list.

Posted by Todd Sertop - 12/03/2012 11:21 AM

hah, an Ironman – that’s funny ;)

Posted by MT - 12/04/2012 04:47 AM

hahahahaha – Ironman… You made my day!

Posted by Jason - 12/04/2012 05:00 AM

Posted by Rob - 12/10/2012 11:01 AM

Mongol Derby

Longest horse race in the world. 1000km on wild horses… Half the course will not finish.

Posted by Michael - 12/10/2012 11:36 AM

Ironman. Uh, okay.

Maybe try Trans Iowa

Posted by Rhino - 01/11/2013 04:40 PM

Cool to see the Arrowhead 135 on there. Any of these though are like getting a tattoo on your face… takes commitment, or is that you should be committed? either i guess.

Posted by J-Cool - 01/11/2013 08:20 PM

The guy says “Where’s Ironman?” and rather than answering his question, you idiots start with the snide remarks. In reality, dolts, the Ultraman World Championships listed above are held in Kona, HI (whaddya know, the same place as the Ironman World Championships) and basically consists of two Ironmans split up over three days. So, I don’t think the guy’s question is all that far off. But, you guys are so above a question like that. Morons.

Posted by Peter Fletcher - 01/28/2013 08:42 AM

Or maybe if you actually took the time to read the list properly you would see the inclusion of the Norseman – a standard distance ironman (140.6), held in Norway – the first event listed!!!
… Good work idiots!

Posted by Andy Benkert - 02/25/2013 12:42 PM

Wait, they include Comrades, but don’t have The Barkley Marathons??? There are numerous 50 or so mile races much more difficult than Comrades, and that is only about half the distance of Barkley. Poor research.

Posted by Emil - 04/30/2013 11:23 AM

I agree and would definitely include the Barkley on this list. Western States and Leadville should be removed and replaced with the more difficult Hardrock 100 and UTMB or UTMF.

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