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Published on March 6th, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson

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National Geographic: Ten great races around the world

No, this isn’t some sort of right wing grading of various gene pools but much more happily a look at just how you can combine travel, sport and winning medals. The National Geographic has put together a list of 10 ways you can combine the excitement of adventure sport with that of discovering new places, to inspire us all on to bigger and better things. So, if you’ve got that burning yearning to put yourself through sustained extreme discomfort and feel you need to move on from the Hastings half Marathon then read on…

1.      The Patagonian Expedition Race:

Known as Last Wild Race, some see it as the pinnacle of adventure racing, as twenty teams compete over 10 days for the winner’s title. Disciplines include kayaking, orienteering, mountain biking and trekking. There’s no prize money just the glory and usually fewer than half finish.

Ten Great Races1

2.    Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon:

more of a party than 26.2 miles of agony, the key here is to take the runners’ minds off what they’re ding so that before they know it the end is in sight. And with over 30 live bands, tigers, lasers and showgirls they do a pretty good job of it, some even find the time to get hitched en route.

3.    Tough Mudder, Sydney, Australia:

Designed by British Special Forces personnel, this sets itself out to be another welcome antidote to the bog standard marathon. The courses are around 12 miles long and will have you swimming through ice baths, swinging on buttered monkey bars and running through fields of live wires. In fancy dress.

4.    Quiksilver Waterman’s Hoe, Hawai:

Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the newest adventure sports on the scene but that won’t stop around 1000 people competing in this event. It’s so new in fact that it means rookies can paddle beside world champions, whilst families can get stuck in on other specially designed courses at the same time. 

5.    Jungfrau Marathon, Switzerland:

This one is a bit bonkers and very popular -  a marathon which is predominantly uphill. Racers start in the town of Interlaken and then make their way through villages towards the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. In the last 10 miles alone the route climbs 5000 metres. There are a variety of different races that can be run over the weekend with some particularly disturbed people choosing to run the ‘big one’ twice.

6.    The American Birkebeiner:

not just a ski race but according to those in the know, a cultural phenomenon. It’s where 15000 skiers travel to the hamlet of Hayward in Wisconsin and immerse themselves in all things skiing. The big events are the 50km ski/skate race and the 54km cross country ski race which attracts up to 6000 competitors. There are lots of other competitions including a 6 man team race with 24 foot long skis.

Ten Great Races3

7.    Race2Adventure, Guatemala:

An eight day competition with a bit of a difference. Each morning there are trails to be completed for prizes but after that it all changes with rafting, swimming, cliff jumping, lounging and cocktail drinking the order of the day. By the finish line winning and losing is completely forgotten.

8.    Mont Tremblant Ironman, Quebec, Canada:

One of the newest hosts of the half Ironman race series where you’ll be required to swim 1.2 miles in Lake Tremblant, ride 56 miles through the forests end then run 13.1 miles through the stunning scenery. Once you’ve got that out of the way racers can look forward to some serious postrace partying, French Canadian style.

9.    Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Colorado:

Born in the 1970’s after a bet between cyclist Tom Mayer and his brother a train worker, the aim of this race is to beat the train to Silverton. Tom was the first person to manage it and now it’s turned into a full weekend of racing and parades. However, the main race is very much a serious event with over 2500 competitors taking on the 50 mile course and its 6650 feet of climb.

Ten Great Races4

10.  Dipsea Race, California:

Beginning its life in 1905, this is the oldest trail running race in America and with only 1,500 bibs available each year securing one is a major achievement. Race organizers thoroughly encourage bribery to get entry to the race with all the bribes going to trail maintenance. The 7.4 mile course has some amazing views which is a major part of its appeal as well as the handicap system that can make champions out of children and pensioners.

For the full article and more information go to:

National Geographic

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About the Author

Adrian Simpson

Adrian Simpson is a writer and TV presenter with a profound love of the outdoors. His family, snow, sea, brewing, vinyl, guitars and VW buses mean the world to him.



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