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10 Absolutely Grueling Fitness Competitions for the Ultimate Challenge

by Jeremy Sage

10 Absolutely Grueling Fitness Competitions for the Ultimate Challenge

For all you fitness masochists out there, we have compiled a list of 10 of the most grueling, death defying and absolutely insane endurance competitions on the planet. Check these out, and if you think you have what it takes, or you are looking for a way to go out in style, go ahead… sign-up!

1. The Ultimate Suck

Created by Joe Decker, a two-time Spartan Death Race Winner, The Ultimate Suck is a 36-hour obstacle race held on his farm in Cuba, Illinois. In race “challenges combine farm chores with military boot camp, trail running and survival skills. Knowing how to fire a shotgun, bale hay and dig holes is recommended.[i]” Joe describes The Ultimate Suck as “Conan the Barbarian meets Full Metal Jacket with a dash of Deliverance.[ii]” If you are considering registering their site recommends going to a pig or calf scramble at a local fair and becoming familiar with the effects of pepper spray for preparation. There is also a laundry list of required gear you’ll need to bring including an axe or maul, life jacket, and a box of 12-gauge shotgun shells. To learn more about The Ultimate Suck, check out

2. Plain 100

The Plain 100 is just plain tough. In Washington State’s Cascades, 35 runners a year face-off with 100 unsupported miles of mountainous terrain. “Plain and simple; it’s you and you alone against the course.[iii]” Expect no aid stations, pacers, or course markers and “runners who drop out have to figure out how to get back to civilization on their own.[iv]” To learn more or throw your hat in the ring for consideration check out

3. Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

If History Channel’s Vikings wasn’t enough to convince you that Scandinavians are tough, how about this race. The Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon boasts arguably the toughest swim leg of any Triathlon in the world. Competitors begin the race jumping 12 feet off a ferry into a fjord that averages 57 degrees on race day. After their grueling 2.4 mile swim in the icy waters, those who make it out are congratulated with another 138 miles on bike and foot to a finish line at the peak of a mountain. If you think you have some of Odin’s blood flowing through your veins check out to learn more.[v]

4. Jungle Marathon

Feeling adventurous? How about running your next 26.2 miles through the heart of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil? Runners are challenged “with swamp and river crossings, temperatures averaging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 99 percent humidity, and dangerous wildlife.[vi]” Voted by CNN as “The World’s Toughest Endurance Race,” the Jungle Marathon is only for those in peak physical condition with extreme mental tenacity. If a “normal” marathon just does not do it for you anymore and you are ready for a new kind of challenge check it out at Hopefully you are not afraid of snakes, tarantulas, crocodiles, jaguars, piranhas, poisons plants, etc…

5. Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard Race

Stand-up Paddleboarding is a top attraction amongst tourists to Hawai’i. Once you are able to find your balance and get the hang of paddling, it can also be a great workout. Now imagine standing on your feet, paddling across 32 miles of open water from one island to another. Participates paddle across the Ka’iwi Channel which affectionately translates to… The Channel of Bones. True to its name, this channel is known as one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world due to foul weather and massive open ocean swells pushing through the narrow canyon formed between the islands. This channel is also responsible for the “tragic loss of Hawaiian big-wave rider and waterman Eddie Aikau.[vii]” You know it is a serious race when the course info on the website gives the start and finish locations in coordinates. To sign-up or learn more about the Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard Race check out Oh, and if you wanted to map out the course…

Start: 21N 11′ 24.7704′ – 157W 14′ 57.516

Finish: 21N 16′ 54.5118′ – 157W 42′ 50.8716′

6. Badwater 135

Coined “the world’s toughest foot race” the Badwater 135 is a non-stop ultramarathon starting at Badwater Basin, Death Valley and ending Whitney Portal, the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney Summit. The race literally goes from the lowest elevation in North America at 280 feet below sea-level to the trailhead of the highest point in the contiguous United States at 8,300 feet. Each year, 100 runners are selected based on application and merit to participate in the 135 mile race. So, unless you’ve got several 100+ mile races under your belt, good luck getting in. Speaking of belts, those who complete the 135 miles within the 48-hour time limit are awarded with an official Badwater 135 belt buckle. In their words, “the Holy Grail of endurance sports.[viii]” I’m not joking, check it out here

7. 6633 Arctic Ultra

Most people will never visit the Arctic Circle in their lifetime, but a brave few will race 350 miles on foot across the frozen tundra. 6633 Arctic Ultra participants “drag their gear on sleds while they trek across the rugged mountainous terrain between the Yukon and Northwest Territories where temperatures hover around 25 below zero and the potential for strong Katabatic winds is high.[ix]” To successfully complete the race, participants must finish within 191 hours (8 days). “Due to extreme conditions, only 11 people have finished in the 6633 Arctic Ultra’s seven-year history.[x]” Learn more about the Arctic Ultra at Maybe you can be number 12!

8. The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons is the most bizarre endurance race you will find, period. Inspired by a famous prison escape the 100-mile unsupported race takes place in the Tennessee backcountry. “Forty runners must cover a grueling 65,000 feet of vertical incline over the course’s five unmarked 20-mile loops. To make things more interesting, racers must stay within the 60-hour time limit to be considered an official finisher.[xi]” Dates for the Barkley are never posted so you will have to do your research if you are interested in registering. Their website states the application fee is $1.60 (non-refundable) and if you are selected you must bring a license plate from your home state or country and a pair of gold-toe dress socks (dark blue or black). Rumor has it that those who are chosen receive a letter of condolences regretting to inform them that they have been selected to run the Barkley Marathons.[xii] If you’re interested in learning more about this race check out There is also a documentary online titled The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats It Young. Enjoy!

9. Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race

If you are up for a 3100 mile race coupled with a side of psychological torture, check out the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. “Called 'The Mount Everest of ultramarathons' by The New York Times, this is the longest certified footrace in the world.[xiii]” Runners begin at 6 am and have till 12 midnight to log miles… for 52 days in a row. Breaks can be taken as needed but in order reach the goal of 3100 miles, runners must average 59.6 miles a day. Also, don’t expect any breath-taking views along the way, the course is 5,649 laps around a single unassuming city block in Queens, New York. Courage, stamina, concentration, pain-tolerance, and the ability to endure endless fatigue, boredom, and monotony are required to complete this race. Learn more at

10. Marathon Des Sables

Discovery Channel’s vote as the as the toughest race on earth, the Marathon Des Sables is a 7-day ultra-marathon through the blistering hot Sahara Desert. Similar to some of these other hellish races, you have to be self-sufficient and carry all your own food and equipment on your back. The race course changes each year and spans over 156 miles, but what’s exciting is the actual course is not shared with participants until just before the race begins. Competitors run through endless “sand dunes, over rocky jebels, and across white-hot salt plains.[xiv]” All this while the scorching sun sucks their life away with temperatures regularly topping 122 Fahrenheit. This race is no joke, their website literally warns of the dreams and hallucinations you can expect to have while enduring this massive level of mental and physical stress. What may be most shocking is they regularly have 900+ participants. Up for the challenge? Check out



[i] Williams, Pete. “The Ultimate Suck.”, 7 Sept. 2016,

[ii] Decker, Joe. “Event.” The Ultimate SUCK,

[iii] Stroh, Tim, and Tim Dehnhoff. “PER - Plain 100 Endurance Runs.” PER - Plain 100 Endurance Runs,

[iv] Callaghan, Anna. “The 13 Toughest Races in the World.” Outside Online, 27 June 2017,

[v] “Ready for August 4th The Athletes Jumping off the Ferry Can Be Found Here:” Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon,

[vi] “Jungle Marathon.” World's Marathons,

[vii] “Ka'iwi Channel.” Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships, 

[viii] “Badwater 135.” Badwater,

[ix] Callaghan, Anna. “The 13 Toughest Races in the World.” Outside Online, 27 June 2017,

[x] “HAVE YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES? ENTER NOW....” 6633 Arctic Ultra,

[xi] Callaghan, Anna. “The 13 Toughest Races in the World.” Outside Online, 27 June 2017,

[xii] “Entry Info.” The Barkley Marathons, 8 Apr. 2016,

[xiii] “The Twenty-Second Annual Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.” 3100 Mile Race,

[xiv] “What To Expect.” Marathon Des Sables,

Jeremy Sage
Jeremy Sage

Jeremy Sage holds a Masters of Business Administration as well as a bachelors degree in Economics. Jeremy obtained his Series 7 license administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and holds certifications in financial consulting, technology and Microsoft platforms.

In addition to Jeremy's professional status, he is also a former NCAA Division 1 athlete. Due to his scholastic ability Jeremy became a Top Scholar Athlete and was awarded a full ride scholarship from the University of Hawai'i.

Disclaimer: The information, suggestions, and techniques offered in this blog are the result of the author’s experiences and are not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions or concerns, seek the advice of a financial consultant, physician or other qualified professional before practicing the techniques presented here.

In fact, you should always consult a qualified healthcare professional before beginning a new nutritional or exercise program. If you fail to do so, it is the same as self-prescribing, and neither the author nor RAM Advantage assumes responsibility. *This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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