Skip to main Content

Nine 'toughest races in the world' include two unexpected Alaskan classics

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: July 6, 2016
  • Published October 25, 2012

Adventure Journal has compiled a list of nine of the world's "toughest races" including two held here in Alaska, but probably not the two you're thinking of.

According to Adventure Journal, "if you build something painful, they will come." And so it goes that in the 21st century the agony of adventure racing, where the creme de la creme battle for glowing titles and often their own lives, has taken much of the world by storm resulting in some of the most remarkable feats of humanity.

Alaska's contribution? Not the Idtarod Sled dog race or the Alaska Wilderness Classic, but instead:

  • The 6633 Extreme Winter Ultramarthon: A 350-mile footrace where racers carry or drag their own supplies through the frozen Arctic Circle. The race begins at a remote outpost off the Klondike Highway in Alaska and goes north through the Arctic Circle, finishing in the small Northwest Territories, Canada community of Tuktoyaktuk.
  • The Iditarod Trail Invitational: A mixed race that travels 350 miles of the Iditarod National Historic Trail in February. Snow cyclists, skiers and snowshoers compete against each other and must finish their journey in a week or less.
  • Adventure Journal rounds out the "toughest" list with:

    1. The Tour Divide/ Great Divide Race: the world's largest unsupported off-road cycling race spans the western and southwestern United States from Roosville, Montana to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

    2. Furnace Creek 508: A 508 mile road cycling race that covers some 36,000 feet of elevation gain, roughly four consecutive mountain states of the Tour de France, through the desert of California. Competitors must be invited and finish within 48 hours.

    3. Deca Ironman: This year's Deca will take place in Italy. The race is summed up as 30 Ironman-distance triathlons in 30 days.

    4. The Barkley 100: The Barkely is a marathon ... of sorts. The 60 mile trial run tramps through 100 miles of the Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee with one Mount Everest equivalent (54,200 feet) elevation gain.

    5. Texas Water Safari: An unsupported 100 hour canoeing race of 260 river miles, beginning in San Marcos, Texas and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

    6. Vendee Globe: Is a solo unsupported around-the-world sailing race that takes place every four years from November to February.

    7. Self-Transcendence 3100: Uh, that's a name, right? Transcendence is considered the world's hardest running race because it's made up of 5,649 laps covering just one city block in Queens, New York. The race is run over a 52-day period, with athletes covering about 60 miles a day.

    For more newsletters click here

    Local news matters.

    Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.