Toughest Ultra Marathons in the World

To some runners, simply completing a marathon or an ultra is enough to last them for a while before they’ll decide to run in another one. But for others, they are continuously wanting to push their bodies to the limit. For runners who may fall into this category, here are some of the toughest ultra marathons in the world.

1) Grand To Grand Ultra


Grand to Grand Ultra. Photo:

Taking place in the Grand Canyon, this tough seven-day self supported running race requires runners to complete a total distance of 147 miles (236km) and the elevation reaches a maximum of 19,000 feet. The run is challenging, but the scenery is beautiful and breathtaking – to help you to take your mind off your painful run.

2) The Jungle Ultra

This race, which takes place in Peru, is not to be underestimated. Though the route may be primarily downhill, it brings you through extremely remote jungle terrain with temperatures of more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And there are plenty of nasty bugs out to attack you, as well as rivers and streams that you must wade into and get muddy along the way too – these may pose an obstacle to runners.

In total, the race route is 142.6 miles (229km), to be completed in five days, and the elevation drop is 10,500 feet.

3) Badwater UltraMarathon

Badwater UltraMarathon. Photo:

Badwater UltraMarathon.

One of the most famously challenging ultras that ultra runners would aspire to complete, this ultra is a 135-mile (217km) non-stop race that takes you through Death Valley – during the hottest time of the year – that is in July. The race route begins at Badwater Basin and finishes at Mount Whitney. The elevation is 13,000 feet.

4) Hardrock 100

This 100-mile (160km) race, held at San Juans – which is located near Silverton in Colorado, comprises of 33,992 feet of elevation and descent, and many runners may get altitude sickness and headaches along the way. Moreover, runners must also grapple with below-freezing temperatures during the night time as well as lightning and freak storms – if they are unlucky.

5) Spartathlon

Spartathlon finishing point in front of statue of King Leonidas. Photo:

Spartathlon finishing point in front of statue of King Leonidas.

Taking runners through the exact 153-mile (246km) route from Athens to Sparta that Greek messenger Pheidippides originally ran in 490BC, this is a race with a different type of challenge. While the terrain may seem relatively easy in comparison to many of the trail and jungle ultras – and with the scenic Greek countryside to take your mind off the running – a challenging aspect is that the runners must complete the full course within a short 36 hours.

Moreover, there are 75 check points with strict cut off timings along the way – and if a runner fails to meet the cut off timing for one check point, he or she is immediately out of the race. So this means that there are no second chances, and it is vital to maintain a good pace throughout the run – even when you are grappling with exhaustion.

6) 6693 Ultra

This is an insanely tough winter endurance ultra that takes place in the Yukon area in Canada. Along the way, runners face constant sub-zero temperatures and hurricane-strength winds, as well as a seemingly endless amount of frozen plains. The total distance is 352.64 miles (566km) – and the statistics do not lie about the difficulty of this race – in fact, there have only been 11 finishers throughout the seven years of organising this event. So enter this race – at your own peril.

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