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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The List: The World’s 9 Toughest Races [Adventure Journal]

If you build something painful, they will come. In the 21st century, it seems the only thing we like better than self-flagellating activities is self-flagellating activities with other folks, competing to see who can, in the words of Dean Karnazes, “survive the fastest.” Fortunately, we have all kinds of outlets when it comes to human-powered suffering over long distances. Here are our picks for the toughest of the tough.
1. Mountain Biking: Tour Divide/Great Divide Race
The world’s longest unsupported off-road cycling race began as the Great Divide Race in 2004, when four racers finished time-trialing the U.S. portion of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Roosville, Montana, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, in less than 30 days. In following years, a handful of racers gathered to compete, and in 2008, an additional section of the route was added to the course, starting in Banff, and the race lived on as Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile string of jeep roads, singletrack, and pavement. Most riders start en masse in Banff the second week of June, and half will finish. In 2012, New Zealand cyclist Ollie Whalley sets a course record with a time of 16 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes. Or almost 170 miles per day. 170 miles a day. LINK
2. Road Cycling: Furnace Creek 508
For most mortals, mashing out 508 miles and 36,000 feet of elevation gain would be a good week on a bicycle — it’s roughly four mountain stages of the Tour de France ridden consecutively. Competitors in the Furnace Creek 508 have 48 hours to finish all that, over 10 mountain passes in the California desert. Drafting is not allowed. IV fluids are not permitted. It’s invite-only, with about 90 solo cyclists and 50 relay teams competing each year. Roughly 60 percent of entrants will cross the finish line. LINK
3. Exercising: Deca Ironman
Completed an Ironman triathlon? Ha! That’s nothing. If you want, to paraphrase Kenny Powers, to truly “be the best at exercising,” set your sights on the September 2013 Deca Iron Italy, which is 30 Ironman-distance triathlons in 30 days. You’ll only be considered if you’ve already completed a Deca Ironman, which is 10 consecutive days of Ironman Triathlons — and more than 20 competitors have already signed up. LINK

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