I tackled the New York City marathon and am training for Chicago in 2018, but I get it – running isn’t for everyone. Plenty of people blanche at the idea of covering 26.2 miles in one sitting, and I know exactly where they’re coming from because there are races that sound distasteful, dangerous, and downright distressing. Like what, you ask? Like these – the craziest races you’ll never see me run.
Marathon du Médoc
At first blush, the Marathon du Médoc sounds right up my alley. This race winds its way through the scenic vineyards in the south of France. I like food, I like wine, and I like running. Enjoying all three at once sounds the best time ever, right? Wrong. Because when you combine three things into a single event you get what Vicky Lane correctly calls “the most idiotic race known to man.” She goes on to explain, “the participants – in compulsory fancy dress – are expected to indulge in 23 glasses of the famed vintages en route, while also stuffing themselves with local specialties such as oysters, foie gras, cheese, steak and ice-cream. Brilliant.” Think you could run 26 miles in costume while downing 23 glasses of wine and the fattiest foods on the planet? I sure don’t have the alcohol tolerance or the intestinal fortitude for that. Pass.
North Pole Marathon
Heatstroke and dehydration are two of the biggest threats at most marathons. But most marathons aren’t held in one of the coldest place on earth. The North Pole Marathon is billed as “The World’s Coolest Marathon” but it can easily be called the world’s craziest. The founder, Richard Donovan, casually pointed out a few unique dangers of running at the top of the world to Jon Finkel. “Hypothermia can happen because it’s minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can get frostbite and polar bears are in the area, but we minimize the hazards.” In other words, if you sign up for this race you may lose a few toes to frostbite or get mauled by a hungry polar bear. Hmmm. I should also mention that participants run circles around a 2.62-mile loop or they risk getting lost on the featureless ice bluff. Sound like fun to you? Then go for it! I’ll be rooting you on from the bear-free streets of New York City.
No list of ridiculous races would be complete without at least one ultramarathon. The Jungle Ulta isn’t just any ultramarathon though – this crazy race makes participants slog their way through the dense Peruvian jungle over a whopping 142.6 miles. As Anna Callaghan describes it, “the course drops 10,500 feet to the jungle floor and crosses some 70 rivers and streams as it winds through the jungle.”
It’s also a self-sufficient race, so runners must carry their own sleeping bag and food for the whole event. So to sum it up: malaria-carrying mosquitoes, humidity that can reach 100%, and running 100+ miles over rugged and often inhospitable terrain with a week’s worth of supplies on your back. This is one race where you can definitely count me out.