The World's Wildest Marathons

We know #teamgrangers love to stay active and, for a lot of you, that includes running. It might just be a hobby to increase your stamina, beat your PB or improve your general fitness but for some, it’s about pushing your body and mind to the absolute limit. The London Marathon is around the corner, taking place on 21st April, and some of you might be taking part. It's a tough, gruelling race but it's certainly not the most challenging. So how does a marathon through inhospitable climates, dangerous environments and labyrinthine terrains sound? Appealing? Or maybe more like a nightmare? Either way, read on for our rundown of the world’s wildest marathons.

Everest Marathon – Nepal

Offering half-marathon, full marathon and extreme ultra routes, the Everest Marathon is the world’s highest marathon with an elevation of over 17,500 feet. Taking nearly two weeks to complete the full marathon, participants have to face rugged terrain, high altitudes, dangerously low temperatures and thin air.

Barkley Marathons – USA

The Barkley Marathons is a notoriously difficult and secretive run, with its route changing every year through the challenging landscape of the Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. Inspired by the escape of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, who only managed to cover 15 miles of the park in 60 hours, the founders of the Barkley Marathons debated whether they could cover 100 miles of the park in 60 hours. Very few details have been made public about how to enter, however, if you have never run the marathon before, you must bring a license plate from your country/state as part of your registration fee.

Marathon Des Sables – Morocco

Hailed as the hardest footrace on earth, this marathon takes place in the Saharan Desert, meaning runners must deal with blistering heat, sunburn and dehydration. The runners must also carry their backpacks containing camping equipment, food and anything else they might need to survive the race.

Man vs. Horse Marathon – Wales

Man vs Horse Marathon pits runners against riders on horseback on 22 miles of road, mountainous landscape and trail. This bizarre race was founded back in Wales in 1980 after a landlord overheard a discussion between two men in his pub, with one of the men arguing that humans are equal horses in cross-country running. So far, in the 42 years the race has been running, humans have only won three times.

UTMB – France, Italy, Switzerland

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a 106-mile race, starting in France, passing through Italy, Switzerland and then back to France. The temperature can be oppressively hot during the day and drop right down to freezing at night, meaning the competitors not only have to contend with mountainous climbs and rocky trails through the Alps but also have to cope with both extreme heat and bitter cold.

Marathon du Medoc – France
With a six-and-a-half-hour cut-off time, this marathon is less about competition and more about sampling all 23 wine tastings, cheese, oyster and foie gras stops along the way. Taking place every year in Medoc, France, this fancy-dress, carnival-themed run has participants drunkenly stumbling through 30 beautiful vineyards, with plenty of medical assistance on hand to deal with alcohol-related accidents and dehydration.

Underwater Marathon – Scotland

This one-time marathon was undertaken by Lloyd Scott in Scotland’s Loch Ness. It took him 12 days in a 180lb antique diving suit to wade the length of Loch Ness, raising awareness for Children with Leukaemia, at depths of 30ft. He became the first person to take on such a challenge and was working against cold temperatures, issues with air supply, low visibility, intense water pressure and loneliness.

So, that wraps up Grangers’ rundown of the world’s most bizarre marathons. Would you dare take on any of these extreme runs? We’re certainly tempted. Let us know what your next challenge is by tagging us on Instagram with #withgrangersyoucan