ICE MARATHON Clean Water Preservation Run

Men's Journal: 25 Best Adventure Marathons in the World

10 / 25

The North Pole Marathon

Who: 45 runners

When: April 9, 2018

Why it’s unique: You’re not just standing on top of the world, you’re running anywhere from eight to ten laps around it. The 26.2-mile course, protected from polar bears by armed guards and altered every year to avoid breaks in the ice, is located near the international North Pole Camp of Barneo. The toughest challenges up in the high arctic? A chilling combination of energy-sapping footing, which gets more difficult with each pass and the temps which hover around negative 40-degrees Fahrenheit. [npmarathon.comOpens a New Window.]

11 / 25

The Hillary, New Zealand

Who: 200 runners

When: February 24, 2018

Why it’s unique: The Hillary Trail Run is a three- to four-day trek that opened in January 2010 on Aukland’s west coast and is named for explorer, Sir Edmund Hillary. And true to form, there is no marathon along this track – just a 50-mile ultra that climbs a staggering 12,000-feet and requires you to carry a first-aid kit specifically outfitted to assuage your knees for the pounding they’re promised to be dealt on the downhill. [ a New Window.]


12 / 25

The Big Five Marathon, South Africa

Who: 250 runners

When: June 23, 2018

Why it’s unique: You’re running in the wilderness of the Entabeni Game Reserve in South Africa’s Limpopo province in Waterberg on a tricky footing that morphs from deep sand to streams of clunky rocks. When not navigating the treacherous tread, you’re on safari; this part of South Africa, west of Kruger and next to Botswana, is known for easy sightings of the big five game animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinoceros. [big-five-marathon.comOpens a New Window.]

13 / 25

Inca Trail Marathon, Peru

Who: 50 runners

When: June 2019 and August 2019

Why it’s unique: After whizzing past the hordes of tourists on 26.2 miles of the famed Inca Trail and ascending over 5,100 feet (with a peak of 13,800 at Dead Woman’s Pass), you’re welcomed by Machu Picchu, where you may recover among the ruins. If that’s not enough, go for the Chasqi Challenge, which tacks on a run around Mount Ausengate and measures 100 miles in total. [andesadventures.comOpens a New Window.]


14 / 25

Jungle Marathon, Brazil

Who: 80 runners

When: October 2018

Why it’s unique: Choose your pain: the marathon, four-stage, 78-mile ultra, or the six-stage, 158-mile ultra. No matter which, the race requires you to run with a pack (bring your own hammock if you’re doing an ultra) though the mud, over steep inclines where you’re basically pulling yourself up, and swimming across rivers while battling heat and humidity and facing the feral dangers of the Brazilian Amazon – it’s not uncommon to find large snakes and every year a few runners spot a panther. A medical certificate is required. [junglemarathon.comOpens a New Window.]

15 / 25

Full Moon Marathon, Jordan

Who: 350 runners

When: May 2018

Why it’s unique: The Bedouins who live in the Jordan’s Wadi Rum have been traversing the desert by night through the ages, so why not run it? The race is staged entirely by the light of moon, over a shape shifting swamp of sand which differs from year to year, but in the past there have been 1,600-feet tall sand dunes to contend with, not to mention biting, dusty winds. [amazingrunningtours.comOpens a New Window.]


16 / 25

World Marathon Challenge, Earth

Who: 12 runners

When: January-February 2018 and January-February 2019

Why it’s unique: Stepping foot on all seven continents is on just about any adventurer’s bucket list, but real bragging rights come after accomplishing the feat in just seven days while running seven marathons. The event starts on the icy floor of Union Glacier in Antarctica, then to the Chile’s southern most city of Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan. Next, it’s onto Miami, Madrid, and Marrakech in Africa, followed by Asia’s Dubai and finally Sydney, Australia. Finish and land a prestigious place among the 86 men and women who are part of the Intercontinental Marathon Club. [worldmarathonchallenge.comOpens a New Window.]


17 / 25

Volcano Marathon, Chile

Who: 40 runners

When: November 9, 2018

Why it’s unique: The constant fumarole around Lascar Volcano, Chile’s most active crater, and the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, forge the stage for this run. The majority of the Volcano Marathon takes on dirt roads that are above 13,000 feet where the air can be as much as 40-percent thinner than at sea level. [volcanomarathon.comOpens a New Window.]

18 / 25

Pike's Peak Marathon, USA

Who: 800 runners

When: August 18 and 19, 2018

Why it’s unique: You need to qualify for this classic Colorado mountain marathon course that’s a constant 7,815-feet climb from the town of Manitou, along footing of decomposed rock, loose gravel, and broken rock of Barr Trail (considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the U.S.) to the top of Pike’s Peak. There’s a killer three-mile stretch at a 12.4-percent incline after mile 10 that leads up to the summit and up over the 14,000-feet mark. [pikespeakmarathon.orgOpens a New Window.]


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19 / 25

Windhoek Lager Fish River Canyon Ultra, Namibia

Who: 150 runners

When: July 2018

Why it’s unique: Walking Fish River Canyon Trail to the floor of Africa’s largest canyon is one of the most epic hikes in the world, and this 62-mile ultra turns it into a 24-hour downhill foot-race that encourages you to find your own shortcuts, forces you to battle tricky footing and knee-crunching descents until you reach the hot springs resort of Ai-AisOpens a New Window.[africanextremepromotions.comOpens a New Window.]


20 / 25

Antarctic Ice Marathon, Antarctica

Who: 50 runners

When: December 13, 2018

Why it’s unique: The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes this race as the southernmost marathon on Earth; it is, after all, the only race that takes place inside the actual arctic circle. At the center of the windiest continent, runners face severe drag, in addition to psych-outs due to the vast, monochrome landscape that makes judging distances and inclines next to impossible. [icemarathon.comOpens a New Window.]


21 / 25

6633 Ultra, Canada

Who: 30 runners

When: March 9, 2018

Why it’s unique: In its seven year history, only 11 runners have ever finished this non-stop 350 mile race that starts in Canada’s Yukon, finishes in the Northwest Territory and criss-crosses in and out of the arctic circle during its most tumultuous season. It’s completely self-sufficient, meaning you’re taking your tent, sleeping bag, food, water, and all manner of gear, and checkpoints can be up to 70 miles apart. There may be no more epic way to discover the primordial soul of Canada. [6633ultra.comOpens a New Window.]

Andrew Watson / Getty Images22 / 25

Australian Outback Marathon, Australia

Who: 300 runners

When: July 28, 2018

Why it’s unique: Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) in Australia’s dusty, red outback are two of the country’s most recognizable natural wonders that you’ll pass as you run this mostly level trail that passes from dirt path to largely unsealed roads. [australianoutbackmarathon.comOpens a New Window.]


Mark Harris / Getty Images23 / 25

Spartathlon, Greece

Who: 350 runners

When: September 28-29, 2018

Why it’s unique: The non-stop, 150-mile road and trail race starts in Athens and finishes Sparta — a recreation of the famed run of Pheidippides, who in 490BC is said to have run this distance in one day, seeking Spartan backup during the first Persian invasion of Greece at the battle of Marathon. [spartathlon.grOpens a New Window.]

24 / 25

Petra Desert Marathon, Jordan

Who: 350 runners

When: September 1, 2018

Why it’s unique: The ancient stone-carved buildings in this South Jordan town, the country’s number one tourist attraction, are the backdrop for this daytime desert race that pits heat and a steady, pebble filled incline against your legs and nerves. [petra-desert-marathon.comOpens a New Window.]


Bill Stevenson / Getty Images25 / 25

The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, France

Who: 2,300 runners

When: August 27, 2018 and September 2, 2018

Why it’s unique: One of the hardest footraces in Europe, the North Face Ultra is a complete, non-stop tour of the Mont Blanc Massif in the Alps, a 105-mile (166km) trail-run though France, Italy, and Switzerland, climbing some 31,500 cumulative feet in under 46 hours. [ultratrailmb.comOpens a New Window.]