If hours in the gym aren’t doing it for you anymore, it’s probably time to challenge yourself to something a little more demanding. Whether you’re a runner, a walker, a climber or a cyclist, there are some fitness challenges around the world that only a handful of people have completed.
See the world and find out just how far your body can go by taking on these seven awesome challenges.
1. The 6633 Ultra
Canada’s 563km run has to be the most extreme race in the world. Some of these gargantuan event takes place inside the Arctic Circle, meaning competitors have to content with extreme weather conditions for several days. There is very little help along the way, as each runner has to carry all of their own provisions, including food, sleeping bags, tents and safety equipment. Starting in the northern Yukon, The 6633 Ultra concludes in Tuktoyaktuk by the Arctic Ocean.
2. The Grande Randonnee 20
This gruelling event is actually a network of 100 footpaths that wind their way around Western Europe. The Grande Randonnee is based in Corsica, but includes 180km of paths that take challengers through some of the most spectacular landscapes on the continent. If you’re reasonably fit, expect to complete the course in around 15 days.
3. The Matterhorn
More than 500 climbers have lost their lives to this monstrous peak in Switzerland over the years — but that doesn’t stop people attempting the 4478m climb every year. The Matterhorn is one of the world’s most famous mountains, and includes ice climbs, scrambling and an advanced level of fitness. This extreme challenge can take anything between eight hours and two days.
4. The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is widely considered to be the most challenging race in Europe. The 166km course takes in the Mont Blanc Masif, and includes a staggering 9500m of climbing. All challengers must carry all their own provisions. If you’re a professional athlete and used to extreme conditions, you might be able to complete the course in 20 hours — otherwise you’re looking at around 40. However, it’s worth pointing out that a significant number of people who start the Ultra Trail never finish it.
5. The Great Himalaya Trail
You’ll need several weeks off work to even attempt The Great Himalaya Trail. This mammoth challenge is 1700km of walking and climbing in some of the most challenging conditions on Earth. Beginning in Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, the trail concludes in Tibet — but not before competitors walk several hundred miles across India. Along the way, you’ll pass by all of the planet’s 8000m+ peaks, including Mount Everest.
6. Mount Ventoux’s Three Ascents
Mount Ventoux’s Three Ascents is widely regarded as the most challenging cycling event in the world. Labelled by Lance Armstrong as the toughest climb of the Tour de France, Mount Ventoux is steep and unforgiving. If professional cyclists find ascending the mountain once tough, imagine what it’s like to climb it three times in a day. This challenge takes you along a 68km route, and includes 4443m of climbing.
7. Escape from Alcatraz
No one ever (at least officially) escaped from Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco during its 29-year lifespan. The 2.4km swim from the island to the shore features ice-cold water and dangerously strong currents — making it potentially lethal. However, this doesn’t stop 2,000 triathletes from making the crossing every year. But the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon doesn’t stop there. Once on land, competitors take on a 29km cycle ride and a 13km run through the Golden Gate Recreation Area.
These seven challenges are all potentially life-threatening — so only the fittest need apply.