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A footrace covering a distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometres), introduced to the modern Olympics in1896. It was called a ‘marathon’ in memory of the Athenian soldier Pheidippides, who ran from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens, to announce the defeat of the Persians (490 BC)”.

 

This is the definition of the word marathon in the Italian dictionary.  But it would seem the world may have misunderstood its true meaning…

 

Prepare yourself for 5 of the most extreme footraces in the world – competitions that will make the New York marathon look like a 4 x 100 relay race!

 

Jungle Ultra Marathon, Peru

This 143 mile (230 km) ultramarathon takes place in the Amazon forest. The start line is located at over 3000 metres above sea level, with a trail that goes through tribal villages, uncontaminated forests and mountainous terrain.  Another peculiarity of this race is that, due to the hostile environment, the participants have to be self-sufficient and equipped with a back pack containing clothes and supplies and… they also have to watch out for the local wildlife, which includes jaguars and monkeys!

 

Maratona des Sables, Marocco

A 217 mile (350 km) footrace that takes place in the Moroccan region of the Sahara desert.

Its pioneer was Patrick Bauer, who completed this challenge on his own, without the help of a guide.   In 2014, over 1000 people took part in the race.

There will be over 1300 participants at the next, 2019 MDS race: the youngest is 16, while the oldest is 79 years of age.

 

The Great Wall of China Marathon, China

Inaugurated in 1999, the 2015 race attracted a good 2500 participants.

The marathon takes place on both the wall and the lower valley and also involves tackling 5146 steps!

Competitors who are unable to complete the race within 8 hours are disqualified.

 

Big Five Marathon, South Africa

This one-of-a-kind competition takes place in the Big Five nature reserve.  A leg of the race goes through the savannah, where runners compete neck and neck with lions, rhinoceroses and elephants.

But the terrain is the worst enemy for the runners, who must face both sandy and rocky trails.

 

Barkley Marathon, Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee

This race combines a demanding 60 to 100 mile (96.6 to 161 km) trail with an unusual activity. In fact, to complete the marathon, competitors must hunt for books that are hidden along the way, rip out a page and bring the torn out pages back with them across the finish line.  The books are hidden in some of the oddest places: underground, in the tree tops, concealed amongst the vegetation, etc. Out of the last 1000 participants, only 14 managed to complete the race.

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