The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges: Extreme Among Extremes

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In a book titled The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges, it’s difficult to pick out one event as the most extreme. But leave it to the folks at Red Bull to make a strong case. Competitors in the Red Bull X-Alps must run — and fly — their way from Salzburg, Austria, to Monaco, traversing 546 miles along the main chain of the towering European Alps.

The flight portion of this exclusive event (no more than 30 entrants allowed) is done via paraglider, meaning all competitors must be both in exceptional physical condition and top-shelf sailing experts.

“Every athlete who takes part in the race has to hold an official paragliding license and be an experienced mountaineer,” explains The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. “Athletes have been known to paraglide as little as 40 percent of the course en route to finishing in Monaco. That can mean stretches of up to 50 miles of continuous running with a paraglider strapped on their back before climbing the next mountain and launching yet again.”

Other hurdles in the Red Bull X-Alps include vicious snowstorms, complete white-outs, and the fact that even the winner is usually on course for 11-12 days.

It’s takes an equally supreme skill set to survive the Yukon Arctic Ultra, which as the name implies takes place in some of the coldest landscape known to man.

“Everything about the Yukon Arctic Ultra is tough: the distance, terrain, cold, loneliness… the list goes on,” reads The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. “Temperatures can plummet to -58 Fahrenheit… and when the athletes body’s start to heat up, they start to sweat, creating a fine layer of perspiration on their skin, which can then freeze… And most competitors talk about sleep-deprivation induced hallucinations during the race.”

Now that’s extreme.

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