The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges: Multi-Discipline Masochism

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The traditional image of triathlon doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of epicness. The average sprint distance swim-bike-run event typically takes the winners only about 75 minutes; the rankest of amateurs can usually finish in under two hours. And even the vaunted Ironman distance, though exceptionally difficult by comparison, is not beyond the realm of most highly dedicated weekend warriors.

The same can not be said for the Norseman, one of the numerous multi-discipline events featured in The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. On paper the Norseman is a standard Ironman distance: 2-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26-mile run. But it’s what lies between start and finish that makes this the widely-accepted “world’s toughest long-distance triathlon.”

Set in the far reaches of Norway, the Norseman sends competitors on a brutal voyage that includes swimming across an icy fjord, cycling up countless steep, wind-whipped climbs, and finally running to the top of a craggy, towering peak. “Only the first 160 are allowed to pass the 20-mile checkpoint,” explains The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. “And they have to do so within 14 hours, 30 minutes… And at the top? If it isn’t dark, athletes are treated to a spectacular view of the Norwegian countryside.”

The payoff for pain is equally brilliant in the brutal Patagonia Expedition Race. Though not a traditional triathlon, this 372-mile race across one of the least inhabited regions on the planet requires a varied skill set, as 20 teams of four run, bike, and paddle their way to a far-away finish line.

“What’s more, the team nature of the competition places added physical and mental strain on those who take part,” reads The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. “Every team must start and finish the race together, and if any of the competitors are unable to finish one of the stages, then the whole team is forced to pull out.”

That’s asking a lot when the hurdles between start and finish include “river valleys, towering rocks, glaciers, and fjords.”

Learn more about these punishing multi-discipline events and others like them inside the awe-inspiring pages of The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges.The World's Toughest Endurance Challenges cover WTEC 96dpi_450p_stroke