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The Endurance Race So Hard That Only 14 People Have Completed It in 30 Years

The Barkley 100-Mile Marathon, held annually in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee, is considered to be one of most challenging ultra-marathons in the world. So tough, in fact, that only 14 people out of about 1,100 participants have ever managed to complete it since its inauguration in 1986! That’s just two more than the number of people who have walked on the moon.

The 100-mile run, which some claim is actually 130 miles or more, has a cumulative elevation gain of more than 60,000 feet – the equivalent of climbing mount Everest twice, from sea level. It consists of a 20-mile loop around a mountainous course that participants need to complete five times. Loops three and four need to be run in the opposite direction, with the direction for loop five being the runner’s choice. Experienced runners looking for something less extreme can opt for the 60-mile ‘fun run’, where they have to run the 20-mile loop just three times.

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Rototiller Racing – A Rural Motorsport Like No Other

Tilling a field is hard work, so it’s hard to believe that there are people who actually do it for sport. However, rototiller racing is actually a thing!  The world championship is held every year during the PurpleHull Pea festival in Emerson, Arkansas, where the world’s fastest garden tillers get together to compete for the highly coveted $500 prize.

“There is simply no other event like it,” the PurpleHull website declares. “Unique among motorsports, we like to say it is the highlight of the tiller racing season. ‘Course, to the best of our knowledge, our one-day event is the tiller racing season. Souped-up garden tillers from near and far come to compete in the world’s premier tiller racing event.”

The race begins with one competitor (a.k.a tiller pilot) per lane (200-feet-long), with the referees waiting at the finish line with their eyes on stopwatches. When the starter waves the flag, the racers are off, kicking up a huge cloud of dirt as they go. The fastest tiller is declared the winner.

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The Baikal Ice Marathon – The Ultimate Winter Endurance Race

The Baikal Ice Marathon is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Over the years, the one-of-a-kind event has seen participants from over 50 countries. These are athletes with a heart of steel – they race across a 42 kilometer course across the completely frozen surface of Baikal, the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Every year, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the Preservation of Clean Water. This year its 10th edition took place on March 1.

Although the terrain for the marathon is predominantly flat, it is still considered to be one of the world’s 10 most challenging competitions because of the freezing Siberian weather. The cold northern winds and harsh, unpredictable climate is, in fact, the biggest challenge faced by runners. In past marathons conditions have varied in severity – from high winds and biting cold, to a sunny sky with almost no chills. The lake’s surface is another problem; at times it can be hard and uneven, covered in small hills of ice rubble. Geometric springs and seismic activity beneath the ice may weaken it to form holes.

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X-Alps – The World’s Most Amazing Adventure Race

For most people, the route from Salzburg to Monaco is by road. But who wants to go on a boring road trip, when you could climb mountains and paraglide across the Alps instead? Of course, to do that you’ve got to have a real taste for adventure. If you do, then the Red Bull X-Alps annual race is just the thing for you.

It is said to be one of the toughest challenges in the world, demanding not only expert paragliding skills but extreme endurance. Participating athletes need to hike or fly over a distance of about 1,000 kilometers between Salzburg and Monaco, through one of the world’s most unforgiving environments. For adventurers, this is the ‘ultimate’ race.

Each team entering the race consists of one athlete and up to two supporters to help with logistics, food and motivation. The contestants race between 5:00 am and 10:30 pm, hiking over 100 kilometers a day. A paraglider, harness, rescue parachute, helmet, emergency signal rocket, reflector belt and tracking device must be carried at all times.

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Red Bull 400 – The Toughest 400-Meter Race in the World

Even if you’re not a professional athlete, completing a 400-meter race doesn’t sound like that big of a challenge, right? But what if that relatively short distance had to be covered up the steepest ski jumping hill in Europe? That certainly complicates things a bit, doesn’t it?

The Red Bull 400 uphill race is the brainchild of former world-class sprinter Andreas Berger. After seeing the ski jumping hill in Kulm, Austria, he got the idea to use the venue for the world’s most extreme 400-meter track and field event. Berger and his wife were the first to run up to the very top, and decided it was difficult enough but still doable. The first ever edition of the Red Bull 400 took place in 2011, and every year since then hundreds of athletes, both male and female have signed up to push their muscles to the limit in “the hardest 400 meters in the world”. Kulm is one of the steepest slopes on Earth, with an average gradient of about 45% and an angle of ascent of 37 degrees in its toughest sections. The difference in altitude from the bottom to the top is 180 meters, but it’s not just the vertical climb runners have to worry about. The grass-covered lower part of the track is very slippery, and spike or crampon footwear is not allowed, while the second stage takes place on smooth concrete, forcing participants to change their approach.

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Only in the Philippines: Riding on Wooden Scooters at 50 Kilometers Per Hour

The municipality of Banaue, in the Philippines, is widely known for its spectacular rice terraces, but few people know it’s also the setting of a traditional race that has daredevils riding wooden scooters downhill at speeds of up to 50 kph, without any kind of protection.

The wooden scooter has long been the preferred means of transportation for Ifugao (Philippine for “people of the hill) in Banaue, and is still used today, as a cheaper alternative to gas-powered motorcycles and scooters. They were created centuries ago to help people travel downhill faster. The men-folk had to walk up the surrounding hills almost every day to gather firewood and tend to their rice crops, and carrying the load back down was an exhausting task that took them hours to complete. People started making light scooters almost entirely out of wood, and pushed them uphill whenever they had something to transport back to their village. At the top, they would simply strap the load on both sides of the vehicle and let gravity take them back down in a matter of minutes. In time, making wooden scooters became an art form, and masters of the craft began decorating them with all kinds of designs, from local animals and birds to human heads. Today, the Ifugao still celebrate this useful invention by participating in a seven-kilometer wooden scooter race down a steep road along the famous Banaue Rice Terraces.

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Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing Is No Child’s Play

Every years since 2010, the guys at Busted Knuckle Films have engaged in one of the most fun-yet-dangerous off-road sports in the world – the Extreme Barbie Jeep Race. Don’t let the name fool you though, it’s serious business.

The concept behind this unique extreme sport is pretty simple. All you need is one of those power-wheels vehicles for kids and the courage to ride it down a steep hill slope, trying not too fall off or hit any trees. Participants compete for bragging rights and a few hundred dollars, but the race is more about the adrenaline rush and the fun involved in riding kids’ toys in an off-road environment than anything else. It’s pretty cheap too, as these cars can be picked up from the side of the road for free after they’re thrown away by parents who don’t understand their full potential. But like any other extreme sport, the Barbie Jeep Race can be dangerous, with the cars picking up serious speed on the rough terrain. To protect themselves against any serious injuries from falling off the plastic cars, being run over by others or hitting a tree on the side of the improvised race track, competitors wear metal helmets.

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Tough Mudder – Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet

“The Tough Mudder is not a race, it’s a challenge,” say the organizers. And it most certainly is, given the grueling nature of what is perhaps the toughest event in the world. Consisting of 10 to 12 mile ‘hardcore’ obstacle courses, the event designed by British Special Forces is meant to test stamina, strength, grit, and camaraderie. Tough Mudder is the brainchild of former counter-terrorism agent Will Dean. During his MBA course at Harvard, he was frustrated with the monotony of marathons, triathlons and mud runs. Wanting to participate in an event that truly challenged the core of his personality, he came up with the idea of Tough Mudder.

According to their official website, Tough Mudder is much more than just a race because it gives participants the opportunity to a personal challenge. Simply completing the course is an achievement in itself. The participants are not timed, and there are no winners as this is no contest. In fact, one of the rules of the event is to help your fellow mudders whenever they seem to be struggling with themselves. Men and women are strongly encouraged to participate, but the event is open only to those above 18 years of age. So far, over half a million people have participated worldwide. And 25% of them have been women. The events are currently being held in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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Latvia’s Wacky Milk Carton Boat Race

Every year, at the end of August, Latvians celebrate Milk, Bread and Honey Festival with a special race between boats made from thousands of empty milk cartons.

The milk carton boat regatta has become a very popular tradition since it first took place nine years ago. The wacky event always take place on the Lielupe River, in the Latvian town of Jelgava, and means to offer local audience a good time and popularize a healthy lifestyle through the consumption of organic dairy foods made in Latvia. Teams of locals eager of a good time, as well as some representing dairy processors and food producers enter the competition every year and fight for various titles, including the fastest boat, funniest crew and most original boat.

This year a record number of participants registered milk carton boat race – 36 teams showed up on the Lielupe River, on August 27, to prove their seafaring skills. There were only a few rules teams had to obey for this event: boats had to be made excursively of empty milk cartons and had to be guided to the finish line by human power alone. The size of the boat and number of rowers was not limited, provided the carton vessel remained afloat. The course was only 50 meters long, the shortest so far, but teams struggled to finish as they had to paddle against a strong wind. Some team members even jumped into the river to push their boats across the finish.

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90 Teams Take Part in the Annual Bed Race of Knaresborough

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race of 2011 attracted a crowd of about 25,000 people eager to see one of the wackiest races in the world.

When the popular bed race was first organized, in 1965, it was considered so difficult that only members of the Army, Navy and American Marines were allowed to take part, but nowadays everyone is allowed to compete, as long as they pay an entrance fee and have a bed decorated according to the annual theme. This year, 90 teams from as far as Germany and the USA came to Knaresborough to compete in one of the strangest, most fun races on Earth.

Teams participating in the Great Knaresborough Bed Race are made up of six runners, a decorated bed and one member brave enough to sit on the bed. The runners have to carry the bed through the 3-km-long countryside course, while the seventh member tries to hold on for dear life. The race starts easily enough, along the banks of the River Nidd, but turns into a nightmare halfway through, as teams face five difficult hill climbs to Castle Fort. Going downhill is no picnic either, especially for the guy sitting on the bed, but if they manage to reach the bottom, they’re faced with the final hurdle, crossing the river.

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Man and Horse Compete in Wacky Marathon

It might seem like horses have a clear physical advantage in a race, but hundreds of people show up to compete against them, every year, in the traditional Man vs. Horse Marathon.

The history of this wacky competition dates back to a night in November 1979, when Gordon Green, a pub owner from Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, was arguing with local Glyn Jones about the physical capabilities of men and horses. Green was absolutely sure a man could win over a single horse in a race over a long distance, while Jones argued the exact opposite. In the end, the two agreed a real race was the best way to decide their argument, so the very next year, 50 runners and 15 horses competed in a 22-miles-long race through the hills and marshes of the rural Welsh town. Glyn Jones, riding the fastest steed in Llanwrtyd Wells, won easily, but the race proved so popular that Green organized it again, the following year.

Cyclists were allowed to join the Man Versus Horse Marathon, between 1985 and 1992, and in 1989 a man (on a bicycle) crossed the finish line first. The Welsh government finally banned cyclists in 1992, arguing that bike wheels damaged forest paths and man were back to competing against horses, on their own two feet. Believe it or not, we actually managed to beat the horses, twice even. The first was in 2004, when Huw Lobb, a British marathon runner, came first, and the second was in 2007. There (kind of) was a third human success in 2009, when runner Martin Cox claimed victory, but judges decided to give the title to a horse named “Duke’s Touch of Fun”, after discontinuing the time in which the mare was checked by a vet, during the race. Cox threw away the trophy and vowed never to race again.

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The Bikini Track Sprint – A Horse Race for Women

An Australian horse race arena has caused great controversy when it announced it will be hosting an annual horse  race for women dressed only in bikinis.

When they came up with the idea of a women’s horse race, the guys at The Gold Coast Turf Club in Queensland, Australia probably thought something like “if guys come to the race track to see horses run, just imagine how many of them will come to see beautiful women dressed in skimpy bikinis  do the exact same thing.” The Bikini Track Sprint is scheduled to take place on December 4, with over 150 girls racing for the prize of 5,000 Australian dollars.

Believe it or not, in a poll conducted by a local tourism website, just 27% percent of voter said they find his kind of event degrading for women, while the other 73% were perfectly alright with it. Even the members of Women in Racing, a Gold-Coast group that promotes racing, said they can think of better ways of marketing races, but they’ll back anything that has something to do with racing.

The chairman of The Gold Coast Turf Club agrees there will be a few raised eyebrows at the event, but that the club will do everything in its power to attract really competitive girls and give the audience a real race.

The Bikini Track Sprint isn’t really an original idea. The American horse track Hollywood Park, in California has been organizing similar events for quite some time, and their success probably inspired the Australian race track to come up with their very own horse race for beautiful women in bikinis.

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Pumpkin Lovers Compete in Giant Pumpkin Boat Race

The Pumpkin Boat Race of Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival has people racing each other in hollowed out pumpkins, across Ludwigsburg Lake.

Known as the biggest pumpkin related event in the world, the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival draws in pumpkin enthusiasts from all around the globe, every year. They travel to the small German town to see over 500,000 pumpkins, from 450 different varieties, arranged in all kinds of different shapes, from animals to abstract sculptures.

One of the most eagerly awaited events of the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival is the pumpkin boat race. Giant pumpkins, some of them over 90 kg heavy, are hollowed out and launched onto Ludwigsburg Lake, and contestants have to paddle their way to the finish line, in the cheers of onlookers. I’m not sure what the prize is for winning such a bizarre boat race, but I could swear it’s something related to pumpkins.

If you’re a pumpkin lover yourself, you’ll be happy to know the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival continues until early November.

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The Wacky Wooden Tub Race of Ito City

Every year, since 1956, the Japanese city of Ito has hosted the wooden tub race on Matsukawa River, a fun event that draws competitors and spectators from all around the world.

According to the story, the Japanese women of Ito used wooden tubs and wash boards to clean their laundry at Matsukawa River. When these tools became obsolete, and were about to be replaced by modern washing machines, the people of Ito decided to hang on to their tradition, by starting a tub race along the river. The first wooden tub race was held in 1956, and it’s been organized yearly since then.

Hundreds of people gather on the banks of Matsukawa River, for one of the wackiest competitions in the world. Contestants have to steer the 1 meter in diameter, 30 cm deep, oval-shaped tubs along the 400-meter course, using oars or giant wooden spoons. It sound easy enough, but out-paddling the other contestants without falling out of the tub, is harder that you think.

Another cool fact about the tub race of Ito City is the contestants usually dress up in themed costumes, mostly as geishas and samurai

 

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Nude Sled Race Attracts Thousands in Germany

Braunlage isn’t one of Germany’s busiest towns, but last Saturday, authorities had to cope with serious logistics problems, caused by the annual Naked Sled Race held on the local slope.

Over 14,000 people traveled to Braunlage to see 30 participants take off their clothes before venturing down the snowy slopes, on red and black sleds. A national radio station sponsored the offbeat competition, won by 26-year-old Christian Schimdt.

As you can see in the photos, some of Germany’s hottest girls took part in the nude race, most of them tanned and ready to hit the beach. But the crowd was more impressed with a 70-year-old man who stripped down and raced down the 100-meter course, along with his younger competitors.

Photos via CCTV

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