Gruelling Games

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Gruelling Games

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Most Physically Demanding Events

After going through the top 5 most prestigious sports trophies lets explore the most physically demanding sporting events and competitions. These events do not just require natural talent, they require that little bit extra that not many people possess. In some situations, athletes are literally putting their lives on the line to win these gruelling events. These events are not undertaken for the sports trophies or the glory. These sports are a test of human physical endurance.

The Badwater Ultramarathon

The Badwater Ultramarathon is a 217km race that takes place in mid-July in California’s Death Valley with typical temperatures over 45 degrees Celsius. The finish line is 2500 metres above sea level at Whitney Portal, the base of Mount Whitney. The concept of the race is that it links the lowest and highest points in the US, as they are positioned only 130 km’s apart on the map (which increases to 217km because of the lake beds and mountain ranges). The route was first run by Al Arnold in 1974 but he only lasted 29km and had to quit due to dehydration. After a few more failed attempts he successfully completed the course in 1977, it took him 80 hours. The most recent winners time was 23.5 hours for the men and 27.5 for the women’s winner who was an Australian called Nikki Wynd.

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The Iditarod Trail Invitational

The Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world’s longest winter ultra marathon. 50 people are invited each year to compete. The competitors travel by mountain bike, foot and ski and follow the historic Iditarod trail. They start in Knik in Alaska and travel over the Alaska range finishing in Nome 1000 miles later. To compete in 1000 mile race you have to have completed the shorter 350-mile race the previous year. The race organiser explains how ‘a mistake at the wrong time could cost you your fingers or toes’, ‘the only form of rescue is self-rescue’, and ‘for those who expect marked trails and more support should consider an alternative race’.  American Lawyer Tim Hewitt has finished the race a record 8 times.

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The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons were designed by Gary Cantrell after hearing that James Earl Ray (Martin Luther King’s assassin) had only travelled 13 km’s in the woods after escaping from prison in the woods. ‘I could do at least 100 miles,’ he said to himself. The 32km course is completed 5 times with no aid stations, just water breaks. The accumulated vertical climb is 16,500 metres. 35 runners compete annually and the race starts when a cigarette is lit. The competitors have to write an essay on why they should be able to run in the race in order to compete.

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The Crossfit Games

The Crossfit Games are an annual competition comprising of aerobic, weight lifting, gymnastics and surprise elements. The athletes are only told of the exercises hours before they compete. The winner is universally regarded as the fittest person on the planet. There are different age categories and there is even a 60+ age category. American Rich Froning has won the male open event 4 out of the last 5 years. No sports trophies here, but a combined purse of 2 million dollars was shared in 2015.

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The Tour de France

The Tour de France takes place over a 23 day period comprising of 21 stages and covering approximately 3500 km. The race has taken place since 1903, only stopping for the two world wars. Originally only French cyclists competed but as the race gained popularity,  international cyclists started racing and the race began to encompass other nearby countries.  The modern cyclists compete in sponsored teams and there are different classifications for sprinters, hill climbers, young riders and teams. The leader wears the famous yellow jersey. Riders recommended daily calorie intake ranges from 4000-9000 cal, while fluid intake can be as high as 10 litres. Cyclists simply cannot get enough calories, however, it is not uncommon for cyclists to lose 5-8 kgs during the race (when they already have very low body fat, it is extreme weight loss). Do not feel too sorry for them, though; this year’s winner Chris Froome collected half a million dollars in prize money alone. The winners also receive Bohemian Crystal Trophies.

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