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Written by
Frances McCann
Frances McCann

5 Alternative (crazy?!) ways to do a long distance trail

The London Marathon runners are warming up for what for many will be the challenge of a lifetime. Yesterday, I mentioned to a friend my disappointment in myself at my absence of a training regime; "One day, I will do a marathon", I decided aloud. "Good plan", was the response, followed by "I know someone who ran the West Highland Way last year". Suddenly my marathon intentions seemed a touch feeble. Run the 96 mile West Highland Way? This got me thinking; what are the most challenging (craziest) ways to complete a long distance trail? The findings put my training efforts into perspective, but all credit to those who complete (or even dare to start) these ultra-marathons and extreme races. Fancy trying any of these?  

1. The Everest Trail Race Ultra-Marathon: November 2014

                  Running at up to 19,500 ft above sea level.... Sounds fun doesn't it! This multi-stage race covers just under 100 miles over 6 days in the remote Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas. Ok, so that averages 16 to 17 miles per day which a seasoned runner could handle, but bear in mind that the altitude range is over 80,000 ft (25,000m)...yep that's right. I had to read that a few times to check my eyes weren't deceiving me. Even spectating in the race involves a Himalayan climb. http://www.everesttrailrace.co.uk/ TMB

2. The Tour du Mont Blanc - Ultra Style: August 2014

Macs Adventure offer hikes on the Tour du Mont Blanc of up to 12 walking days. The winner of the Tour du Mont Blanc Ultra-Marathon will finish the 168km running route with an altitude change of over 30,000ft in just over 20 hours.  http://www.ultratrailmb.com/ marathon des sables

3. Marathon des Sables, Sahara Desert: April 2014

Running the London Marathon this year? You could have ran approximately 150 miles through the Sahara Desert in Morocco instead! In over 40 degrees celsius heat. With a backpack on. Through sand. http://marathondessables.com/en/  

whw-race4. West Highland Way Race: June 2014

This race began in the mid 1980's, with less than 10 runners completing the race in the first few years. in 2013, 149 runners finished the race, with the winner completing 96 miles in an astounding 15 hours 7 minutes and 29 seconds. Visit http://westhighlandwayrace.org/ for more information, or for a more leisurely pace, have a look at Macs Adventure's walking itineraries on the West Highland Way (none of which are 15 hours long!) 662-Grand-Canyon-in-the-Evening-Light

5. Grand to Grand Ultra, Arizona: September 2014

A new race on the Ultra-Marathon circuit, and a high impact way to see one of the seven wonders of the natural world! In 6 stages, racers cover 170 miles of desert, river crossings, and rocky roads, with a total ascent of 18,359ft. Last year's winner completed the route in just over 30 hours. http://www.g2gultra.com/ Well, that puts things into perspective. Best dust off those running shoes!
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