This story has been archived from the Sunday, August 20, 2006
Pikes Peak Marathon vs. The Toughest Marathons in the World
Compiled By JAYME RAMSON
PIKES PEAK MARATHON
Where: Starts and finishes in Manitou Springs
When: 3rd Sunday in August
Elevation: Starts at 6,295 feet. Competitors race to the 14,115-foot summit and back to Manitou Springs.
Winning time: 3:58:49 in 2005 (course record is 3:16:39)
Whats tough: Competitors must meet cutoff times throughout the race or theyre sent back down the mountain. Racers face rough terrain and the threat of lightning above tree line.
Whats not: Half the race is downhill. Long portions of the trail around Barr Camp are relatively flat.
TENZING HILLARY EVEREST MARATHON
Where: Mount Everest in Nepal
Elevation: Start at Everest Base Camp (17,593 feet) and finish at Namache Bazaar (11,283 feet).
Winning time: 3:28:27 in 2006
Whats tough: The 6,310-foot drop in elevation during the race might seem helpful, but the thin air and the rough terrain negates it. Competitors cant show up at the starting line on race day the event requires a two week trip during which athletes hike and camp on the way to the races starting line.
Whats not: Surprisingly, the weather. While night temperatures might dip into the teens, race temperatures range from 50 degrees to 68 degrees.
ANTARCTIC ICE MARATHON
Where: Antarctica. Starting line is a few hundred miles from the South Pole.
Elevation: 3,300 feet
Winning time: 5:09:38 in 2005
Whats tough: Snow, ice, strong winds and sub-zero temperatures throughout the race. The entry fee is tough to cover if youre on a tight budget its $15,000.
Whats not: Finding some ice for sore muscles after the race.
INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU MARATHON
Where: Cuzco, Peru (Southern Peruvian Andes)
Elevation: Starts at 8,000 feet. The route includes three high passes: Dead Womans Pass (13,779 feet), the pass above the Runkuraqay ruins (13,100) and the pass above the Phuyupatamarca ruins (11,939). The altitude at the finish line at Machu Picchu is 7,872 feet.
Winning time: 5:51 in 2006
Whats tough: The rocky, uneven downhill parts of the Inca Trail could result in a nasty spill with the smallest misstep. The climbs arent too friendly either. Competitors often stray off the main trail sometimes ending up in the jungle. Temperatures range from below freezing (in the passes) to the 90s (near Machu Picchu and the tropical forest).
Whats not: Runners stop and fill their water bottles along the way. Taking a break doesnt make you a wimp in this race.
THE GREAT WALL MARATHON
Where: Tianjin Province, China
Winning time: 3:38:06 in 2006
Whats tough: Steep ascents, steep descents and over 3,700 stone steps. Theres no shade on this course.
Whats not: Part of the course is run on flat roads through villages and rice fields.
Where: Tindouf, Algeria
Winning time: 3:06:55 in 2006
Whats tough: Mouthfuls of sand should be expected during this race. Climate extremes are harsh.
Whats not: Friendly crowds. Competitors race through Saharawi refugee camps where plenty of spectators cheer them (entry fees are donated to the refugee organizations).
Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.