Venturing to the edge of human possibility is not limited to the physical realm. The mind often gives up long before the body submits. So what is it that makes us quit? Pain, suffering, fatigue? There is no one answer. But often lost on this lengthy list of hurdles is the simple concept of unfamiliarity. For many endurance athletes, forward progress can be exceptionally difficult when you don’t know what’s coming around the next corner.
Within the pages of The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges, there is lots of unfamiliar terrain. Indeed, this murder’s row of suffering includes 55 events representing some of the most challenging challenges known to man. But certain events stand out just a little more due to proximity — or lack thereof. These are the far flung affairs that require most entrants to not only battle brutal physical challenges, but also venture to far away strange lands.
Take the Yak Attack, a 248-mile mountain bike race in Nepal. The primary challenge is the 39,000 feet of accumulated climbing, all of it done at high altitude. But factor in new culture, new food, and entirely unfamiliar surroundings, and you have the makings of a truly monumental test of mettle.
The same can be said of the stunningly difficult 4 Deserts ultra-marathon race, which as the name suggests is contested on a quartet of deserts in Chile, Egypt, China, and finally Antarctica. Each race is covers 155 miles and lasts seven grueling days.
“Each desert caries its own individual challenges, making the physical and mental barriers to completion huge,” reads the description in The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges. “The mental strain that desert racing places on the athletes in immense.”
It is this combination of physical and mental trauma that makes these events and other like them apt material for the enthralling pages inside The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges.