10 Hardest Marathons in the World

10 Hardest Marathons in the World

If you are wondering which are the hardest marathons in the world to run, keep reading!

Being able to successfully run a marathon takes a lot of skill and effort. A regular human being shouldn’t be able to run around 42 kilometers at a time without proper training and dedication. Such attempts might lead to serious health complications or worse.

For this reason, professional athletes and marathon runners are more than prepared to tackle this challenge, and they should do that by keeping up with all the safety measures and best practices. They go on specific diets, work with coaches and personal trainers, and even purchase the finest running equipment to achieve their marathon goals.

For some, however, running a regular marathon is simply not enough – they are looking for a bigger challenge. There are some marathons only a brave few dare to tackle, and we have prepared a great guide outlining these events.

6633 Arctic Ultra

The 6633 Arctic Ultra marathon is often called the toughest marathon in the world for one particular reason – the athletes need to run in extremely cold weather and windy conditions. It is, basically, made only for people with nerves of steel, extreme physical readiness, as well as impeccable mental strength.

The goal of the 6633 Arctic Ultra is to cross a whopping distance of 563 kilometers (350 miles) in some of the harshest weather conditions in the world. The race takes place in Canada, starts in Eagle Plains (Yukon), and goes through the Arctic Circle.

The temperatures can even go down to -40 degrees Celsius, and, we tell you, this is no joke. The 6633 Arctic Ultra is also known for winds that go up to a speed of 120km/h as well.

6633 Arctic Ultra Marathon


Only 19 people have EVER completed this crazy marathon, and if you think you can do it – consider everything you’ve read here and learn more about it. We would only recommend this to the toughest of men and women in the world.

Antarctic Ice Marathon

Yet another one of those “crazy” marathons you could potentially run, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, might be interesting if you are looking for an extreme challenge. The only catch is that you’ll be running in the middle of the Antarctic at an altitude of 700 meters.

The marathon is 42.2 km long, and the organizers have prepared a running track you should follow if you decide to participate. Even more, for the safety of contenders, a snowmobile crew with first aid and help for almost every situation will be ready to act if needed.

Nevertheless, this marathon is one of the most challenging marathons in the world, and for a really good reason too. Only those who know what they are getting themselves into should attempt to complete it.

Marathon Des Sables

Contrary to both Antarctic Ice Marathon and 6633 Arctic Ultra, the Marathon Des Sables takes place in the Sahara desert.

This incredibly-challenging marathon is 251 km long, and the longest stage is a whopping 91 km long. This is approximately the distance someone would need to run six regular marathons and all of that in the middle of a desert!

This marathon is held annually in southern parts of Morocco, and some people believe that it’s the longest foot race in the entire world. If you think you can handle it, make sure to practice for the specific conditions you will be running the race in. You will definitely need the prep to complete it.

Inca Peninsula marathon

This marathon is not only difficult, but it is one of the most dangerous marathons in the world as well. It takes place in Peru, and it follows the legendary pilgrimage trial that the bravest of the Inca people had crossed on their way to “the Lost City”.

The length is “only” 42.2 km, but the track is treacherous. A lot of things can happen during the run – insect attacks, slipping, severe injury due to track location and position, and much more.

Most marathon runners don’t dare even to attempt to run the Inca Peninsula marathon for many different reasons. If you are braver than most, you should give it a shot. However, only do it if you are certain that you’ll succeed in finishing it without any complications.

Iditarod Trail Invitational

Coming back to winter marathons and running in incredibly cold weather conditions, the Iditarod Trail Invitational is the marathon you should be checking out.

You’ll have a choice whether or not to travel through the frozen wasteland on a bicycle, on foot, or on skis even. Nevertheless, if you think that it is going to be easy – you’re wrong. Most experts think of this one as the most ruthless and coldest marathon you could ever run.

Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon

The Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon is a marathon not everyone will be able to tackle. As its name suggests, it takes place around Mount Everest. You should expect that it’s different from other marathons for several reasons – primarily due to the altitude of the starting point being 5364 m above ground level.

This marathon is only for those who can handle high altitudes and those who are brave enough to tackle everything Mont Everest has to offer. Carefully think everything through before attempting to complete this one.


The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is one of the hardest and most challenging marathons in the world, and it simply has to be a part of our list.

It takes place in France, and you’ll need to complete at least one of the annual 30 UTMB World Series Events in order to participate in UTMB.

Around 8000 people participate in this marathon every year, despite it being one of the most challenging marathons to complete.

Pikes Peak Marathon

Now, something different. The Pikes Peak marathon differs from other marathons due to several reasons. First of all, it involves rock climbing! Secondly, it is at an altitude in which the Oxygen levels are 43% less than at sea level. Finally, it is 20.1km long.

This marathon takes place in Colorado and if you think you can handle it, make sure to bring some extremely sturdy shoes with you!

The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons are some of the hardest marathons in the world due to the terrain. Plenty of competitors end up with severe foot/shin/leg injuries due to the inhospitality of the running track, but that’s the challenge – it’s not for everyone.

The Barkley Marathons are definitely not suited to be taken lightly in any case. Many competitors had been forced to give up due to severe injuries. So, if you are running this one, take care of your own safety first and foremost.

Badwater 135

This marathon is one of the longest single-track marathons you can run in the world. It covers a distance of 135 miles (217 km) of constant running, and not everyone is able to complete it.

Runners have only 48h to complete the marathon and, while there is no prize money, they will receive the Badwater 135 belt buckles as proof of completion.

Leadville Marathon

The Leadville Marathon is yet another hard and different marathon than something you’ve probably been used to by now. This marathon is run on a dirt track, and its length is 42.2 km.

While not as dangerous as other marathons mentioned in this article, running in dirt can be challenging and exhausting as well. You’ll need to be physically and mentally ready for all challenges you’ll be facing.

Jungfrau Marathon

The Jungfrau Marathon isn’t called “the most beautiful marathon in the world” for no reason. It takes place in the Swiss Alps and, while it is extremely difficult due to the conditions, it is also one of the most beautiful marathons you can run.

Make sure to bring your A-game if you wish to run this one without any issues.

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon is one of the strangest marathons you can ever run. It has 7430ft of elevation change, and it can prove difficult for most participants to complete due to them struggling with breathing on high elevation. Only try this one if you know what you’re doing.

Great Wall Marathon

If you have always wanted to run on the Great Wall of China, then this marathon is the perfect choice for you. It is not as difficult as it is breathtaking and extremely mentally exhausting. Expect to tackle stairs, elevations, curves, and many other obstacles until you complete the run. This is not for the weak of heart.


If you are one of the thrill-seekers looking for a difficult/challenging marathon, then some of the marathons we have listed here might be the perfect choice for you. However, before you attempt any of these, make sure that you are both physically and mentally ready for the challenge.

We recommend running a regular marathon before attempting any of these. They can be dangerous, and you should start things off slowly before moving on to the next level. Nevertheless, good luck!


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