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One commitment I made to myself this year was to train and train hard, but more than that, was to train consistently harder and despite whatever obstacles might appear, enter and compete in no less than 3 endurance events in 2010. Well the season is approaching. Due to my making this resolution in early January and Japan’s fanatical race registry system (often must register 3 to 4 months early even for unknown events) my season will be *lucky lucky me* late spring and early summer.

I assure you, I will write more about what I am doing personally as the time approaches but today I feel compelled to look at something that more and more is on my mind: Pain and Misery.

Anyone that has ever committed to training and training hard knows that the body is capable of a lot. Anyone who has ever actually tested ones self will know even more, that when the mind is focused on the mission, the body will do what its told. This was a Mantra that was drilled into me years ago:

The Mind will always quit before the Body

It is one of the truest things you will ever here. This is the first component that got me thinking about this post today…the second was my growing realization that real sport accomplishment or any REAL accomplishment at all is great when you love what you are doing, but means INFINITELY more when you actually HATE the activity you are forcing yourself to do day in and day out.

I honestly believe that those two points are THE point, and lie at the core of so much, if not everything that will really matter in my life.

Having said that, I present you with my personal list of the most testing, painful and hellish endurance events in the world.

1. The Badwater 135.
Have you ever run a Marathon? Yes? Ok, Have you ever run a Marathon in the hottest place on earth, during the hottest season? Yes?
Ok, well since you like pain, why not try on the Badwater 135. The Badwater Ultramarathon describes itself as “the world’s toughest foot race”. It is a 135 mile (215 km) course starting at 282 feet (85 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. It takes place annually in mid-July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures over 120 °F (49 °C), even in the shade, are not uncommon. Consequently, very few people—even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this grueling race.
To recap here…no stations or stages, just you and your support vehicle cruising along in hell. These guys/gals actually have to run on the white traffic lines to avoid having the rubber on their running shows melt away.
Anybody want a piece of this?

2.Marathon des Sables
“I love trekking! I go to Mt. Takao every year with my grandmother.”
Thats great kid….why dont you try this on, nice new kit by the way.
It covers 243km/151 miles (in sections similar to 25, 34, 38, 82, 42, 22 km) run over 6 days (7 for some) – equivalent to 5 1/2 regular marathons. That’s a speed of between 3 and 14 km an hour for competitors aged between 16 and 78). In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) on their backs in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag etc). Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint.
Sounds like a bag of fun to me!

3. Ultra-Marathon du Mont Blanc
Any race or event that has the word “du” in it is immediately on my HATE list. Mont Blanc is touted as the toughest foot race in Europe and all though the elevation gains are less than several other races, the secret behind its pain is the lack of switch backs. Competitors are literally going straight up and straight down.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (also referred to as UTMB) is a mountain ultramarathon. It takes place once a year in the Alps, across France, Italy and Switzerland. The distance is approximately 166 km, with a total elevation gain of around 9,400 m. The race is run in one leg. SUCK!

4.Race Across American, RAAM
Tour de France…hey, its serious business, but when measured against the RAAM….C’est le merde.
RAAM is the American answer to Europe’s Tour de France, yet the races differ. Both races’ courses have varied over their history. However, in the Race Across America the direction has always been from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States, approximately 3,000 miles (4800 km) in about a week, making it a transcontinental event. A typical course might be from Oceanside, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. In contrast, the Tour de France is about 2,300 miles and takes about 3 weeks because it covers shorter distances each day. In addition there are no stages, it s a single stage race with checkpoints. Rest, eating and sleeping are handled differently by different riders. Also, drafting is not allowed. Competitors must ride alone. If you know cycling, you know this sucks.
So…sit on a bike seat and ride across a continent as fast as you possibly can, define fun.

5.Primal Quest-Adventure race
I suppose if racing through death valley is a little too monotonous for you, Primal Quest might make you giddy.
Primal Quest is an expedition-length adventure race that has been called one of the most difficult athletic events in the world and is cited as the most prestigious expedition event in North America. The race once featured the largest prize purse in adventure racing, and has been called the Super Bowl of adventure racing. [2] Each race lasts up to ten days, with winning teams completing the course in approximately six days. Each team is required to have four members and must be co-ed.

6.The Ultra-manThere are men and women the world over that spend literally, their entire adult lives trying to train for and qualify to enter the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. It is considered to be the ultimate physical and mental test. Swimming, biking and running. Wow. I am here to tell yea though, Ironman is weak sauce. Welcome to ULTRAMAN.
Stage I – 6.2-mile (10 km) ocean swim from Kailua Bay to Keauhou Bay, followed by a 90-mile (145 km) cross-country bike ride from Keauhou Bay around the southern tip of the island via Route 11 to finish at Namakani Paio Park in the Volcanoes National Park. Vertical climbs total 7,600 feet.

Stage II – 171.4-mi (276 km) bike ride, from Volcanoes National Park (Route 11) to Keaau, then turning east with a counter-clockwise loop through Kalapana, Kapoho and Pahoa, then on through the City of Hilo. From Hilo, the route continues north along the Hamakua Coast (Route 19) to Waimea, and over the Kohala Mountains via Route 250 to finish at the Kohala Village Inn on Hawi Road, just above its junction with Route 270. Vertical climbs total 8,600 feet.

Stage III – 52.4-mile (84 km) double-marathon run from Hawi to Kawaihae (Route 270), then on to Kailua-Kona (via Route 19) and finishing on the beach at the Old Airport State Park.

Time Limits: Each stage must be completed in 12 hours or less. The swim should be completed in 5-1/2 hours or less. Participants not reaching the respective finish lines within the 12 hour limits will be disqualified.

Forget about.   The  best bit is that the purse for winning most of these, aside from Primal Quest, is absurdly small.  People do not do these for fame or money. They do them for intangibles that they themselves understand.

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