15 Outdoor Challenges for 2017

15 Challenges for 2017

If there's one way to counteract the festive food coma and January slump it’s an extreme outdoor challenge. But with so many on offer where do you choose to test your mettle and battle against the elements? Lucky for you we’ve compiled a list of fifteen outdoor challenges for 2017 that will let you leave your comfort zone miles behind you - literally. 


While the name might sound like an 80s death metal band this biking adventure is actually the world’s largest mass-start mountain bike event — 2500 cyclists get involved every July. You’ll be biking over glaciers reaching over 10,000 ft, through alps and cross country. There’s a real sense of camaraderie as you and your comrades traverse often brutal ice and snow. www.ucc-sportevent.com/en/megavalanche-alpe-dhuez-en


If you’re a mountain biker Crankworx is your Mecca. Hosted in four locations across the world, the organisers dub it ‘the defining celebration of world-class mountain biking’. If you’re not at the top of your game you can learn tips from the pros and have a go on the beginner trails or push yourself on intermediate routes. It’s about celebrating the sport itself. www.crankworx.com


Races don’t always involve clocking up airmiles. In January the Highlands of Scotland host Strathpuffer, a gruelling 24 hour mountain bike ride which will see you experience multiple terrains and - knowing Scotland - every possible season. Over a decade old, the event was included in US Bike Magazine’s Top 10 Toughest Mountain Bike Challenges. There’s even a kids version! https://strathpuffer.co.uk/strathpuffer-24

Marathon des Sables

A marathon in every sense of the word, this 155 mile race through the Sahara is such a challenge winners are declared at every numerous stage. Your health and safety in these heats and sandstorms are of the upmost importance and overseen by organisers. Interested? Expect to have to sign up over two years in advance for this immensely popular experience. marathondessables.co.uk

Jungle Ultra 

If you’re looking for a unique, unpredictable extreme challenge with an unforgettable backdrop look no further. This 143 mile, 5 stage Peruvian trek is an assault on the senses as well as the body and mind. Carrying your belongings, you’ll join jungle critters in boiling temperatures and high humidity that we sincerely hope doesn’t have you shouting “I’m a runner, get me out of here!” www.beyondtheultimate.co.uk/jungle-ultra

Kalahari Augrabies

Eighteen years old, Kalahari Augrabies is a 250 km, week long extreme desert marathon held in October. The self-sufficient trek is known as the ‘Big Daddy’ of South African running and carries serious kudos. Shortlisted for Best International Event in the UK Running Awards 2017, this is an organised, structured affair great for an intrepid explorer ready for a challenge. kaem.co.za

North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc

166km long at a maximum height of 9500km this race is not for those afraid of heights. Participants are a mixture of athletes and runners, teams and individuals. But don’t get complacent - it’s hailed as the most challenging foot race in Europe and is ultra competitive for those to put their mind to it - no gazing at the views here! utmbmontblanc.com/en

6633 Ultra

British Winter just not enough for you? Head to Yukon, Canada to take part in the 560km 6693 Ultra race. Arctic temps, icy winds and a casual blizzard or two are part and parcel of this adventure. Did we mention you’ll be dragging your belongings in a sled behind you? And only 11 people have ever completed the course. Good luck! www.6633ultra.com

Tough Mudder

The infamous 12 mile hardcore obstacle race which takes place in multiple locations in the UK, US, China, Ireland and more, is a real badge of honour for the extreme adrenalin junkie. More of a beginner? The 5 mile version might be more up your street. Not keen to go it alone? You can also join up in a team and for morale support and a bit of fun! toughmudder.co.uk

Spartan Race

These obstacle races take place across almost every continent and offer open heats for all abilities and will let you know where you place in global rankings! There are three types of race: sprint, super and beast (we’ll let you work them out for yourself) as well as a junior race - so if fitness runs in the family you can take your kids along. www.spartanrace.uk/en

Great Himalaya Trail

Got around 150 days free this year? The Great Himalaya Trail will have you travelling 1700 km through the world’s highest mountain range. This route is actually a work in progress, so you’ll be getting involved in the race in its early years, testing your fitness and seeing a unique part of the world. www.greathimalayatrails.com

Escape from Alcatraz

This one might seem like a gimmick but one look at the spec of this race will have you thinking differently. Thousands of triathletes journey to San Fransisco to begin with a swim from the banks of the eponymous maximum-security prison only to be faced with a gruelling bike ride and run over 30km. www.escapealcatraztri.com


Established in 1922, Vasaloppet is the world’s oldest, longest and biggest cross-country ski race. Participants tackle 90km but you’ll be spurred on by the spectacular landscape and the knowledge that over two million Swedish viewers are watching from the comfort of their own home. This isn’t one for beginners but if you’re a brave, talented skier it’s definitely one to consider. www.vasaloppet.se/en

Land’s End to John O’Groats

If you’re a keen rider who also wants to raise money for a great cause, this cycle race is for you. You’ll be journeying the furthest possible distance in the British Isles and will experience the diverse and beautiful landscape our country has to offer. The 13 day endurance test is promised to be one of the most rewarding sporting experiences of its kind. www.discoveradventure.com/challenges/land-s-end-to-john-o-groats-cycle

Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

The name says it all — this Norwegian race isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s one of the world’s toughest triathlons. 4km swim? Check. Bike ride through the mountains? Obviously. Marathon? Of course. This adventure brings a whole new meaning to “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” — the first 160 finalists or ‘Norsemen’ are awarded black tees. Everyone else is sent away with white t-shirts. nxtri.com


Whatever race you try you’re sure to come away with an amazing adrenalin high, bags of motivation and a sure sense of accomplishment. Not to mention bragging rights with your friends for… well until they get bored at least! Which will be pretty quickly. Get in touch if you need insurance.

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