Monday, January 19, 2009

World's Toughest Sporting Events

I came across this list while trawling through sites on a slow day at work. These are some of the most grueling sporting events in the world today that tests human and sometimes animal endurance to their limit.

Select the title for more details from Wiki.

1. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
This takes the number one spot, although it's the dogs that do all the hard work. Heavily criticized by Animal rights activists, this annual sled dog race in Alaska covers a distance of 1868 km, in about 8 - 15 days. It takes place in the dead of winter in midst of sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds and blizzards, where wind chill can go down to about -75C. The current fastest time to finish the race was 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, and 2 seconds in 2002. The mushers use a sled with a team of 16 dogs.

2. Dakar Rally
The king of all off-road rally races, it covered a route from Paris France to Dakar in Senegal, although the actual route varied in different years. However this year it has gone away from Africa and moved to South America, due to security problems in the African continent. This time it goes from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Valparasion, Chile and back to Buenos Aires, and covers a total distance of 9574km in 15 days. The race is currently on, which started on the 03rd of January and will end on the 18th of January.

More details at official Dakar Rally 2009 site

3. Vendee Globe
Not for the faint of heart, this is an around the world solo yacht race. Starting and ending in the port town of Les Sables-d'Olonne, France. The route goes down the Atlantic ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope and clockwise around the Antarctic, and back again to France. Like the Olympics, this is also held every four years from November to February, and the 2008/2009 race is currently under way.

4. Marathon des Sables
Also known as the "Marathon of the Sands", it is what is known as an ultramarathon, a marathon that is longer than the traditional 42km. This is a six day marathon that covers a distance of 254km, held every year in the southern Moroccan desert. As a bonus the runners must also carry their personal belongings and food in backpacks, while water and tents are supplied by the organizers.

5. Grand National Steeplechase
A four mile steeplechase run with 30 fences to jump, with some of the hardest jumps in any race. This is also one of the oldest of the lot, running for about 162 years. Here again, most of the work is done by the horses and there have been 57 equine fatalities, which makes it another hot event animal rights activists are trying to ban.

6. Tour de France
No introduction necessary on this one. A 3500km cycle race through France covered in 23 days, since 1903.

7. 24 Hours of LeMans
Dubbed the Grand Prix of Endurance, This is a motor race which goes on non-stop for 24 hours, where the focus is on the reliability of the car, in addition to the speed. It’s run in the small town of Le Mans in France, since 1923. In the early days there was no rule regarding the number of drivers per car, but now the rule is that no one driver can drive consecutively for 4 hours and no driver can run for 14 hours total, so now the team usually consists of 3 drivers.

As for the cars that won, Porsche takes the top spot with 15 wins, Ferrari in second with 9 wins, and Audi third with 8 wins. As a matter of fact, Audi has won it for the last 5 years straight.

List of winners

8. Ironman Triathlon
Triathlon consisting of 3.9km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42.2 km marathon run. It is held annually since 1973 in Hawaii.

9. Atlantic Rowing Race
This is an ocean rowing race covering a distance of 4700km, from the Canary Islands to the West Indies, started in 1997, with races held every two years.

10. Decathlon
Two days completion in 10 track and field events, which includes:
100 meters, 110m hurdles, Long jump, shot put, High jump, 400 meters, Discus, Pole vault, Javelin and the 1500 meters.

All these extreme sporting events test the limits of human endurance and stamina, and all the men and women who take part can be considered the best sportspeople in the world. Maybe even superhuman when compared to the rest of us.

I personally think that the Iditarod and the Grande National takes a more toll on the animals, but mushers and the jockeys have their fair share of pain as well.

To all those who have participated in these event, YOU ROCK!!!

Image Credits

1. Iditarod Dog Sled Race -
2. Dakar Rally -
3. Vendee Globe Solo -
4. Marathon des Sables -
5. Grand National -
6. Tour de France -
7. 24 Hours of LeMans -
8. Ironman -
9. Atlantic Rowing Race -
10. Decathlon -


Jerry said...

I drove the Le Mans many times!

..Of course, it was condensed to about 20 minutes and it was on Racedriver: GRID.

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