You might have heard about Kilian Jornet recently. He decided that he was some kind of superhuman and that climbing Mount Everest twice in one week was easy stuff. He didn’t even think he needed Oxygen, just his two legs, a running route, and the ability to go do it. Needleless to say, a lot of people were a bit sceptical. So, he went and did it. It took him just 17 hours.
Well, unfortunately, we’re not all gifted with his superhuman abilities of endurance. And whilst we would like to think we could do that, the fact is that we would probably end up on the wrong end of the life spectrum. However, there is hope! Sure, we may not be able to get Everest done in 17 hours, but there are a lot of pretty impressive high endurance running routes which we can do (maybe in more than 17 hours).
So, for those of you looking to try something others might say is impossible, I’ve found a couple of places you might just want to give a try using as your running route (after some training, of course). Just don’t forget to do a proper stretching before each run.
McKenzie River Trail – Oregon, US
The McKenzie River Trail is short at only 25 miles, and is, without a doubt, the easiest running route on this list. It’s not that it isn’t tough, it is, but it’s definitely not as tough as those you’re going to see next.
However, if you’re looking for a route which really is just incredibly beautiful, then the McKenzie River Trail is the right place for you. Running next to the river is definitely mentally stimulating, and helps to keep your pace up. Every year, locals hold a 50k run next to the river and down the trail. Check it out if you think you’ve got what it takes.
Table Mountain – South Africa
Located in Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain is a feat whilst walking, let alone running. Whilst Table Mountain might not be the most extreme running route on this list, that doesn’t mean that it is anything to laugh at. The 1085-meter ascent is attempted daily by hikers, who take around one or two hours to finish. If you think you’ve got what it takes to make it running, give it a go.
A few years ago, a record was set for running up and down the mountain by a man named Calitz. He managed to go up and down 14 .5 times in 12 hours. That is just unbelievable. If you’re really serious about doing the run, make sure to brace yourself with some good gear and by that I mean some high-quality apparel. You will need shoes that are very durable, relatively new but worn long enough to ensure they fit your feet well. Your tops should reflect the weather and the attitude, so you might want to check the forecast properly.
Ben Nevis – Scotland
Ben Nevis: the highest peak in the whole of the British Isles. It’s no small accomplishment to climb to the top whilst walking the majority of it, so running up there is going to require a lot of effort. It’s not just the height, but the weather as well. Scotland isn’t the sunniest of places, and the wind can just cut through you, especially at the top. However, the view is incredible.
If you really want to take it to the max, then what’s called the Charlie Ramsay Round takes place here. This is an endurance test of over 60 miles, which needs to be completed in under 24 hours. During the 60-mile trek/race, you’ll be expected to cover all the 3,000+ ft peaks encircling Ben Nevis itself. To date, only 74 runners have managed to complete it officially.
If you’re thinking of giving it a go, make sure that you’re ready for the altitude and the distance. It needs a lot of training and a lot of discipline. It might just be better to cover only a few of those peaks instead.
Badwater – USA/Brazil
Badwater is a non-stop 135-mile running route through Death Valley and onwards to an ascent up Mount Whitney. This run is no joke, with many runners often failing due to dehydration, exhaustion, and even delirium. You’ll be running through some of the hottest parts of America. Seriously, they’re incredibly hot. Sometimes temperatures have been known to rise to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s enough to make a person collapse from walking, or your shoes melt. If you’re going to do this, make sure you have someone nearby who will be able to pick you up if it gets too much and drink plenty of water.
If you would like to know more about pushing thought the pain and how it impacts your body, you can checkout my article about pain cave. There included an interview with David Goggin’s which is known for running the Badwater Marathon.
Antarctic Ice Marathon – Antarctica
Ok, so this running route is also pretty extreme. It might even be up there with Everest. But seeing as how I was surprised to see that it actually exists, I thought I would put it in here. As the world’s Southernmost ‘marathon’.
Expect the temperatures to be cold, and the wind to be biting. It’s estimated that the wind factor here is around 10 to 25 mph and the temperature generally between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not a marathon for the faint of heart, but it is located in one of the most exciting places in the world.
Of course, if you’re thinking of starting this running course, you’ll need to make it to Antarctica first (which is expensive). You’ll then need to make your way to a glacier camp at the foot of what is known as the Ellsworth Mountains. From here, you’re probably going to have to wait around for a while, because the weather in Antarctica can be so uncertain, the start of the race is usually delayed.
Don’t worry though, if you can’t complete the course then you’re always able to get picked up by a snowmobile. In fact, you’ll have to be after 5 days because being exposed to Antarctica’s weather for much longer than that can cause some serious long-term damage. Good luck!
As a runner, it is critical to be able to listen to your body. Look for symptoms of exhaustion, and if noticed in the early stage, you can prevent them and lower their negative impact on your training and body.
30 thoughts on “5 Killer Running Routes: Physically Exhausting and Mentally Stimulating”
Wow! These runs sound incredible and I’m definitely no where near fit enough for any of them! I’m working on building up to a 15km at the end of this month…
Some people really are superhuman 😀
A guy at my work recently took part in a 69 mile run along Hadrian’s Wall which took him just under 17 hours.
I love that you’ve found places from all over the world – great post!
Thanks for your kind words, Rachel! 😉
I’ve been to Table Mountain and it is just stunning. I would love to go running there sometime! Thanks for sharing these killer running route ideas
That must have been an awesome experience, Katherine! 🙂
These runs sound amazing. I’d love to visit each place. It’s great inspiration to imagine running in all the best places.
You’re right, Lisa. These places are a great inspiration! 🙂
I am th furthest thing from superhuman lol. How long to just walk these. They are stunnig or incredible for the setting though! I am really startting to wan tto go to Capetown so may start there lol.
Haha, Evelyne! The setting is stunning, indeed! 😉
Whoa – did you take all of these photos? They are so epic!
The last one is mine. It was taken in the Maldives. Awesome view, isn’t?
Yay! I started reading this post and was thinking “I wonder if Agness will put the Ben Nevis run in this post” and you did! Brilliant!
I’ve climbed Ben Nevis 3 or 4 times now, and indeed have a post written about it on my blog. I’ve seen people running it too. But I think I prefer to climb it though! 😉
Loved reading about all the other running routes. There’s a lot of people out there far more braver then me! 😀
I’m glad I fulfilled your expectations, Neil! 🙂
Awesome post dear. I’d love to visit each place. You inspire me. I need to get fit and start brisk walking and running soon. 🙂
Thanks a lot, Ritu! I appreciate it! 😉
Those runs sound wonderful! Not for me, for you. I’ll wait for your pictures for when you do it. 😀 Fun read — thanks.
Thanks, John! 😉
Having just hiked up Table Mountain the idea of running it seems well beyond my capabilities! I ran my first and only marathon at age 50 so I think a lot is possible when one develops a passion. The run up Mt Everest though that is for super humans!
I completely agree that passion is very important, Sue!
Love these places and your motivation! Great post!
Thanks a lot, Mira! 😉
Wow, the pictures are awesome. These routes look incredible.
Glad you like them, Sheryl! 🙂
superhuman i am not, so i’d be happy just to walk these routes, especially table mountain!
I hope you get to walk them soon, Grace! 🙂
What a great list. The views are amazing!
Thanks a lot, Lorraine! 😉
all of these look gorgeous! i’m used to hikes that are super convenient and close to my house, but they’re not jaw-dropping like the ones you have here. also, running?! i did mount whitney a couple of years ago, and it was hard enough trudging up, much less running!
Mount Whitney must have been fun and a unique experience, Heather! 🙂
These all look like such amazing places, great list!
Thanks a bunch! 😉