“Familiarity breeds contempt”, as the saying goes. Doing the same things over and over can lead some to a life of apathy, but what of those that dare to dream bigger than whatâ€™s expected of them? Of course, traveling is in itself a life of adventure and a brave step to breaking down routine scenarios, yet there are events and challenges around the world that will test your nerve in ways you never thought possible.
“The Zombie Apocalypse is taking over America!,” proclaims the organizers of the Zombie Race, though thankfully these zombies are friendlier than the ones seen in Dawn of the Dead. The aim of this fitness event is to finish a race while dodging and ducking from zombies attempting to steal three flags tied to your waist. Started in 2013, the Zombie Race features obstacles (other than zombies) such as mud traps, barbed wire, and steep climbs to overcome. The event is generally light-hearted overall and is for young and old alike, with no more than 10 miles to run.
The race I did was muddy, uphill and involved a lot of sprinting but it was incredibly fun albeit pretty tiring. Hereâ€™s me narrowly escaping!
Commercialized in the popular 2007 movie 300 (“This is madness!” “THIS IS SPARTA!”), Spartan warriors were known as the strongest of the strong and resilient to the end. Originating in the USA, the Spartan Race has been turning ordinary folk into warriors since 2010. The obstacle race is held all over North America, but is also possible to attend in many other countries across the world, including China, Australia, and parts of Europe. The Spartan Race has even been televised by NBC sports and is now sponsored by Reebok.
Similar to other fitness events such as Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash, competitors can choose between different length races (from three miles to over 25 miles) and will encounter a string of challenging obstacles, including crawling under barbed wire, wall climbs, tire flipping, spear throwing, as well as carrying heavy objects such as logs or sandbags over long distances. Not everything is so serious however, as charity races and events for children are also held.
The official site does a good job of giving fitness tips and tutorials to be a Spartan, but itâ€™s also worth looking into a company like this, who provide home gym equipment for body strengthening and toning, if youâ€™re interested in competing.
In fact, an article from Brittany Fowler in Business Insider completely sums the spirit of the Spartan Race â€“ basically that anyone with a strong spirit can compete, no matter how they appear on the outside.
“I like to wear dresses, get manicures, and do Spartan Races that leave me covered in bruises,” she says. “Coated in dirt, caked-on mud, and sweat, I jumped over fire, landed in a pool of murky water, and crossed the finish line. With sediment nestled in every crevice of my body and a Spartan medal hanging from my neck, a feeling of accomplishment surged through me. I survived. And though I was left covered in bruises, bug bites, and scrapes, I would do it all over again tomorrow.”
Claims of the ‘the worldâ€™s toughest endurance race’ donâ€™t come lightly. There are many around the globe which could hold a candle to this, but the Jungle Marathon in the mighty Amazon Rainforest may just take the title. Held every year in October, runners of the Jungle Marathon can pick either a standard 26-mile marathon, a gruelling 75 miles in four stages, or a mind-boggling 157 miles in six stages. Participants are mostly by themselves and carry food and provisions in a pack, although water is provided at certain checkpoints by race officials.
Due to the length of the race, contestants sleep in hammocks between stages, but this marathon isnâ€™t by any means in a controlled environment. This is still a race in a living forest that includes swamps, snakes, spiders, poisonous plants, and close to unbearable heat and humidity. Course directions and a medical team are present of course, but nevertheless, this event is as far away from being ‘a walk in the park’ as humanly possible.