This article is brought to you by our friends at Brunton, who create simple and durable navigational compasses that can be used for backpacking, hiking, ultra running, and more.


Some people love to just hang out in the woods. Other people like to run through them for 50-100 miles, collecting blisters, sunburns, bruises, and debilitating exhaustion along the way. Sounds fun, right?



While Type 2 Fun is a surprisingly common goal of outdoor enthusiasts (two of our team members here at The Dyrt trained for a 50K race through Forest Park in Portland) we think these ultra races are particularly nutty.

Maybe you’ll be inspired. Maybe you’ll shake your head in disbelief. Either way, you’re going to be fascinated by these over-the-top ultra running races:

1. The Barkley Marathons, TN

It is not just a 100-mile ultramarathon. No, that would be far too simple. This race is unmarked, unassisted, and must be completed within 60 hours. The Barkley Marathons is inspired by the prison break of an assassin who got lost in the woods. Runners compete deep in Tennessee’s backcountry, where they have to race through mud and hunt for books at unmanned checkpoints. The course, located in Frozen Head State Park, requires runners to crush 60,000-vertical feet in gain and loss. It’s no surprise that since 1986, only 18 people have completed the course before the 60-hour cutoff.

Race if You Dare

2. Badwater 135, CA

This race is hot for a lot of reasons. It starts in the hottest place in the U.S., Death Valley National Park, and during the hottest month of the year, July. Badwater 135 clocks in at, you guessed it: 135 miles, and begins at 279 feet below sea level. Where do you finish? The trailhead at Mount Whitney which lies at 8,360 feet. Throughout the ultra running course, runners face three mountain ranges for a culmination of of 19,000 feet in vertical gain. Temperatures during the race can reach up to 120°, which is why it’s an understatement to say that everything – from your skin, to your lungs, to your calves – will be on fire.

Race if You Dare

3. Hardrock 100, Colorado

Have you ever wanted to explore Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Range? We have, too, but not if it requires running 100.5 miles. The race includes 13 separate instances of climbing above 12,000 feet. The highest point on the course is Handies Peak, which tops out at 14,048, so you can cross ‘summitting a 14er’ off your bucket list while you’re crushing miles. Besides incredibly intense elevation gain, what makes this race different? Instead of crossing the finish line to indicate you’ve completed the race, you must kiss the Hardrock, which is a picture of a ram’s head on a block of stone. Pucker up!

Race if Your Dare

4. The Rut 50K, Montana

The Rut 50K is by far the shortest race on this list, but don’t let those 31 miles fool you. For being on the “shorter” side, this ultra running race packs in the pain with 21,000 feet in elevation change. It is considered to be “extremely steep and technical” since it is highly exposed and runners are at risk of injury from rockfall. Runners will summit Lone Peak, which is famously a part of the Big Sky ski resort. Both the views and the trail are amazing, just be ready to (safely) put the work in.

Run if You Dare

5. Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race, New York

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This is the longest race on the list — by about 3,000 miles — and it’s also the longest in the world. Many runners say that ultra running is transcending. Well, this puts that thought to the ultimate test. Given the distance, you might think that this race starts in New York and finishes in California, but you’d be wrong. The whole race takes place in Queens, on one city block, that you run 5,649 times. The race must be completed within 52 days, which means that runners must average about 59.6 miles a day. Is it feasible? Apparently so, and the experience is sure to be unique.

Run if You Dare

You can win a compass from Brunton, and gear from 20 other outdoor brands, by reviewing campgrounds on The Dyrt. Share past camping experiences, photos, and videos to earn points towards monthly prizes in The 2018 Great Camping Giveaway!


Kristen Byrne

Kristen Byrne

Kristen is a journalist turned digital account manager at The Dyrt. She has worked for various TV stations and newspapers, and now focuses on content creation for tech-loving outdoor enthusiasts. Chances are good she's outside, hiking, climbing, skiing, or exploring. Just know that you can count on her to bring canned wine to the campfire.