In this final instalment of the fitness challenges trio, I look at the hardest fitness challenges on offer. At this stage, you may have completed a marathon, 100-mile bike ride, 5km swim, middle distance triathlon, Tough Mudder Half or the Lake District 24 Peaks and you should give yourself a HUGE pat on the back. None of those challenges are easy and require changes to both your health and lifestyle. It is at this point that you now have the choice to move on to another challenge at the advanced level, or move on to the expert/extreme challenges.

There has been an increase in the participation of highly demanding fitness challenges. If you are interested in the expert or extreme fitness challenges than you will no doubt have some experience in the time and dedication required to complete such a challenge. That said, taking on an expert or extreme challenge will be one step beyond that you are used to. The level of training will increase. Costs will increase and the psychological demand will increase. However, the reward will also increase. If you are interested in the expert and extreme fitness challenges then here is our list.

 

Running

Having possibly completed a marathon, the next step up in the expert level challenge would be the Ultramarathon. This would either take the form of a 50-mile ultramarathon or a 100-mile ultramarathon. The time requirement to train for either would be intense and I would recommend hiring a coach to help reduce the impact on your joints through poor technique.

If you want to take on the toughest running challenges on the market then the extreme challenge would be the next step. This would take on the form of a multi-day event such as the Marathon des Sables or the Jungle Ultra. Both challenges would require a serious investment in training, money and times so should not be taken lightly.

Expert

  • Events: Ultramarathon (50 or 100 miles)
  • Completion times: 50 miles – 6 hours to 13 hours, 100 miles – 16 to 30 hours
  • Training requirements: 20-30 weeks

Extreme

  • Events: Marathon Des Sables or Jungle Ultra
  • Completion times: Seven days
  • Training requirements: 52 weeks (possibly longer)

 

Cycling

As with running, the progression from a one-day, 100-mile bike ride would be a multi-day event. Depending on how ambitious you are will depend on which challenge you decide to tackle. Most multi-day events tend to be five days in length such as the very popular London to Paris bike ride. This can be tackled at 60-80 miles per day and would provide a great entry to multiday cycling challenges. If you wanted to take on the longer, extreme challenges then the iconic Lands’ End to John O’Groats challenge would be challenge of choice. Usual completion time is between 10 and 15 days depending on route.

Expert

  • Events: London to Paris
  • Completion times: Five days
  • Training requirements: 24 weeks

Extreme

  • Events: Lands’ End to John O’Groats
  • Completion times: Two weeks
  • Training requirements: 36 weeks

 

Swimming

Short of doing it in a modified Nissan pickup like the gentlemen at Top Gear, the most eccentric way to cross the English Channel is by swimming. It’s also arguably the most iconic of open water swims, dating back to 1875 when Captain Matthew Webb swam from England to France across the Strait of Dover (20.7 miles, if you stay on course), unassisted, in 21 hours 45 minutes. Today, Channel swimming is tightly regulated because of the high traffic in the Strait and the number of people who want to attempt the swim.

Expert

  • Events: 10-14km Swim
  • Completion times: 120-240 minutes
  • Training requirements: 24 weeks

Extreme

  • Events: Channel Swim
  • Completion times: 10-16 hours
  • Training requirements: 36-52 weeks

 

Triathlon

Moving on from the middle distance or standard distance triathlon you move into the realm of the Ironman’s or Long-distance triathlons. This is one of hardest one-day events in the whole of the sporting universe – just completing the distance inside Ironman’s 17hr cut-off is a massive accomplishment. It involves a 2-mile swim, 100-mile bike ride followed by a marathon. This is within the possibility of the average joe but would take dedication to complete. For anyone who wants to go further, the Double Ironman is on offer, but this would require an extreme level of dedication.

Expert

  • Events: Ironman / Long Distance Triathlon
  • Completion times: 8-17 hours
  • Training requirements: 36 weeks

Extreme

  • Events: Double Ironman
  • Completion times: 16-34 hours
  • Training requirements: 52 weeks

 

Obstacle Race

Toughest Mudder is an 8-hour obstacle course that takes teamwork stamina and mental grit to the extreme—all between the hours of midnight and 8AM. With multiple regions, geographies and hardcore contenders from across the globe – Toughest Mudder is the ultimate challenge for Mudders insane enough to push themselves beyond anything they’ve ever experienced.

Expert

  • Events: Spartan Hurricane Heat or Toughest Mudder
  • Completion times: 8-12 hours
  • Training requirements: 36 weeks

 

Hiking

Building on the advanced hiking challenge, the expert hiking challenge is the Three Peaks Challenge. The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland, often within 24 hours and requires both high levels of fitness, planning and mental strength. If you want to be a little more adventurous with your climbing then a climb such as Mount Elbrus could be for you. At over 5000m it stands as the tallest mountain in Europe and is no mean feat to summit.

Expert

  • Events: Three Peaks Challenge
  • Completion times: 24 hours
  • Training requirements: 36 weeks

Extreme

  • Events: Mount Elbrus Climb (or other 5000m+ climb)
  • Completion times: Three days
  • Training requirements: 36 weeks

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