Going the distance: 10 Middle Eastern ultramarathons for the extreme athlete

Published April 10th, 2014 - 01:06 GMT

Want to see the Middle East landscape from a new perspective?! How about running...hundreds of kilometers through it?

Millions of tourists make the trek to the region every year to sun themselves on the shores of North Africa or the Red Sea, but a select few come for a slightly different reason: to participate in some of the most grueling road races on the planet, and what extreme athletes refer to as “ ultramarathons”. 

Morocco kicked off its annual Marathon of the Sands (Marathon de Sables) this week, which is now considered the toughest race on earth as it challenges runners to cover 250km in six days through the Sahara desert. If that is not enough to make you sweat, participants carry all of their gear with them on the trek as well!

Other MENA countries feature similar ultra-challenges through the sands with races as long as 285km in Oman and 160km in Egypt’s White Desert. In the UAE and Algeria, ultra athletes can take on a rocky challenge in the countries’ mountain ranges. 

And we thought Bedouins and camels had it hard!

Your MENA trip is sure to be an ultra-memorable one (in both the mind and sore body!) after taking on one of the region’s ultramarathon offerings! Take a stroll (no need to race just yet!) through this slideshow that highlights some of the region’s best ultras – offerings for the extreme athlete – and for those who may like to rise to the challenge in the future!

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