Trade in your walking shoes for some trainers next time you go see one of the world's most awesome wonders. Great adventures give you a lot to remember, but the greatest give you something to train for.
Adventure marathons and ultra marathons aren't just for lifelong runners; they're for anyone looking to put a challenge back into places that have become all too easy to see. Why walk the Inca Trail when you can run it? Who needs a walking safari when you can marathon right though one. And what's the big deal about hiking one of the most dangerous mountain trails in the world when there's a race that dashes right up it?
The running events that follow all have one thing in common — they reconfigure the stage for the world's most amazing destinations from being mere adventures, into the footraces of a lifetime. You don't have to be a professional runner to enter, though some here would be challenging to the most adept athlete. You just need to channel the tireless spirit of Shackleton, a good pair of sneakers and, as Christopher McDougall writes in Born to Run, "you'd better be fearless."
Grand to Grand Ultra, USA
Who: 120 runners
When: September 21, 2014 and 2015
Why it's unique: Run, don't walk (or drive) from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, on a mostly sandy path, past remote hoodoos and buttes, though a tributary of the Virgin River, and at least one isolated slot canyon until finally you reach the top of the Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase. It's a six-stage, mostly self-sufficient seven day course – 170-miles in total, where you're camping each night, and required to pack and carry all the food and clothing you'll need. Even with a night's rest between stages, 15 percent of entrants drop out before the finish line. [g2gultra.com]
Credit: Mark Hannaford / Getty Images