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."
Jungle Marathon, Brazil
Who: 80 runners
When: October 2, 2014 and October 1, 2015
Why it's unique: Choose your pain: the marathon, four-stage, 78-mile ultra, or the six-stage, 158-mile ultra. No matter which, the race requires you to run with a pack (bring your own hammock if you're doing an ultra) though the mud, over steep inclines where you're basically pulling yourself up, and swimming across rivers while battling heat and humidity and facing the feral dangers of the Brazilian Amazon – it's not uncommon to find large snakes and every year a few runners spot a panther. A medical certificate is required. [junglemarathon.com]