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Toughest Multi-Sport Races



Merely mastering a single sport is a tough enough challenge for most of us, so you have to applaud those extremely resourceful athletes who have the steel to pursue multisport challenges. The fresh air, mixed terrain trials of versatility and endurance all come together in perfect, multi-sport harmony.

Here are the most difficult races that mix several, sometimes surprisingly different, athletic disciplines.

Peak To Peak

The Peak To Peak multisport challenge runs between two stunning New Zealand South Island landmarks: the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. The point-to-point team race, slated for July 21, challenges each contestant to handle four different sports: skiing or snowboarding, cycling, kayaking and running, whatever the weather. The Peak 2 Peak course winds over a varied landscape featuring snow-covered mountains, steep roads laid with gravel and tarmac, ski fields, state highways and two lakes: Wakatipu and Hayes. According to Peak 2 Peak’s organizers, the “very fast paced” race is characterized by “intense organized chaos.” Picture support crews picking up sweaty gear, athletes clambering to grab their team bibs and officials desperately trying to log racers’ numbers as they rush through transitions between the two peaks.

Norfolk Superhero Challenge

The Norfolk Superhero Challenge is trumpeted as “a unique quadrathlon.” The four-sport team event is held in a coastal eastern England county which served as the stage for an epic anti-Roman revolt led by heroic queen Boudicca. The Norfolk Superhero Challenge kicks off with a 1-mile swim, followed by a 4-mile kayaking race then a 45-mile circular bike race along what are supposedly North Norfolk’s most scenic roads. Finally, entrants embark on a gruelling 8-mile run across tracks, sand, mud and marsh. Over 100 adventure athletes pursued the challenge that ran on June 23 this year.

“There are some real professionals who do it, and I think me and my friend realized pretty quickly we were among the amateurs,” a competitor told the local newspaper, EDP 24. The competitor’s name: Major Will Leek. A “Light Dragoon” bound for Afghanistan just after the challenge.

“The swim was pretty windy and quite choppy. It was quite cold and the choppy bit made breathing difficult,” Major Leek added.

Upper Murray Challenge

Constrained to a day, the Upper Murray Challenge unfolds in Australia. The location: the foothills west of Mount Kosicuszko, which stands in the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales. Mount Kosicuszko soars 2,228m above sea level, making it the nation’s highest mountain. Likewise, the degree of difficulty that the Upper Murray Challenge presents is steep. This year, the marathon event for individuals and relay teams kicks off at 8am on Saturday, October 6 in the main street of Khancoban: a country village on the Snowy Mountains’ western slopes. During the initial 38km cycling stage of the challenge, competitors zoom over hilly forest trails, 4-wheel-drive tracks and open paddocks in and around Khancoban. Next comes a 26km kayaking race across the atmospherically named Swampy Plains River. Watch out for “turbulent eddies.” The final 25km run starts softly, over a gently rolling dirt road offering dazzling views over the Murray River flats. At the end of the Upper Murray Challenge, competitors face “a grueling and at times very steep climb” that stretches for 500 meters before the final, exhilarating valley descent.

Northern Crossing Multisport Challenge

Because of its crisp air and seemingly immeasurable space, New Zealand is a great venue for extreme sports of all kinds. The Northern Crossing Multisport Challenge unfolds in one of the most remote parts of the far country: Northland – the northernmost of New Zealand’s administrative regions. The next Northern Crossing Multisport Challenge, in 2013, will kick off with an 8km run. Then comes an optional 18km kayak race. Then an 81km bike ride for non-kayakers or a 74km one for kayakers. Finally, a second 8km run. Just to pump up the challenge, the organizers impose maximum times for each leg. Do you think you could handle the pressure? Here is the schedule: Run One (8km) – 1 hour 25 minutes; Kayak (18km) – 2 hours 30 minutes; Cycle One (81km) – 3 hours 45 minutes; Cycle Two (74km) – 3 hours 25 minutes; Run Two (8km) – 1 hour 25 minutes. Watch out for the “confused and agitated cows” that obstructed runners this year.

Marysville To Melbourne

Here’s yet another multisport event set in the depths of the southern hemisphere. Welcome to Marysville 2 Melbourne. The event claiming to be Australia’s “pre-eminent” multisport race starts in Victoria’s regional heartland and ends in the middle of the state’s capital, Melbourne. During the race, competitors engage in trail running, road cycling and flatwater paddling. According to the organizers, the Marysville 2 Melbourne will test amateurs and experts alike as they strive to cover 155 km in just one day, amid lovely scenery. Think temperate rainforest with towering tree ferns lining the trail. Think undulating hills and eucalypt bushland offering “snapshot” views of the city. On the final paddle, you head down the peaceful Yarra River through parkland and wilderness before coming on the high rises and café strips of Southbank and the Docklands finish line. The picturesque exercise in endurance is presented by a charity called The Difference, which works to support the disadvantaged.

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