Races are supposed to be fun (we guess), or at the very least they aren't supposed to kill you, so you're free to have fun after completing them. These races, however, make no such promises in either department.
#5. Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces for the sole purpose of beating your ass for charity. The obstacles can vary from location to location (our favorite is the "turd's nest," which we assume refers to when a McDonald's employee loses her hair weave in the toilet), but some of the standard ones include running through fire:
Falling off of greased monkey bars into freezing water:
Somehow, this is a contest.
#4. Antarctica Ice Marathon
The Antarctica Ice Marathon is essentially what would happen if Forrest Gump were seriously betrayed by MapQuest in his search for Superman and/or Santa Claus.
In addition to the 42-kilometer marathon, runners can treat themselves to a 100-kilometer circuit race and a climb of the tallest mountain on the continent (which the website stresses must occur immediately after the marathon). For a mere $15,000, participants can experience the utter desolation of a frozen wasteland and the serious risk of frostbite and exposure, all for the privilege of becoming an obscure trivia question.
#3. Marathon des Sables
The Marathon des Sables is a 10-day, 240-kilometer race across the sands of Morocco, although it is unclear whether the competitors are battling to see who can reach the finish line first or to see whose corpse will mummify the quickest after they inevitably die of extreme dehydration due to sprinting across a goddamn desert for two goddamn weeks. The official website is light on details, though they assure us that there are separate ranking tiers for both women and people in their 70s.
Don't let that fool you -- this race isn't for feebs (or feebettes). One guy almost got crushed by boulders (which apparently are a thing in the desert), and another man wandered the boiling dunes for nine days after getting lost in a sandstorm.
#2. Valparaiso Cerro Abajo
The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo is a bike race in Chile that combines off-road antics with a childlike understanding of the permanence of life. The vaguely marked track takes competitors down staircases, off balconies, across walls and occasionally just out into the goddamned air.
The event, which you can watch here, draws a crowd of thousands every year, and countless injuries result not from the crazy obstacles, but from riders crashing into those crowds like some Final Destination Mountain Dew commercial.
#1. Green River Narrows Kayak Race
The Green River Narrows Kayak Race in North Carolina takes a bunch of lunatics strapped into boats and sends them down a Class V whitewater course with absolutely no emergency crews or formal organization of any kind. The only requirement to participate is that you sign a liability waiver, because drowning, paralysis and/or horrible disfigurement are all about as likely as actually finishing the race. Despite the horribly unbalanced risk/reward ratio involved, the race draws expert kayakers from around the world.
People frequently lose control, get turned around or flip over, which is bad when you're in a rampaging current with rock shelves waiting just beneath the surface to turn your helmet into a bowl of soup.
Quick! Gabe would appreciate it if you checked out his friends' band. When Kier isn't bailing water out of his kayak, he has a blog here and a Twitter here. They'd also both like to thank Jamie Flexman for his help in researching this.