People have tested the limits of human endurance throughout history. We live in the most comfortable of times and now that the whole planet has been mapped there’s not much left to discover, but we still have the need to test ourselves, hence the phenomenal growth in extreme sports. Swide chooses for you the top 5 extreme sports events around the world.
The X Games, LA, USA
The first X Games was held in 1995 on Rhode Island the event has grown to become the premier extreme sports showcase in the world. The Summer X Games take place this year in Los Angeles from June 28th to July 1st. Events include variations on motocross, rally, skateboarding and BMX. The competition often features first-time executed tricks such as Tony Hawke’s 900 in skateboarding, Anthony Napolitan’s first double front flip on a bicycle, Travis Pastana’s double backflip in freestyle motocross. This year BMX will feature in the Summer Olympic Games in London for the first time so the question remains, will the X Games be ultimately absorbed by the Olympics? Not if competition organisers SPN have anything to do with it. They recently announced plans for global expansion naming Barcelona Spain, Munich Germany and Foz do Iguacçu, Brazil to host X Games along with Los Angeles, Aspen and Tignes to form a six-event calendar.
Badwater Ultramarathon, California, USA
The punishing course starting at Badwater Basin in California’s Death Valley to the Whitney Portal, the trail head to Mount Whitney takes in 217 km, in mid July when the temperatures can reach 49° C in the shade. This year’s event takes place from July 16-18. Starting at 85 metres below sea level and rising to an elevation of 2548metres above sea level it is a gruelling uphill struggle, which has the name of ‘toughest footrace in the world’. Very few people, even among ultramarathoners can finish the race and it would be considered suicide for mere mortals to attempt it.
24 Hours of Le Mans, Le Mans, France
The legendary 24-hour race is the ‘Grand Prix’ of car endurance racing. It is the oldest active race of its kind and commands a fanatical following. The challenges of the race involve managing the technical stresses on the car particularly the engine, tires and brakes over the course of 24 hours non-stop racing. The driving is shared among the three-man team. This year the race takes place from the 16th -17th June and is the race’s 80th edition. Over 200,000 people are expected to attend the Friday night parade held before the race.
Hell’s Gate, Tuscany, Italy
Amidst the quiet rolling hills of Tuscany is hidden the world’s toughest enduro race. While many flock to Tuscany for it’s breath-taking views, it’s food and its history, there a group of thrill seekers who come to test themselves and their off-road bikes to the limit. Started by legendary Italian Fabio Fasola Hell’s Gate really is the top test for all enduro racers held every year in February International Centre of Il Ciocco, on the Tuscan Appennino. It’s a savage wilderness where all kinds of crazy tracks can be designed. In 2010 only 2 of the 103 participants crossed the line at the finish. Although only going since 2004 it is very much secure in the calendar of extreme sports events.
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race – Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, USA
Billed as ‘the last great race’, every year teams mushers and their team of 12-16 dogs race along the Iditarod Trail, a distance of 1,850 km in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Before World War Two and the advent of the light aircraft, dog teams were the primary system of transport in the Tundra of North America and Scandinavia. Indeed the tradition is alive and well today, and since 1973, the Iditarod Trail has been the world’s most important event in dog racing attracting the best from al lover the world. The trail follows an old supply route and re-enacts a dash, from Anchorage to Nome, made by a team of 20 mushers and 150 dogs in 1923, to deliver an antiserum for a diphtheria outbreak. The terrain is extremely difficult with plunging temperatures and daylight that last only a few hours.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty