Ultimate Ultra-Marathons to Challenge Finishers of the Marathon des Sables.

2014 – A very happy finisher!


After finishing the legendary Marathon des Sables, I wondered, “What’s next?” and suppose most Marathon des Sables finishers feel the same. So, in this article, I will introduce you to a selection of ultra-marathons that will test your limits beyond the Marathon des Sables. From the Jungle Ultra to the Spine Race, these races offer unique experiences that will challenge your endurance and reward you with unforgettable memories.

Beyond the Ultimate: The Global Race Series

Beyond the Ultimate’s Global Race Series comprises four extreme races, each set in a distinct and challenging environment: the Jungle Ultra, the Desert Ultra, the Mountain Ultra, and the Ice Ultra. As a finisher of the Jungle Ultra and the Desert Ultra, I can attest to these races’ unique challenges and experiences. Click here to learn more.

The Jungle Ultra: Exploring the Iconic Amazon Jungle

The Jungle Ultra is a 230 km race set in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. This ultra-marathon will push your limits as you navigate river crossings, steep ascents, and descents in extreme humidity. The humidity, dense vegetation, and wildlife encounters make it a thrilling and unforgettable challenge. A Jungle Ultra participant, James Fullerton shared his experience: “The Jungle Ultra was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The humidity, the dense vegetation, and the wildlife encounters made it a thrilling and unforgettable challenge.”

Mud splattered in the dense Amazon Jungle – photo credit Mikel Beisener

The Desert Ultra: Race in the World’s Oldest Desert

If you’re looking for a desert ultra with a notoriously low finish rate, consider Beyond the Ultimate’s Desert Ultra in Namibia. This 250 km race across the Namib Desert will test your resilience in scorching temperatures and unforgiving sand dunes. Kristina Madsen, a Desert Ultra finisher, revealed: “The heat and the vastness of the desert were humbling. But crossing the finish line after such a gruelling challenge made it all worthwhile.”

Just a tiny spec in the vast and ancient desert – photo credit Mikel Beisener

The Mountain Ultra: Conquering the Unexplored Majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains Range

The Mountain Ultra is a 220 km race in Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan mountain range. This race will test your endurance as you traverse steep slopes, snow-capped peaks, and pristine alpine lakes. It’s not just a race but a journey into the heart of some of the most remote and unexplored areas on earth.

Valley of Dreams, Kyrgyzstan – Photo credit, Albert Dros

The Ice Ultra: Battle Across Snowfields, Arctic Tundra and Frozen Lakes

The Ice Ultra is a 230 km race that takes you through the frozen landscapes of Swedish Lapland. This race offers a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of historic polar and Arctic explorers while navigating snow-covered forests and frozen lakes. Damian Hall said of the Ice Ultra, “The scenery was just so beautiful. You couldn’t stop and admire it for long, or you’d freeze to death. but it was very beautiful. A belting adventure.”

Jonny Pain battling in minus 40 degree celsius conditions at the Ice Ultra 2023

Other Renowned Ultra Marathons

Badwater: The World’s Toughest Foot Race?

Badwater 135 is a gruelling 135-mile race through Death Valley in California, often described as “the world’s toughest foot race.” This race demands exceptional preparation and determination as you climb over 14,000 feet of cumulative elevation in extreme heat.

Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

The Barkley Marathons is a unique and secretive race held in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. With a limit of 60 hours to complete five loops of a 20-mile unmarked course, only a few participants have ever finished the race since its inception in 1986.

The Montane Spine Race: Britain’s Most Brutal Ultra

The Spine Race is a 268-mile winter ultra marathon along the Pennine Way National Trail in the UK. Dubbed “Britain’s most brutal race,” participants face harsh weather, including snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.

Proper Spine Race conditions – Photo credit, Jimmy Hyland

Tips for Choosing Your Next Challenge

Choose an Even Tougher Challenge

If you’re looking to push yourself even further after the Marathon des Sables, consider races with a lower finish rate or those known for their extreme difficulty, like the Jungle Ultra or the Desert Ultra.

Opt for a More Intimate Race

Some ultra-marathons, like The Global Race Series, limit the number of participants, offering a more intimate and unique experience. If you prefer smaller-scale races with a close-knit community-feel research events with limited slots.

Combine Racing with Tourism

Take the opportunity to explore new cultures and landscapes while participating in an ultra-marathon. Races like the Jungle Ultra or Mountain Ultra offer incredible scenic backdrops and immersive cultural experiences, allowing you to combine your love for racing with a passion for travel.


As a finisher of the Marathon des Sables and other extreme ultra marathons, I know what it takes to tackle the world’s toughest races, yet still thirst for more. Whether you choose one of Beyond the Ultimate’s iconic races or opt for other renowned ultra-marathons like Badwater or The Spine Race, you will find a race that will test your endurance and provide unforgettable experiences and memories. Use my tips to help you choose your next challenge.

So dust off your pack, and prepare for your biggest challenge yet.