No pain, no gain: 5 more gutsy European endurance challenges

A while back we set out to find some of the toughest endurance events and challenges in Europe. This this time we’re back with more back-breaking, Herculean trials for those who think they’re hard enough.

So get set, and go explore part 2 of our No pain, no gain series…  

ÖtillÖ or ‘Island to Island’

Originating in the Swedish Archipelago, this race ÖtillÖ sits alongside Norseman as one of Scandinavia’s boldest endurance races.

The SwimRun World Championship sees pairs battle sea, woodland, trail and road over the 75km ‘Mother of all SwimRun courses’. With 52 transitions between land and sea, and salt waters dropping to lows of 10c, entrants have from dawn until dusk to overcome a relentless, unforgiving course. Total distance includes 10km swimming and a 65km run across 26 separate Swedish islands.

Held annually since 2006, ÖtillÖ has grown tenfold , blazing the trail for the rise of SwimRun all over the world. It has now grown into multiple events including sprint races, and a World Series. 

Next event: September 3rd 2018 (World Championship)

For more info visit:

The Ramsay Round

On Saturday 8th July 1978, Lochaber Athletic Club’s Charlie Ramsay set off on an endurance challenge that has long since been written into ultra running folklore.

The man from Edinburgh climbed a phenomenal 24 Munros, including Ben Nevis in under 24-hours. A record which stood for almost a decade.

Charlie’s achievement has been immortalised by the 93km fell running time trial The Ramsay Round. This punishing course is revered as one of the most formidable trail challenges in the world – and rightly so.

With a cumulative altitude gain of 12.5km and predictably chaotic Scottish weather conditions, the Grampians have only yielded 93 successful runners to date.

The rest? Gobbled up and spat out by what is an incredible trial of individual steel and stamina.

The course record now stands at an eye-bulging 16 hours and 13 minutes.  

Next event: N/A

For more info visit:



“Spartathlon draws a legend out of the depths of history. The idea for its creation belongs to John Foden, a British RAF Wing Commander. As a lover of Greece and student of ancient Greek history, Foden wondered if a modern man could emulate Pheidippides and cover the distance from Athens to Sparta in 36 hours.” –

The Spartathlon is a gruelling 246km, single-stage grind. The meagre 40% finishing rate says it all – this is an epic race!

When temperatures rise, blistering heat can reduce even the best to an abrupt, undignified demise. But it is the historic context of the race that makes it all worth it.

Passing through legendary Greek cities such as Corinth and Tegea, the event offers competitors the chance to rub metaphorical shoulders with ancient athletes and position themselves amongst the world’s toughest endurance elites.     

Next event: 28th September – 29th September 2018

For more info visit:

Salzkammergut Trophy

Every year over 4,000 entrants descend upon Austria’s biggest mountain bike marathon event.

This masterfully coordinated alpine event is made up of 8 different courses – to inspire everyone from the hardy to the endurance newcomer to saddle up and join the climb.  

But it is the centerpiece, 211km course, that positions the Salzkammergut Trophy as one of Europe’s toughest. Riders are given a mere 16 hours to complete a mountainous slog which reaches an exhaustive elevation gain of 7000 metres.

Those who dare to take on the black course will face severe climbs, draining altitudes and a fierce inner battle to the bitter end. But for those who push on, an epic downhill climax and unbelievable views of Austria’s finest peaks awaits.   

Next event: 13th – 15th July 2018

For more info visit:

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc puts a whole new spin on the word ultra.

This 165km mountain marathon through the Chamonix region is held in high esteem by the running community. So much so that qualification points – accumulated in other ultra races throughout the year – are required for entry.  

Twisting through France, Italy and Switzerland, the course offers up some of the most awe-inspiring panoramic views you’re ever likely to lay eyes upon…

“We are about to take off on a dream-world adventure. We will be rubbing shoulders with Aiguille de Bionnassay and crossing Col du Bonhomme by moonlight. At sunrise, we will cross Col de la Seigne into Italy and the magical Val Veni overlooked by Noire du Peuterey and the glaciers descending Mont Blanc. Later we will reach the Val Ferret, guarded by Dent du Géant and Grandes Jorasses before finally turning into Switzerland to relish the beautifully protected countryside.” –

But this race is a deceiving beast.

Entrants face a ridiculously volatile climate, a gruelling cumulative ascent that’s higher than Everest, and 10 formidable mountain passes. All of which pose a toilsome test for even the most seasoned of runners.  

Over a quarter fail to crack the 46-hour allotted completion time. Those with the grit and tenacity to triumph will clinch a coveted finishers gilet.  

Next event: 31st August – 2nd September 2018

For more info visit:

Push your limits…

If you’re looking for a mental and physical challenge, you’re not going to need to look much further. These endurance titans are an unbelievable accomplishment for anyone.

Whether it’s the sweltering Greek sun or icy Swedish waters, these gruelling tests of human capabilities will push you to the limit.