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World's toughest mountain races: ultra-marathons through the jungle
They scramble through tropical bush, fight their way through rivers, chase up almost vertical volcano walls and push hard through knee-high mud. If the standard marathon isn’t demanding enough for you, you’ll find the ultimate challenge in Martinique and Guadeloupe: the murderous jungle races that take place each year in May.

By Bernhard Grdseloff
Jungle raiders: downhill is tougher than uphill
Jungle raiders: downhill is tougher than uphill

Both ultra-marathons involve overcoming the islands’ massive volcanoes. Mount Peleé (4,600 ft) on the 40 mile "Tchimbe Raid" in Martinique, and Soufrière, which is 300 feet higher, on the 31 mile volcano trail in Guadeloupe. All in all, runners need to cover almost 13,000 feet of altitude in the course of each race. Yet the ascents are not the hardest part.

"What’s really tough are the steep, slippery downhill sections that are covered in roots," says Eric Barret, organizer of the jungle race in Guadeloupe. "That’s why our volcano trail is more difficult than the Martinique one, despite its shorter distance." The record holder of both ultra-marathons is Nepalese Dachiri Sherpa who shakes off all his competitors along the downhill track. His record times are 7 hours and 41 minutes for the 40 miles in Martinique and 6 hours and 36 minutes for the 31 miles in Guadeloupe.

Taking part in the murderous mountain race requires some hard training. Guadeloupe offers monthly training runs. Info: www.altitudes-tropicales.com
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