Five races at altitude for your bucket list

By Chris Knight | 4 Minute Read

Racing at altitude can be a daunting prospect for those who’re heading into the clouds for the first time.

The perils of altitude sickness, colder conditions and the potential risk of dehydration often create nagging worries (on that note, it's worth checking out Andy's blog that asks, Does altitude cause you to dehydrate quicker?), but racing an event involving some thinner air is also a great way to really test yourself.

So, whether you’re looking for your first race in the mountains or you’re a seasoned performer when it comes to tackling big peaks, we’ve picked out five races for your ‘altitude bucket list’...


1) Haute Route Ventoux

Distance: 268km

When: 4th-6th October 2019

Why it should be on your altitude bucket list:

As the Official hydration Partner of Haute Route, we could be accused of bias with our first bucket list selection. However, Haute Route Ventoux stands up to scrutiny as a superb race in its own right and offers the unique chance to climb all three sides of Mont Ventoux in just three days.

Featuring a total distance of 268km and more than 7,980 metres of climbing, riders can conquer the ‘Bald Mountain’ and will get the opportunity to bask in their achievement when stood atop the summit. Plus, you can get away with packing less of your PH as there will be some PH 1500 tabs in your Rider’s Pack and some PH 500 on the Haute Route course.

Don’t forget to come over and say ‘hi’ to Dave at registration if you do ride this one!

Learn more


Haute Route Ventoux

Image by Haute Route (©)


2) The Jungfrau Marathon

Distance: Mini run (fun run), Mini-marathon and Marathon

When: 6th/7th September 2019

Why it should be on your altitude bucket list:

The Jungfrau Marathon markets itself as the ‘Most Beautiful Marathon In The World’ and it’s no longer one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets as it attracts a sell-out crowd of 4,000 runners every year.

The Jungfrau is one of the three iconic peaks in the Alps - alongside the Eiger and Monch - and it provides the backdrop to this beautiful race, which skirts along Lake Brienz, travels through secluded mountain villages and enjoys jaw-dropping views.

An added bonus is the enthusiasm of the bell ringers and alphorn players who adorn the course, although don’t let the local hospitality fool you into thinking this is a cake-walk…

The final 10 miles of the marathon features a mile of vertical climbing that takes you beyond 2,100m of altitude. That should wake the calves up!

Learn more


3) Patagonman

Distance: 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.4km run

When: 1st December 2019

Why it should be on your altitude bucket list:

A member of the XTRI series, the Patagonman in Chile is a beauty. The 300 participants, who secure their place via a lottery system, start the 3.8km swim with a surreal leap from a ferry boat and brace themselves for the Aysend Fjord.

The 180km bike leg laps up the very best that Patagonia has to offer, taking on winding roads, strong winds and an elevation climb that takes them high into The Andes mountain range.

The run is where tiring legs are boosted by beautiful landscapes, going up hills and through dirt trails, all the while passing by stunning lakes and waterfalls. 

If you're thinking of taking on the Patagonman or any of these bucket list races, it's worth checking out Sean's blog - How to train at altitude.

Make no mistake, this is a brutal challenge but the scenery provides memories that will last a lifetime. 

Learn more


4) The Leadville 100

Distance: 100 miles

When: 12th October 2019

Why it should be on your altitude bucket list:

The challenge, altitude and views of the Leadville Trail 100 combine to take your breath away.

First established in 1983, the Leadville involves a number of qualifier events before the grand finale, known as the ‘Race Across The Sky’, takes place in the Colorado Rockies in August. For those who fancy a crack at the trail run, the 100-mile out-and-back route will ascend Hop Pass and its summit of 12,600 feet.

There’s also a mountain bike option which features plenty of forest trails, mountain roads and lots of climbing - you start at 10,152 feet, dip to 9,200 and climb to a high of 12,424 feet at Columbine Mine.

The race website claims the Leadville is “where legends are created and limits are tested”. It’s difficult to disagree.


5) Breathless

Distance: 31.7km

When: April 2020

Why it should be on your altitude bucket list:

For those who fancy something a bit different and can afford to splash the cash, the Breathless is billed as one of the toughest, cruelest races on the planet. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Featuring a 16-day itinerary, the Breathless involves trekking for five hours every day through the peaks of Nepal - including a visit to Everest Base Camp - and there will be plenty of challenges to overcome, not least from the environment as cold temperatures and altitude sickness take their toll.

The self-proclaimed ‘World’s Highest Race’ boasts an overall distance of 31.7km, which includes a half-marathon race on one day, but this punishing experience is definitely one for the bucket list.


We hope this list has helped to give you a few ideas for your next big challenge at altitude...

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