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Vermont goes to extremes to attract the toughest athletes

Courtesy of Shale Hill Adventure

The Polar Bear Challenge in Benson offers physical and mental obstacles.

Saturday, Feb. 6 — BENSON — For some people, it’s not enough to run a 10K and call it a day. Vermont is the perfect place for folks who want a real athletic challenge. Try running laps for eight hours in mud, ice and snow. Or race uphill in skis or snowshoes. Vermont has the ultimate fitness tests with these extreme races. This Saturday, Feb. 6 marks the first of such races in the Shale Hill Polar Bear 8-hour obstacle challenge in Benson. Only the tough and hardy will beat the odds in this never-ending loop of physical and mental challenges; it’s a 10K+ and over 65 obstacles and challenges, trail running, hills, mud, ice, and snow. Bragging rights go to the person who can complete the  most laps in 8 hours. Get the details and register at

Upcoming adventure/obstacle races, locally:

  • Spartan Agoge 48, Feb. 12-14, Pittsfield — Overcome mental and physical obstacles to develop your body, mind and spirit.
  • Winter Wild Uphill Race, Feb. 20, Okemo— An uphill series with a twist: the finish is at the bottom, so you get to come back down.
  • Peak 2016 Snowshoe Race, March 18-19, Pittsfield — Try a 100-mile trek, snowshoe marathon, ½ marathon, or 10K option. The course is a rugged 6.5 mile loop in the Green Mountains, with 1200’ of vertical.
  • Peak Ultra, May 12-14, Pittsfield— Running options from 15 miles to 200 miles in the foothills of the Green Mountains.
  • Spartan Agoge 60, June 17, Pittsfield — A race based on the Spartan system of training, designed to produce the strongest and most mentally tough citizens on earth.
  • New England Tough Mudder, June 18-19, Mount Snow— One of North America’s favorite destination races, with intense elevation changes and scenic trails.
  • Dirty Girl Mud Run, July 9, Killington  —Run, walk, climb, crawl…and get incredibly dirty. This event is not timed or competitive.
  • Shale Hill Tri-Obstaclon Obstacle Relay Challenge, July 16, Benson—A unique multi-sport event. Ride on fire roads to Lake Champlain, swim or wade your way between markers, ride back to Shale Hill and then run the obstacle course.
  • 24 Hours of Shale Hill Hell, Aug. 6-7, Benson—This obstacle course will take you to your limits, and beyond.
  • Peak Mountain Bike Race, Sept. 12, Pittsfield—One lap, two laps, or 6-hour race option.
  • Beast, Sprint and Ultra Beast Weekend, Sept. 19-20, Killington—Steep slopes, off-trail descents, burpees, massive climbs and chilly swims.

Learn more at

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