Marathons

The Most Expensive Ultra Marathon Ever – $21,000, WHAT?!

Written by Charlie

The most expensive ultra marathon in the world takes place next year and the entry costs $21,000. Here is what that includes and what other races have to offer in similar price ranges.

“Race like a warrior, recover like a king.” That is the motto of the Highland Kings Ultra Marathon that will take place in April of 2022. According to the race directors, that kind of racing and recovering should come at a price and that price is $21,000. Where does that fit in the realm of high priced running events and is it even worth it?

The Highland Kings Ultra Marathon – the $21,000 Race

  • Race is a 4 day stage race
  • Takes place in Scotland
  • Costs $21,000 to enter
  • Only 40 participants
  • Covers 120 miles
  • Features speedboat transfers, luxury accommodations each day, butters, therapists, and Michelin chefs
  • Highland Kings

For people that have the money, knowing this is likely the most luxurious running event in the world, that could be enough to make them sign up. But, is such a race even worth it and what could you get for that kind of racing money elsewhere?

First, let’s see what Highland Kings is offering for that kind of money. They use descriptions like “designed by ex Special Forces with a world-class support crew behind you every step of the way.” Also, “Revel in a luxury wilderness ultra-marathon – the first of its kind.”

Will This Attract Typical Ultra Marathoners/ Trail Runners?

I have run a number of ultra marathons at many distances and timed events and have run with some of the best ultra runners in the world (though quite a bit behind them!). From what I know about the ultra-running/trail running community, using phrases like “luxury wilderness ultra-marathon” is NOT going to get them to sign-up.

Running trail races is kind of a way to leave everything behind and just challenge yourself on the course and enjoy the beauty of the nature around you. It is a chance to just really enjoy time with fellow ultra enthusiasts and to feel the gravel/dirt/rocks/roots under your feet as you stride through the mountains/hills/woods/forests/jungles/deserts. “Luxury” isn’t part of that kind of experience.

No wonder this will be the “first of its kind” because there is probably a very tiny market of runners that want luxury anything mixed with that experience. I mean, the medals for finishing many ultras/trails are belt buckles, wood carvings, engraved rock, etc.

What This Event Includes

So, they are throwing in a Garmin MARQ Athlete watch and saying it is the world’s best luxury endurance sports wearable. Actually, at $1,500, it is the cheapest of the luxury Garmin watches and not close to the best endurance watch they offer. The Garmin Enduro, priced from $799, is a much better endurance watch and any of the Fenix watches (also much cheaper than that MARQ watches) will likely hold up better than the Athlete MARQ, according to many Athlete MARQ owners. That’s $1,500 towards the $21,000 fee.

They are also including things like “personalized hydration and fueling strategies” that they utilize by having you tested at a local facility to show what your strategies should be. They are also including apparel from Thrudark and a race vest from Ultimate Direction.

Lastly, they are including “world-class coaching by multiple World Champion, Jon Albon” in addition to covering all the expenses throughout the 4 day event. This stage race covers 120 miles over the four days and only 40 people will be able to enter. And, yes, that fee again for entrance is $21,000. The race is in April and the personalized coaching starts in October.

Other High Priced Racing Events

North Pole Marathon

There are other racing events that cost more than even the New York Marathon, due to the sophistication/logistics/transportation of the events. Speaking of events in April, my friend Richard Donovan has many events that take place in extreme locations around the globe and he has the North Pole Marathon that takes place in April.

This marathon takes place on ice in the Arctic Ocean and is prepared by ex special forces who drop in ahead of the race to set things up. This extreme location would, of course, require a high cost but it is still cheaper than the Highland Kings at a cost of €15,900, which comes to just around $18,700 at today’s currency rate.

World Marathon Challenge

Continuing on with Richard’s events, the World Marathon Challenge is probably the most expensive running event in the world but it is worth every dollar for what goes into such an event. This event has 7 organized marathons that take place on 7 continents in 7 days. Oh, that travel is all on a charter business class jet!

This one costs €39,900 for the entire event, including the transportation, but remember that it includes charter jet service around the globe, including Antartica! Again, this event is not for everyone but if you are spending $21,000 to run through the highlands of Scotland for four days, why not double that to run on every continent around the world in 7 days?

Ice Marathon

As long as we are talking about Antarctica, you could also take that $21,000 and run the only marathon that takes place on the continent of Antarctica – another event put on by Richard Donovan. If you took that $21,000, you would be able to pay the $17,900 fee and still have enough left over to by 3 of those Garmin MARQ Athlete watches! Plus, that fee covers your transportation to the White Continent as well as staying over night for two nights on Antarctica!

Racing the Planet

Other than those events, you do have others like the 4 Deserts Ultramarathons that take place in such deserts as the Atacama in Chile, the Gobi in Mongolia, the Namib in Namibia, and the Last Desert in Antarctica. For those 4 races, the entry fees COMBINED are $24,400. That means you could do all four for just $3,000 more than the 4 day race in Scotland!

There are other races like the Badwater 135 in Death Valley that is just over $1,000, the stage race in the Sahara that is just over $3,000 and many more. Nothing comes close to the high price of the Highland Kings, especially compared to what they all have to offer.

Of course, they do have Michelin chefs providing support so maybe that does count for something! 🙂

Would you even consider signing up for this event? How about picking one of the others?

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • I’ve met Richard Donovan as well and he is AMAZING! I’ve done North Pole marathon and Antarctic Ice marathon in the past and would highly recommend saving up $$$ or finding sponsors to help pay for the trip. Worth every penny. Back in the day Richard used to have an Antarctic 100k but I don’t think he hosts that anymore. If he reinstates that race, I plan on signing up!
    Also, what I love about the North Pole marathon is you’re running on a frozen ocean!!! After finishing the race, I looked at my GPS and though it is a looped course, you see in the map how the ice shifts.

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