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A stock plot: the characters have to proceed from a starting line to a finishing line under some set of rules over the course of an extended period of time - often several days. This could be by car, by horse, by foot, or by any means necessary. Expect Badasses of whatever types are appropriate.

This may involve Wacky Racing or it may not: the distinguishing characteristic of an Epic Race is the extreme length (generally 12 hours or more), not its idiosyncratic nature. An Epic Race is so long that the challenge of merely going that distance in the time adds interest, irrespective of anything else.


Automobiles & Motorcycles

Anime and Manga

  • Speed Racer and its various adaptations contains a number of epic races.

Film

Live Action TV

  • Drive
  • Arguably, the various Top Gear Specials, although (except for the Polar Special) "get there first" was not the challenge. That said, more traditional Epic Races have appeared on the show: the economy race from Basel, Switzerland to the Blackpool Illuminations took 17 hours; and the car vs. public transport race from Heathrow to Oslo took still longer.

Video Games

  • The endurance races from the Gran Turismo series which have been getting longer as the series progresses.
  • Need for Speed: The Run.

Real Life

Horses

Film

Real Life

  • The sport of endurance riding, which involves trekking great distances on horseback. In older times, these races could be cross-country. Nowadays, most national events are between 50 and 100 miles, which can be completed in about 12 hours by the winners. The rides are divided into different legs, with health checks for the horses and riders before they're cleared to continue the competition.

Spacecraft

Anime

Literature

Live Action TV

Footraces

Literature

  • Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman - The Long Walk. It's a foot race run by 100 teenage boys, the so-called "walkers", with the following rules: if you drop below 4 miles an hour, you get a warning. Receiving 3 warnings in quick succession gets you killed. And as a final touch, it has no finish - it lasts until there's only one surviving walker. It's written by Stephen King - were you expecting a happy ending?

Real Life

  • Ultramarathons, particularly those that exceed 100 miles.

Multiple Modes of Transport

Manga

Literature

Film

Live Action Television

  • The Amazing Race
  • The now-forgotten reality series Lost (no, not that one), in which contestants were dropped off in an unknown location somewhere in the world and had to find their way back home.
  • NBC's Treasure Hunters, which combined this trope with Treasure Map and lasted one season.

Western Animation

Real Life

Other

Comic Books

Film

  • The Disney movie Iron Will about a dogsled race.

Literature

  • Ian Watson's story "The Great Atlantic Swimming Race" (swimming past the whole Atlantic Ocean) has a satirical bent.

Western Animation

Film

Real Life

  • The Tour de France, a 3500-km bicycle race.
    • Also Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España.
  • The Iditarod, a 1150-mile dogsled race.
  • The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the "Great Race of Mercy," was not a race against other competitors, but a race against nature itself - 20 mushers and over 150 dogs undertook a 674-mile journey in blizzard conditions to save Nome, Alaska from a diphtheria epidemic after aircraft proved unusable. The serum arrived in five and a half days, a feat that has never been duplicated. The Iditarod, mentioned above, is in part a commemoration of this last great hurrah and Crowning Moment of Awesome of dog-sledding.
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