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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
- Speed Racer and its various adaptations contains a number of epic races.
- Red Line, and how.
- Death Race 2000
- Death Race, an In Name Only remake of Death Race 2000
- Smokey and the Bandit
- Many directly inspired by real races:
- Monte Carlo or Bust (aka Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies), the sequel to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (see below), switched from planes to automobiles.
- The El Dorado race from the climax of the 1969 version of The Love Bug.
- The Casa Cristo 5000 from Speed Racer.
- Truth in 24, a Documentary about the Audi team in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans, plays up this trope.
- 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.
- The endurance races from the Gran Turismo series which have been getting longer as the series progresses.
- Need for Speed: The Run.
- Endurance races such as 24 Heures du Mans, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Also, parodies such as The 24 Hours of LeMons, where each car must cost $500 or less (including both purchase cost and cost of any repairs/enhancements!).
- Numerous cross-country races, including the one which inspired The Cannonball Run.
- The many around-the-world races of all kinds, stretching back at least to the 1908 New York to Paris race.
- The Baja 1000, one of the few races with spectator-created booby traps.
- 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.
- Star Trek novel The Great Starship Race.
- 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?
- Ultramarathons, particularly those that exceed 100 miles.
Multiple Modes of Transport
- Steel Ball Run, Part 7 of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, involves a cross-continental race.
- 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.
- Phineas and Ferb: Summer Belongs to You! has the title characters attempt to circumnavigate the world on the summer solstice. Finagle's Law bites hard.
- The Eco-Challenge marathon (1995-2002).
- Issue #5 of Steelgrip Starkey And The All-Purpose Power Tool features an "Around-The-World Super Construction Race", combining both a footrace with feats of engineering.
- The Disney movie Iron Will about a dogsled race.
- Ian Watson's story "The Great Atlantic Swimming Race" (swimming past the whole Atlantic Ocean) has a satirical bent.
- The Alvin and The Chipmunks film, The Chipmunk Adventure, had this as their main plot. The Chipmunks and the Chipettes had to race around the world in hot air balloons, dropping off and collecting dolls.
- Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines involved an airplane race. Its sequel, Monte Carlo Or Bust, involved an auto race (see above).
- 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.