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.
Generally a subtrope of The Big Race
, for obvious reasons.
Automobiles & Motorcycles
Anime and Manga
- 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.
- The seventh story arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Steel Ball Run, takes place over the course of a cross-country horse race.
- 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.
- 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?
- On the future Mars of Transhuman Space: In The Well, there's the Olympus Mons biathalon. You start by climbing the 15km-tall cliffs that make up the edge of the Olympus volcano — with a bicycle on your back — then you bike 300km to the caldera at the center.
- Ultramarathons, particularly those that exceed 100 miles.
Multiple Modes of Transport
- Steel Ball Run, Part 7 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, involves a cross-continental race. It is almost entirely a horse race, with the exception of Sandman, who just decided to run it on foot.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the Suske and Wiske comic "Het Sprekende Testament" (The Speaking Testament), the heroes of the series race in a modified train that drives on (and off) the road.
- 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 Tour de France, a 3500-km bicycle race.
- Also Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espaņa.
- 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 — twenty mushers and over a hundred and fifty 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.