Ultra-running is the discipline covering races and events in excess of the standard 26.2 mile (42 km) marathon distance. The great thing about ultra-races and running is the sheer variety of events, distances and locations over and in which they take place.
There is something for everybody here, from relatively short one-day events like our local Vale Coastal Ultra at 33 miles, right up to iconic races such as the Comrades run in KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa at 90 Km or the 7-day Marathon De Sable in the Moroccan Sahara at 250 Km.
Whatever your current ability, it makes sense to start on shorter races close to home in benign conditions, before graduating to longer events, in more arduous conditions, or foreign countries, where injury, healthcare and insurance for hazardous activities also become a concern.
At their heart ultra-marathons have several things in common:
1. Careful consideration of age, physical ability and health.
2. Planning nutrition, hydration and self-aid before and during the event.
3. Preparation and testing of equipment required for the event.
4. A long view to training plans, sometimes up to 12 months.
5. Detailed planning, including travel and accommodation.
One of our members COLIN CAESAR recently completed the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra (43 miles) and kindly shared a blog which detailed his race preparation and the story of the day.
By their very nature and the need for distance, ultras tend to lean towards trail and off-road running, even though some might take in roads along the way.
They are often in quieter and more rural locations, or in wild and mountainous places. There are plenty to get your teeth into in the UK, utilising our amazing landscape and geography. Foreign adventures can take you around the world, indeed to every continent and if that is what you want, the world really is your oyster.
Truly something for everyone, finding places you never knew existed.
For the longer and more exotic adventures there are several companies organising events in the UK and abroad. Starting out it makes sense to engage with an experienced tour operator specialising in this field and whilst you could de everything yourself, its probably safer whilst you build knowledge and experience.
You will also have a lot more support during the event in terms of accommodation, travel plans, pit-stops, ways stations, overnight campsites, medical care and the like.
Whatever you have in mind there is probably an event to suit your current ability and with a little bit of planning and preparation, advice and guidance, there is no reason why you shouldn’t complete your first ultra-marathon or move on to something longer and more exciting.
If you want a chat about ultra-events and what you might reasonably achieve, feel free to email me from the link below, you might be capable of far more than you think?
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