If you love distance running and the marathon isn’t quite long enough for you, ultra running may be your newest sport. Lucky for all of you, ultra running is more popular than ever for runners all over the world. Whether the race is on the road, trails or track, the rules allow the runner to “go as you please” in order to finish the race. This rule allows whatever is necessary to complete the event, which could mean walking breaks, eating breaks or sleeping breaks, depending on the length of the race.
Ultra running can be defined as any distance longer than the typical marathon distance of 26.2 miles. While this is believed to be true, the shortest standard distance to be considered an ultramarathon is the 50km race, which converts to 31.07 miles. There are many other standard distances of races for ultra running, which include the 50 mile race, the 100km race and the 100 mile race. On top of these specified distance events, there are races offered to ultra runners based on a fixed time. These fixed time races include a series of events that could last for 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours and 6 days in which the runner attempts to cover the greatest possible distance in that time period.
While there is technically no limit to the distance of an ultramarathon, the longest certified event in the world is The Ultimate Ultra held in New York every fall. This event is known as the Sri Chinmoy 1300-Miler and is completed by circling a one mile loop, 1300 times. There is also an annual event called the Trans America Footrace. This is a 64 consecutive day race from Los Angeles to New York and covers a distance of almost 3,000 miles. This averages out to about 45 miles a day!
Although this sport is just receiving a spotlight, ultra running has been around much longer than the marathon. It was first recognized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation in 1991, 5 years after the marathon made its debut at the Olympics. The IAAF officially recognized the 100km event in 1991 making it the longest distance running event that is recognized by the world athletics governing body.
The most important part to ultra running is preparation and good training. If you’re looking into the sport, be sure to listen to your body and be smart with your training. A pair of insoles could be a great addition to your running sneaker to help you tackle the hundreds of miles of training in your future!