Ultra Running Race Recommendations
Thinking about running your first ultra marathon or looking for your next one? We've asked some of the world's leading ultra runners for their tips for beginners and which has been their favourite ever ultra running race! So what are your options?
Big names and big competition: if you're looking to fill up your ultra running global passport, there are a few big names you just have to consider:
1) Marathon des Sables - the most famous ultra marathon on the planet, sand, sun and a whole lot of running make up the MdS.
"My first Ultra Marathon was the Marathon des Sables, if you really want to start in the deep end go for this! If not, I would recommend a 50k/50 miler to get your body used to running for hours on end, just make sure you have beautiful scenery, because for me, it makes the time fly by while taking in my surroundings of breathtaking landscapes." - Luke Tyburski
2) The Jungle Ultra - it's just finished for this year but this ultra is definitely a must; the wettest, hottest and most beautiful scenary of any ultra in the world - 70 river crossing and 100% humidity. The Jungle Ultra really brings out the explorer in you!
"It doesn't get cooler than running through 3 countries with a headtorch! The UTMB is the definition of Ultra-running. 3 countries, 170km, and over the height of Everest in under 46 hours"
The UTMB is also the favourite ultra marathon of Will Cooper (of Run Longer blog).
4) Pick a historic trail: one of the most epic things about ultra running is that you will experience trails and routes which are inaccessible to other modes of transport. You can also follow in the historic footsteps of travellers throughout time - Andy Mouncey - author of the BigAndScaryRunning.com - says:
"I do think a big part of loading the dice in favour of completing an ultra is choosing a location which inspires, and/or somewhere new to explore. This means it's easier to be distracted by the scenery and as many of us know, ' doing distraction' is a great way to help the miles pass a little easier."
Race to the Stones, for example, is a trail which follows the ancient ridgeway which has been used for over 5000 years and has been recognised as the oldest path in Britain!
5) Be the first: if you're looking for your next ultra and want a truly unique experience, why not look for new races? This year, the Rocky Mountains will play host to the first ever Mountain Ultra - 23,000ft of incline is waiting to be conquered, are you up for the Challenge? The Mountain Ultra takes you to the same height above sea-level as the famous marathon training camps used by Etheopian runners - don't forget your oxygen mask!
Recommendations from the experts:
Andrew Murray is an ultra running champion who has run some of the most famous ultra marathons in the world, along with running his own massive personal Challenges such as Scotland to Sahara and 7 ultras in 7 days on 7 continents! Here's his top advice for your first ultra and which has been his favourite to date:
Recommendation for first race - "choose a race in a scenic place or one you can do with friends. Autumn is often a good time as I find it easier to train in the summer"
- Favourite Ultra - "My favourite ultra is invariably the last one that I have done. Running is my way of seeing the world . I am pretty sure my next challenge- lessons from Africa in which I ll run across east Africa and spend a but of time with world beating local runners will be my favourite . But each country had unique and epic ultras . Choosing one is tough"
Other favourites and recommendations of the best Ultra running races around the globe:
"Without a single doubt, running with the Tarahumara / Raramuri in the Copper Canyons, alongside my friend Caballo Blanco, was a life-changing experience. The unique spirit of the Raramuri, the jaw-dropping Canyons and the open-hearted contact between running peoples of the world make the Ultra Caballo Blanco a run apart from any other in the world, that inspires people from all over the world who come in as ultra runners and leave as Mas Locos, their hearts filled with joy and lifetime memories. I couldn't recommend it more to anyone who seeks the profound meaning in their running." - Flint F (check out the story of Caballo Blanco here)
"It's strange, but having run close to 25,000 miles in multiday races, most of those, 19 in fact, have been Self-Transcendence races and all but one in New York. These races are organised by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and, high on my list of priorities, provide excellent vegetarian food. From 24 hour races on several continents and 48 hour races, 6 & 10 day events in the Spring in Flushing Meadow New York to the Mother of all races - the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race in Queens, New York, an annual event since 1996 when it first appeared as the 2700 mile race." - Abichal S of Ultrarunning World
"I have run a number of ultras but I have to say that my all time favourite is the West Highland Way Race. I love each section of the route and because it is within a reasonable distance to where we live I can get on the route once a month or so." - John Kynaston
"My all time favorite I have a love hate relationship with. It's Hurt 100. I have run it every year since its been going on, 2001-2013. I have finished the 100 miler 7 times 1 DNF and 5 100k finishes. I wasn't sure if I could ever finish the hundred again after not finishing it the past 6 years. I was thrilled to finish it again. This race is in the Jungle of the tantalus forest. It's humid and hot and can rain and one year it even got cold. This race will kick your ass. That's what keeps me going back." - Catra "Dirt Diva"
- "My All time favourite Ultra is the Everest 65k Ultra, after trekking for over a week from Lukla (2900m) to Gorakshep (5200m) you run back down in a single day. Its about the whole experience, trekking and then running down the Himalayas is truly a magical feeling for anyone who loves Ultras, mountains, and picturesque scenery!" - Luke Tyburski
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