The UltraMarathon Challenge

runnerAn ultramarathon, also known as ultra distance,  is an organized footrace that extends well beyond the traditional marathon running distance of 42.195 kilometers. It can be a great endurance workout. However, due to the nature of this sports, only professionals or those who have enough training can do ultramarathon. So if you want to try ultramarathon, you have to undergo rigid and disciplined training first.


Ultramarathon usually begins at 50 kilometers. Other races have a distance of 100 kilometers. The most common distances are 50 and 100 kilometers. Ultra races also features 24-hour races, double marathons, and multi-day marathon of 1000 miles or longer.

The Sri Chinmoy 1,300-Miler (2,092 kilometers) is known as the Ultimate Ultra, one of the longest official ultra races in the world held annually every fall in New York.

In the Trans America Footrace, runners have to complete in 64 successive stages daily from Los Angeles to New York. They have to run almost 4,800 kilometers, at a rate of around 72 kilometers daily. There’s virtually no limit as to the distance as ultra races can extend to enormous distances.


There are two kinds of ultramarathon events. In the first type, runners are required to complete a fixed distance (it can be 100 kilometers, or 1000 kilometers or more.

In the second type, participants must cover the greatest possible distance within a given length of time. Timed ultra races range from 6 hours to 48 hours, or in multi-day events 3 days to 6 days. Usually, timed events are run for a short road course, or a on a track that is usually one kilometer or less.

Formats and courses

Participants of ultra races run on roads, tracks, or trails. Ultramarathon event formats and courses covered somewhat varies: point-to-point races (South Africa’s Comrades Marathon), out and back courses (Canada’s Niagara 100K), held on loop courseS (New York’s Sri Chinmoy), single or multiple loops, and cross-country rogaines.

Many ultra races, particularly trail challenges, feature extreme course obstacles, like very rugged terrain, sudden elevation change, or inclement weather. Most of these marathons are run on mountain paths or dirt roads, while many are also run on paved roads.

Well-known ultramarathons

Ultramarathons are popular in many countries around the world. Ultramarathons in road and dirt paths: Comrades Marathon, Biel/Bienne 100 km, Dartmoor Discovery, London to Brighton, Two Oceans Marathon, JFK 50 Mile, and Spartathlon.

Ultramarathons in mountain and trails: Copper Canyon Ultramarathon, Tahoe Mountain Milers, StumpJump 50k, Scorched Sole, Rennsteiglauf, Quad Dipsea, Miwok 100K, Lean Horse Ultramarathon, Leadville Trail 100, Addo Elephant Trail Run, HAT Run, Barkley Marathons, Jay Challenge, Big Horn Trail Run.

Ultramarathons in extreme conditions: The Last Desert, Atacama Crossing, Sahara Race, Badwater Ultramarathon, RacingThePlanet, Gobi March, and Marathon des Sables. Ultramarathons in multi-days and very long events: Spreelauf, Self-Transcendence (3100 miles), Bruce Trail in Ontario ((10-15 days), and Bunion Derby in Los Angeles (3 months).

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