Ultramarathons date back centuries and refer to any event where the running is longer than a traditional marathon of 42.195 kilometers (26.2188 mi) and usually 50 and 100 kilometers (or 31.07 and 62.14 miles).
The two types of ultramarathon events are the ones that specify a distance and the events that specify a time. A time ultramarathon runner covers as much distance as possible in the specified time period and can be more than 1,000 miles.
Courses vary from track loops to road and trail races. Some are held on obstacle courses and rugged terrain with periodic aid stations. Timed events are 6, 12, and 24 hours to multi day events of 3 and 6 days
There are several international ultra runner associations including The International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU.) The IAU holds events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF.)
Ultramarathons are held all over the world in many countries. Some are hosted by the IAU and some countries also have their own ultramarathon associations. The oldest and largest ultramarathon, the 90 km Comrades Marathon is held annually in Africa. There are also marathons in Cape Town, the Sahara desert in Morocco, the Sahara Race in Egypt, and across the Namib desert.
IAU World Championships have been held in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Mongolia hosts the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset marathon. India's held its first in Bangalore in 2007. China held its first in 2003.
The Sundown marathon is held in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand host more than one hundred ultramarathons annually, and there are over 200 ultramarathons annually in Europe. Some of these are:
Al Andalus Ultra - 230k Ė 5 day race
Germany - Germany Run 1200 km.
Greece - Spartathlon 246 Km
Lakeland - The Lakeland 100
Switzerland - The Swiss Alpine Marathon 78 km
Mont Blanc - The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 166 km
Thuringian Forest - 72.7k Rennsteiglauf
The Spartathlon in Greece is a non-stop event Athens to Sparta. This is one of the toughest races because of the extreme heat and humidity and night time drop in temperature. The Last Desert, is a footrace held in the Antarctic. The IAU holds European Championships and the European Ultramarathon Cup covers a series of races held in European countries. America holds several hundred races every year. The Western States Endurance Run is the oldest 100-mile trail run supposedly started by a horse racer whose horse was injured so he ran the course on foot.
International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU)
The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) is the official organization that sanctions ultramarathon racing. The IAU is in charge of official world rankings for ultrarunners. You can find schedules of events, policies, news, race results and general information on their website.
American Ultrarunning Association (AUA)
The American Ultrarunning Association (AUA) promotes the sport of ultrarunning in the US. The AUA is a member organization of the IAU.
American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame
Ultrarunning has a history in America from the mid-19th century. Organization of ultramarathons began in the late 1950ís. The AUA Hall of Fame recognizes excellence in racing and other exceptional contributions to American ultrarunning. The first man and woman inducted into the Hall of Fame were Ted Corbitt and Sandra Kiddy.
Association of Canadian Ultramarathoners
The ACU formed in 1992 as a committee of volunteers and has grown into a democratic organization to promote and manages ultra running in Canada. The ACU helps runners qualify to participate in IAU and IAAF events.
Australian Ultrarunners Association (AURA)
The AURA focuses on promoting ultra running in Australia as a member of the IAU. AURA manages age group records for races, measures courses, and selects teams for international competition.
The 100km Association was founded by Ron Hindley. He arranged the UK's first 100km road race in 1980. They focus on ultra running events and furnish information on races, results, and news.
USA Track & Field (USATF) Mountain, Ultra and Trail (MUT)
The Mountain, Ultra and Trail (MUT) Sport Council is a division within the USATF that promotes extreme distance running. They promote and manage major races and fundraising.
As with any exercise program, you should schedule a physical with your doctor and explain your training plan and goals. Obtain a clean bill of health and your doctorís approval and you are ready to begin.
Most ultramarathon runners start with a 50. If you are in good health and at an appropriate weight for your height, and run regularly (15 or more miles per week), and have completed a normal (26 mile marathon) most professional runners recommend at least 16 weeks of training to prepare. Schedule interval runs to work on your muscle strength, stamina, and aerobic capacity. Make long runs two days in succession with two days off in between to start. Donít time yourself or measure how far you run, just total time on your feet.
Establish a measured route that is fairly flat terrain similar to what you will be racing on. When you take breaks keep walking. Drink eight ounces of water or an electrolyte sports drink or combination of both about every 15 to 20 minutes. Some runners add high-caffeine drinks in the last 15 miles of a race. You can use a walk run pattern such as running 20 minutes and walking for five minutes. Walk up hills. This will help conserve your energy for the flat and downhill portions of a run.
Coaches and Training Camps
Andy & Kim Holak: trail running adventures
AnyTrail Ultra Services for high-altitude training
Bad to the Bone trail runs and training
Chad Ricklef: Ultramarathon coaching
Cindy Stonesmith: Ultrarunner coaching and training
Danny Dreyer: ChiRunning coach
Jimmy Dean Freeman: Coaching & trail runs
Karl Meltzer: Coaching & ultra blog
Paul DeWitt: Coaching
Scott Jurek: Training & trail running
Scott Weber: Ultramarathon coach
Terri Schneider: Coaching, clinics, and sport psychology
Tim Neckar's site personal running coach
To estimate the time your completion time for your first 50 mile marathon, multiplies your best marathon time and add two hours. Pack sunscreen, an extra shirt, a windbreaker, extra socks and shoes, your favorite energy bars, a few band aids, and Vaseline. Your bag is often dropped at a point in advance on the course.
As you run a race, eat whatever you did during training. Drink at least eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Drink water and electrolyte sports drinks. Again you can have caffeine drinks in the last 15 miles.
Start running slow and develop a rhythm. Pacing for 50 miles or any ultramarathons is critical.
Kevin Sayers: How-To of Ultrarunning
Zombie Runner: Information and supplies for the runner.
Race results from Real Endurance by Gary Wang
Trail Runner Magazine: The gospel of trail running
Global Ultramarathon trail, mountain, and desert events.
International ultras calendar (German)
Training for peak performance: 100 mile podcast audio series
Endurance Planet: News, athlete interviews, and more.
Planet Ultramarathon: Global ultrarunning news.
Team CRUD: An informal group who runs Pikes Peak and other trails.
Sites/blogs by other ultrarunners
Directory of ultrarunner personal blogs.
Marathon and ultramarathon news and information.
Ultramarathon running clubs.
Ultrarunning New Zealand
The Italian ultrarunning and marathon association.
UltraRunning Ireland is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU) as the governing authority for Ireland ultrarunning.
The German Ultramarathon Association
Resources for trail runners and ultra runners of all abilities and levels of interest.
Ultra running ezine.