Ulttra Marathons & Marathon events
With people seeking ever tougher challenges, the rise in popularity of ultra marathons is to be expected. Ultra marathons include any running race that exceeds the standard marathon distance (42.2 kilometres or 26.2 miles), and are now run all over the world.
Events are either for a specified distance – most commonly 50 kilometres, 100 kilometres, 50 miles, or 100 miles – or for a specified time. Timed events include 6, 12, and 24 hours through to multi day events, with the winner being the runner who has covered the greatest distance at the end of the specified time. These timed events are almost always run on a track or a short road loop.
At the extreme end of the ultra marathon spectrum are events such as double marathons, 24-hour races, and multi day races of up to 1000 miles! Whatever type of challenge you are after, and wherever in the world you want to go, you will find extreme events. Two of the most famous are in Africa – the Marathon des Sables, a seven day stage race over 250 km through the Sahara desert in Morocco, and the Comrades Marathon, held in Cape Town in the southern autumn. The 90 km Comrades is the world's oldest and largest ultra marathon, with a field of over 24,500 in 2000.
The USA also has its fair share of extreme events, including the Western States Endurance Run, the world's oldest 100-mile trail run, and the bizarre Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race – this New York race involves running endless laps around a single block in Queens, New York. Runners run up to 100 laps a day for up to 50 days until they reach 3100 miles! Quite an achievement, though probably not everyone’s cup of tea!