What is Ultra Running? 

If you are part of the marathon or running community, then you will have heard of the hardcore sounding ‘ultra running’, but maybe you aren’t totally clued into it, or want to know more about the specifics and the history. 

We have compiled all the relevant information into one article, so read on if you want to learn more about ultra running. 

What is Ultra Running? 

What Is Ultra Running? 

Ultra running and ultra marathons are long-distance runs over distances greater than those covered by marathons (which is 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers). There are many types of ultra marathons, including cross-country, trail, mountain, road, and off-road.

Some ultra marathons are held annually, while others are held on a more sporadic basis. These races vary in length, ranging anywhere from just above the length of a standard marathon, to 100 km (62 miles) to 100 miles (161 km).

Most people who participate in these races are experienced runners, although beginners may also compete – but don’t expect to finish if you do run one as a beginner! 

Ultra running is a very challenging sport. It requires endurance, strength, speed, stamina, mental toughness, and agility. The runner has to run uphill, downhill, and through tough terrains, like through forests, across rivers, and along trails.

Ultra running is becoming increasingly popular around the world. In fact, the number of participants has increased exponentially since its inception.

There are now thousands of races held each year. Some of the most well known races include: Ironman Hawaii, Western States Endurance Run, Badwater Ultramarathon, and the Comrades Marathon.

What Is the History Of Ultra Running? 

Ultra running has its roots in trail running. Trail running is a sport where runners follow trails through forests or mountains.

Unlike road running, trail running requires more strength than speed. Because of this, trail runners tend to be leaner and stronger than their road running counterparts. 

There are several types of trail running. The most popular form of trail running is called “mountain running.” This involves running along paths that wind through mountainous terrain.

The elevation changes are usually gradual, which makes mountain running easier on the knees. Another type of trail running is known as “trail orienteering.” This type of trail running involves navigating over uneven ground while following clues or markers left by other competitors.

In the early 1900s, pioneers began exploring remote areas of North America. They would travel hundreds of miles across rugged terrain in order to reach their destination.

Oftentimes, these explorers would find themselves lost and had no way of knowing how far they were from civilization. To help guide them home, they developed a system of marking trees with flags.

This was the first time anyone used a flag as a navigational tool. It is believed that this led to the early ultra-marathons.

The first recorded use of the term “ultra-marathon” occurred in 1922 when two men ran 42 miles in under 24 hours. Their name for the event was “The Great American Foot Race.”

The first modern ultra marathon was organized in 1967 by Dick Beardsley. He wanted to create an event that would test the limits of human endurance.

This consisted of a 50 mile (80 kilometer) race between two locations. The first person to reach the halfway point at the end of the day won.

The winner had to complete the final 10 miles (16 kilometers) within 24 hours. 

What is Ultra Running? 

The race was not only a challenge for the competitors, but also for the organizers. They were worried that no one would show up, so they offered $1,000 to anyone who finished. Only three men completed the course, which meant that they earned the prize money.

That same year, the first official global ultra marathon was held in Australia. A few years later, the first American ultra marathon was created. Since then, there have been countless other events created. 

Today, there are hundreds of races held every year, with a legion of faithful competitors who train and travel around the globe to run in these races. 

Who Can Run Ultra Running? 

Anyone can run ultra running. You don’t need any special skills, you just need to commit to the intensive training so that you stand a chance of winning. However, some physical characteristics make certain athletes better suited for this type of racing.

For example, shorter legs and longer arms mean less energy required to propel your body forward. Also, having a high level of aerobic capacity means that you will be able to sustain higher speeds for longer periods of time.

Other factors such as age, gender, weight, and experience all play a role in determining whether someone is ready to take part in an ultra marathon. 

How Does It Help Get You Fit? 

Ultra running works because you use your muscles to move your body forward – like you do with all kinds of running, but to an extreme. Your heart rate increases during exercise. When your heart beats faster, it pumps blood to your muscles.

As you continue exercising, your muscles become tired. At this point, you start using glycogen stored in your muscles, and respire anaerobically (leading to the build up of lactic acid). Your breathing becomes shallower and faster. 

Your brain also sends signals to your muscles telling them to slow down. If you keep going, your muscles will eventually stop working, and you will collapse. After about 30 minutes, your heart rate slows back down to normal levels.

This is why you may feel exhausted and out of breath after completing an ultra marathon. But if you push yourself and train properly, you can finish the race, and become the fittest version of yourself you have ever been.

Why Do People Participate In Ultra Running? 

There are many reasons why people choose to compete in ultra marathons. One reason is that it provides a sense of accomplishment.

Many runners enjoy the feeling of finishing a long distance race. It gives them a sense of pride. Another reason is that ultra running offers a unique opportunity to meet new friends and build lasting relationships. 

Most ultra marathons offer prizes for different categories too. Some of these include: fastest male/female, most experienced, etc.

These prizes give participants something to strive for. In addition, there are often awards given to those who raise funds for charities. Participants can win cash or prizes based on how much money they raise.

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, ultra running has evolved into a sport where people from all walks of life come together and support and push each other to exert themselves. There are thousands of races being held throughout the world every year.

People from all over the planet come together to share their love of running and compete against one another. The best part is that everyone wins – you get fitter and become part of the close knit community. 

Megan Rinzel
Latest posts by Megan Rinzel (see all)