There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time). The most common distances are 50 kilometres (31.069 mi), 100 kilometres (62.137 mi), 50 miles (80.467 km) and 100 miles (160.934 km), although many races have other distances. The 100 kilometers is an official IAAF world record event.
Other distances/times include double marathons, 24-hour races, and multiday races of 1000 miles or even longer. The format of these events and the courses vary, ranging from single or multiple loops (some as short as a 400-meter track), to point-to-point road or trail races, to cross-country rogaines. Many ultramarathons, especially trail challenges, have severe course obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain. Many of these races are run on dirt roads or mountain paths, though some are run on paved roads as well. Usually, there are aid stations every 5 to 15 km apart, where runners can replenish food and drink supplies or take a short break.
Timed events range from 6, 12, and 24 hours to 3 and 6 days and 10 days (known as multi-day events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile or less.
The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) organises the World Championships for various ultramarathon distances, including 50 km, 100 km, 24 hours and ultra trail running. These events are sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of track and field. Many countries around the world have their own ultrarunning organizations, often the national athletics federation of that country, or are sanctioned by such national athletics organizations. World records for distances, times and ages are tracked by the IAU.
Ultramarathons are run around the world and more than 70,000 people complete ultramarathons every year.
Several ultra distance events are held in Africa. South Africa hosts the world's oldest and largest ultramarathon, the 90 km Comrades Marathon. Approximately 12,000 runners complete Comrades each year, with over 24,500 in 2000. It also hosts the 56-kilometer Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in the southern autumn which attracts approximately 7000 runners. Marathon des Sables is a 6 day stage race which covers 250 km through the Sahara desert in Morocco. The Sahara Race in Egypt, part of the 4 Deserts series, is held annually with about 150 competitors from 30 countries competing. There is also an ultramarathon of 250 km across the Namib desert.
Ultrarunning has become popular in Asia recently, and countries such as Taiwan, Japan, and Korea have hosted IAU World Championships in the last few years. Korea's first ultramarathon was held in 2000. India's first ultra marathon  was held in 2007, in Bangalore. The Gobi March, first held in 2003, in northwest China was China's first ultramarathon. Singapore has a double marathons night race called Sundown Marathon  since 2008 it has since increased the distance to 100km in 2011. Nepal hosts several ultramarathon races including the Annapurna 100, the Kanchenjunga Ultra Marathon Trail Running Race, first held in 2009 which starts from Phunlin Bazaar (near Taplejung) at the Nepal and Sikkim border, and the Everest Ultra. Mongolia hosts during June of each year the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset marathon (www.ultramongolia.com/).
Oceania, Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are host to some 100 ultramarathons each year. An Australian ultramarathon was the Westfield Ultra Marathon, an annual race between Sydney and Melbourne which was contested between 1983 and 1991. Greek runner Yiannis Kouros won the event five times during that period. Australia is also the home of one of the oldest six-day races in the world, the Cliff Young Australian 6-day race, held in Colac, Victoria. The race is held on a 400-meter circuit at the Memorial Square in the centre of Colac, and has seen many epic battles since its inception in 1984. The 20th Cliff Young Australian six-day race was held between 20 and 26 November 2005. During that event, Kouros beat his existing world record six-day track mark and set a new mark of 1036.851 km. The Coast to Kosciuszko inaugurated in 2004, is a 246-kilometre (153 mi) marathon from the coast to the top of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest mountain.
The first ultramarathon held in New Zealand was on a 100 km track. The Kepler Challenge, 60 km through Fiordland National Park, has been running since 1988 and is one of the country's most popular races.
Ultrarunning is popular in Europe, and the sport can trace its origins here with early documentation of ultrarunners came from Icelandic sagas. The history of ultrarunners and walkers in the UK from the Victorian Era has also been documented. The IAU hosts annual European Championships for the 50 km, 100 km and 24 hours. There are over 300 ultramarathons held in Europe each year. Some of the largest events include:
- The JOGLE Ultra - 1375km (860 miles) over 16 days from John o'Groats to Lands End, Scotland/Wales/England - UK
- The Swiss Alpine Marathon 78 km, from Davos, Switzerland.
- The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc which consists of a 166 km loop around Mont Blanc including 9400 m total elevation gain.
- The 100 km del Passatore Florence - Faenza Italy (www.100kmdelpassatore.it).
- The 100 km of Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.
- The 72.7 km Rennsteiglauf in the Thuringian Forest, Germany.
- The 230 km Al Andalus Ultra-Trail is a stage race over five days in the July sun and heat of Poniente Granadino, Andalucia, Spain.
- The Lakeland 100 (UTLD) which has a circular route encompassing much of the Lakeland fell area, including in the region of 6300m of ascent and consisting entirely of public bridleways and footpaths.
- The ULTRArace.100 which has a circular route of 100 miles of road in The Cotswold Hills with an overall ascent of 2248m.
- The second oldest ultramarathon in the world, London to Brighton, was widely considered to be among the most prestigious titles until its retirement in 2005. As of 2010 London to Brighton has been recaptured as a trail run.
- Day Runners - Athens International Ultramarathon Festival (24h, 48h, 72h, 6days, 1000k, 1000m) - www.dayrunners.gr
- The Rodopi Ultra Trail is the first 100 mile trail race in Greece and wanders the vast forests of the Rodopi mountain range, one of the biggest ranges of the Balkan peninsula.
The European Ultramarathon Cup (ECU) is an annual series covering several of the biggest races in different European countries.
- An extreme challenge in Germany is the annual multiday Deutschlandlauf (Germany Run) over 1200 km.
- In Portugal, the "Ultramaratona das Areias" race covers 43 kilometres on the sand of southern beaches under the blazing sun of summer.
- In southern Spain, the "La Legion 101KM en 24 Horas" is a popular ultramarathon in and around the Andalucian town of Ronda in the province of Malaga. The race in May is organized and supported by the Spanish Foreign Legion.
- In Greece, Spartathlon is held every last weekend of September since 1983. It's a non-stop historic ultra-distance foot race covering 246 km from Athens to Sparta. It's considered one of the most difficult ultramarathon races due to the weather conditions encountered by the runners (heat and humidity during the day and cold during the night hours) and the non-stop profile of the race.
Due to logistics and environmental concerns there are only a handful of ultramarathons held in Antarctica, and travel costs can mean entrance fees as high as $14,000. Ultramarathons in Antarctica include: The Last Desert, a multi-stage footrace, and the Antarctic Ice Marathon – a marathon and 100-kilometer race.
There are several hundred ultramarathons held annually in North America. One of the most popular is the Western States Endurance Run, the world's oldest 100-mile trail run. The race began unofficially in 1974, when local horseman Gordy Ainsleigh's horse for the 100-mile Tevis Cup horse race came up lame. He decided to travel the course on foot, finishing in 23 hours and 47 minutes.
One of the first documented ultramarathons in North America was held in 1926, as part of the Central American Games. Tomas Zafiro and Leoncio San Miguel, both Tarahumara Indians, ran 100 km from Pachuca to Mexico City in 9 hours and 37 minutes. At the time, the Mexican government petitioned to include a 100 km race in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam; however, nothing came of these efforts.
In 1928, sports agent C. C. Pyle organized the first of two editions of the 3,455-mile-long Bunion Derby (the first went along U.S. Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago before heading toward New York; the 1929 Derby reversed the route). Neither the race nor the accompanying vaudeville show was a financial success.
Since 1997, runners have been competing in the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, which is billed as the longest official footrace in the world. They run 100 laps a day for up to 50 days around a single block in Queens, NY, for a total distance of 3,100 miles (5,000 km).
In April 2006, the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame was established by the American Ultrarunning Association (AUA). Candidates for the Hall of Fame are chosen from the 'modern era' of American ultras, beginning with the New York Road Runners Club 30 Mile race held in 1958. The Inaugural inductees were Ted Corbitt, a former US Olympian, winner of the aforementioned race in 3:04:13, and co-founder of the Road Runners Club of America, and Sandra Kiddy, who kicked off her ultra career at age 42 with a world record at 50 kilometers, 3:36:56, and who went on to set a string of US and world ultra records.
There are fewer ultra marathons in South America, The Jungle Ultra multi-day multi-stage race through the Amazon Rainforest in Peru. The race is 230km long with a 90km long stage after day 4. Competitors are self sufficient carrying all their own equipment and provisions such as water, food, hammocks and first aid kits. There is also the Atacama Crossing, part of the 4 Deserts Series, which is a desert race through the Atacama Desert, another multi-day stage race covering 250km in total.
List of ultramarathons
This is only a partial list of events. For a full list, see Ultramarathon Running's Calendar and local countries' ultrarunning websites.
Road and dirt paths
- Sundown Ultra Marathon Singapore 100 km
- Biel/Bienne 100 km
- Comrades Marathon
- Grand Union Canal 145 mile Race
- Haney to Harrison 100k Ultra
- London to Brighton
- Dartmoor Discovery
- Two Oceans Marathon
- Way Too Cool 50 Kilometer
- JFK 50 Mile
- TW 50k Ultra
- Keys 100
- Berlin 100 Miles
- RUN Winschoten, Netherlands
- 100km del Passatore
- 100km Volta ao Lago Caixa (website in Portuguese)
Mountain and trails
- Marathon des Sables
- 6633 Ultra: The Arctic, Canada
- Badwater Ultramarathon
- / / / 4 Deserts
- Namibian ultra marathon
- Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon
- Pinhoti 100 Mile Endurance Run Alabama
- Arrowhead Winter Ultramarathon
- Al Andalus Ultra Trail
- The Jungle Ultra
Very long events and multidays
- Bruce Trail, Ontario, Canada 800 kilometers in (10–15 days).
- The Bunion Derby, Los Angeles to New York 3,455 miles (3 months).
- Lake Balaton Supermarathon, Hungary (4 days)
- Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race
- Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 day
- Trans Europe Foot Race
IAU 100km World Championships
Edition Year City Country Date No. of
24th 2010 Gibraltar Gibraltar 7 November 180 
Prior IAU World Championships were held in the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Korea.
IAAF World Records
Event Record Athlete Nationality Date Meet Place Ref 100 km (road) 6:13:33 Takahiro Sunada Japan 21 June 1998 Tokoro, Japan 
Event Record Athlete Nationality Date Meet Place Ref 100 km (road) 6:33:11 Tomoe Abe Japan 25 June 2000 Yubetsu, Japan 
IAU World Best Performances
Event Record Athlete Nationality Date Meet Place Ref 50000 m (track) 2:48:06 Jeff Norman United Kingdom 7 June 1980 Timperley, United Kingdom  50 km (road) 2:43:38 Thompson Magawana South Africa 12 April 1988 Claremont, South Africa 
Event Record Athlete Nationality Date Meet Place Ref 50000 m (track) 3:18:52 Carol Hunter-Rowe United Kingdom 3 March 1996 Barry,[disambiguation needed ] United Kingdom  50 km (road) 3:08:39 Frith Van Der Merwe South Africa 25 March 1989 Claremont, South Africa 
World or national-record holding or world-championship-winning ultramarathon runners
- Yiannis Kouros, multi-day race legend, holder of numerous world records and world bests from 24 hours to 1,000 miles, course record holder of the Spartathlon since its inception in 1983
- Tomoe Abe, 100 km female world record holder (6:33:11) 
- Suprabha Beckjord, 3100 mile race record holder
- Edit Berces, 24 hour treadmill world record holder; holds several Hungarian records
- Ted Corbitt, "father of American ultrarunning"; 1952 US Olympic team member; former American world record holder at various distances
- Bruce Fordyce, nine time Comrades Marathon winner; African 100K record holder (6:25:07)
- Serge Girard, trans-USA (4,597 km – 1997), trans-South America (5,235 km – 2001), trans-Africa (8,295 km – 2003/2004) and trans-Eurasia (19,097 km – 2005/2006) record holder
- Wally Hayward, Multiple winner of Comrades Marathon, London to Brighton, many other ultramarathons; set early world records
- Bernd Heinrich, US 100 mile track record holder (12:27:01), naturalist
- Vladimir Kotov, former Comrades Marathon winner
- Frith van der Merwe, set Comrades Marathon records for both directions
- Stu Mittleman, US record holder for six day race (578 miles)
- Arthur F. H. Newton, 5 times Comrades Marathon winner
- Takahiro Sunada, 100 km male world record holder (6:13:33) 
- Ann Trason, thirteen time Western States Endurance Run winner and current female course record holder; holds numerous world records, including 100 mile (13:47:41 1991), 50 mile (5:40:18, 1991), and 12 Hours (147.6k, 1991); American 100k record holder (7:00:48)
- Cliff Young, former winner Westfield Sydney to Melbourne; holds numerous world age records
- Giorgio Calcaterra, Italian multiple winner of 100km del Passatore ultramarathon and twice 100km ultramarathon world & European champion.
- Valmir Nunes, Brazilian ultrarunner twice 100km ultramarathon world champion and Badwater ultramarathon winner.
- International Association of Ultrarunners
- Multiday race
- ^ a b c d e iaaf.org – 100 Kilometres Records
- ^ If the loop is less than 1 km, run direction changes every 2-4 (sometimes 6) hours
- ^ http://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch
- ^ competition, many ultramarathons in such exotic places are non-competition
- ^ "Kokoda Challenge". Kokoda Trekking. http://www.kokodatrail.com.au/kokodachallenge.html. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
- ^ Official Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Web Site: UTMB – Profile and details
- ^ Antarctic Ice Marathon Registration
- ^ About the 3100 Mile Race | Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team 3100 Mile Race. 3100.srichinmoyraces.org (2010-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-04-19.
- ^ Nadeem Khan (2010-11-10). "Nakadai and Greenwood win at IAU 100km World Championships". IAAF. http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=100/newsid=58696.html. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- ^ a b c d IAU World Best Performances
- I A U – International Association of Ultra Runners
- Beyond Marathon – Information, day by day calendar, and route maps for worldwide Ultramarathons
- TheUltraMarathon.com – International Web-Links & Ultra Running Art Gallery by Robert Orcutt
- RealEndurance.com – UltraRunning All Time Result Lists
- ULTRAmarathonRunning.com Global Ultramarathon Races & Events Calendar
- The Ultramarathon Store – Ultramarathon calendars covering North America
- Multidays.com – Multiday and ultrarunning news from around the world
- Ultralegends – Ultramarathon history from across the Globe and through the ages
- Nordic Ultra – A bi-monthly e-magazine about ultrarunning with news and articles
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Look at other dictionaries:
ultramarathon — [ul΄trə mar′ə thän΄] n. a footrace that is longer than a marathon, usually for 30 miles or more ultramarathoner n … English World dictionary
Ultramarathon — Ein Ultramarathonläufer beim 32 Meilen langen Wyoming Ultramarathon in den Bighorn Mountains Ein Ultramarathon ist eine Laufveranstaltung über eine Strecke, die länger ist als die Marathondistanz von 42,195 km. Die populärste unter diesen… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Ultramarathon — Ultrafond Coureur d ultrafond lors de l ultramarathon de Wyoming L ultrafond désigne la course à pied de grand fond, c est à dire pour toutes les distances supérieures au marathon soit 42,195 km. L ultrafond s applique aux sorties en solo mais… … Wikipédia en Français
Ultramarathon — Ụltramarathon, Abkürzung UM, zu den Extremsportarten zählende Disziplin mit den klassischen, weltweit verbreiteten Wettbewerben 100 km und 24 Stunden Lauf, mit Läufen über 50 km, 100 Meilen, 1 000 km und 1 000 Meilen sowie die 6 , 12 , 48… … Universal-Lexikon
ultramarathon — noun Date: 1977 a footrace longer than a marathon • ultramarathoner noun … New Collegiate Dictionary
ultramarathon — /ul treuh mar euh thon , theuhn/, n. any footrace of 50 or more miles. [1975 80; ULTRA + MARATHON] * * * … Universalium
ultramarathon — noun A running race over a distance longer than 42.195 km, the length of a marathon … Wiktionary
ultramarathon — ul·tra·marathon … English syllables
ultramarathon — ul•tra•mar•a•thon [[t]ˌʌl trəˈmær əˌθɒn, θən[/t]] n. spo any footrace that is longer than a marathon • Etymology: 1975–80 ul tra•mar′a•thon er, n … From formal English to slang
ultramarathon — /ʌltrəˈmærəθɒn/ (say ultruh maruhthon) noun a marathon covering a longer distance than the usual marathon, with either the distance being set, usually 50 or more kilometres, or the time being set, the winner being the person to cover the most… … Australian English dictionary