Ultramarathons, or ultras, are any running races beyond the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles (or 42.2k). The most common ultra distances are 50k, 100k, 50 miles, or 100 miles, but each event is unique in terms of distance and terrain. The International Association of Athletics Federation recognises world records at ultramarathon events that have a distance of 100km. There are even 24hr ultramarathons, where the distance is unlimited, or multiday ultras, where the distance can extend beyond 1000km. There are a couple of city-based ultramarathons, but most ultras make the most of the UK's stunning scenery and countryside. A lot of these events go off-road and require trail-running over difficult terrain with steep climbs or along rugged coastlines. The Race to the Stones is one of the UK's best and most popular ultra marathons, taking in 100km of the historic Ridgeway. Or there is the famous Dragon's Back Race, which takes place over 5 days, taking runners from North to South Wales and requiring ascents adding up to twice the elevation of Mount Everest.
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About ultramarathons in the UK
Ultramarathons, or ultra runs, are endurance running races or treks beyond the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.2k). The most common distances for ultra running are 50k, 100k, 50 miles, or 100 miles (aka centurion races). Ultras take place on roads or trails across the UK, and some last for 24 hours or multiple days. Some multi-day stage races are even self-sufficient, where runners must carry all of there equipment and provisions with them for the duration of the race.
What are the best UK ultra marathons?
The best attended ultramarathons in the UK are the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones along the famous Ridgeway, with 2,500 participants, and the historic Thames Path Challenge, with 3,000 participants. The Ridgeway 40 is one of the best value ultramarathons in the UK. For the best scenic ultras, the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia are popular areas for mountainous ultras, or for coastal routes, try out the Jurassic Coast and The Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series. The longest ultra race in the UK is the Monarch's Way Ultra, which covers 615-miles (990k) in the course of 14 days. There are many ultra marathon events across the UK to choose from, depending on your preferences. Check out our list of UK ultra marathons to find the best event for you.
How long should I train for an ultramarathon?
It is important to devote a significant amount of time and effort to training if you are wanting to complete an ultramarathon. Everybody has different levels of fitness and the race distances vary, so it is difficult to be precise with training plans. Most first-time ultrarunners will already have lots of running experience, so 6-10 weeks of specific training should get you ready for a 50k ultra. During your training, it is also important to get used to in-race nutrition and running on trails.