Cross country running
Ultramarathoners compete at the Sahara Race 2011 (4 Deserts).
Highest governing body IAAF
World Championships 1987-

An ultramarathon, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi).


There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during 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 (80.4672 km), and 100 miles (160.9344 km), although many races have other distances. The 100 kilometers is recognized as an official world record event by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of track and field.[1]

Other distances/times include double marathons, 24-hour races, and multiday races of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) or even longer. The format of these events and the courses vary, ranging from single oiple loops (some as short as a 400-metre (1,300 ft) track),[2] 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 20 to 35 kilometres (12 to 22 mi) 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, 6, and 10 days (known as multi-day or "stage race" events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile (1.6 km) or less.[3]

Considered to be a tougher event are self-supported ultramarathon stage races where each competitor has to carry all their supplies including food to survive the length of the race, typically a week. A good example of this is the Grand to Grand Ultra, America's first ever self-supported ultramarathon stage race.

The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) organises the World Championships for various ultramarathon distances, including 50 kilometres (31 mi), 100 kilometres (62 mi), 24 hours, and ultra trail running, which are also recognized by the IAAF. 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.

Racewalking events are usually 50 km, although 100 km and 100 mile (160 km) "Centurion" races are also organized. Furthermore, the non-competitive International Marching League event Nijmegen Four Days March has a regulation distance of 4 × 50 km over three days for men aged 19–49.[4]

IAU World Best Performances


Event Venue Record Athlete Date Place Ref
50 km Road 2:43:38  Thompson Magawana (RSA) 12 April 1988 Claremont, South Africa [5]
50 km Track 2:48:06  Jeff Norman (GBR) 7 June 1980 Timperley, United Kingdom [5]
100 km Road 6:09:14  Nao Kazami (JPN) 24 June 2018 Yubetsu-Saroma-Tokoro, Japan [6]
100 km Track 6:10:20  Donald Ritchie (GBR) 28 Oct 1978 London, United Kingdom [5]
100 miles Road 11:46:37  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 7-8 Nov 1984 Queens, New York, USA [5]
100 miles Track 11:28:03  Oleg Kharitonov (RUS) 20 Oct 2002 London, United Kingdom [5]
100 miles Indoor 12:56:13  Donald Ritchie (GBR) 3-4 Feb 1990 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom [5]
6H Road 92.188 km  Tomasz Chawawko (POL) 7 Mar 2004 Stein, Netherland [5]
6H Track 97.200 km  Donald Ritchie (GBR) 28 Oct 1978 London, United Kingdom [5]
6H Indoor 93.247 km  Denis Zhalybin (RUS) 7-8 Feb 2003 Moscow, Russia [5]
12H Road 162.543 km  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 7 Nov 1984 New York City, USA [5]
12H Track 163.600 km  Zach Bitter (USA) 14 Dec 2013 Phoenix, USA [5]
12H Indoor 146.296 km  Ryoichi Sekiya (JPN) 11 Feb 2007 Lohja Citymarket, Finland [5]
24H Road 290.221 km  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 2–3 May 1998 Basel, Switzerland [5]
24H Track 303.506 km  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 4-5 Oct 1997 Adelaide, Australia [5]
24H Indoor 257.576 km  Nikolai Safin (RUS) 27-28 Feb 1993 Podolsk, Russia [5]
48H Road 433.095 km  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 2–3 May 1998 Basel, Switzerland [5]
48H Track 473.495 km  Yiannis Kouros (GRE) 3–5 May 1996 Surgeres, France [5]
48H Indoor 426.178 km  Tony Mangan (IRL) 16 Mar 2007 Brno, Czech Republic [5]


Event Venue Record Athlete Date Place Ref
50 km Road 3:08:39  Frith van der Merwe (RSA) 25 March 1989 Claremont, South Africa [5]
50 km Track 3:18:52  Carolyn Hunter-Rowe (GBR) 3 March 1996 Barry, Wales United Kingdom [5]
50 Miles Road 5:38:41  Camille Herron (USA) 24 October 2015 Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA [7]
50 Miles Track 5:48:12  Norimi Sakurai (JPN) 28 September 2003 San Giovanni Lupatoto, Italy [7]
100 km Road 6:33:11  Tomoe Abe (JPN) 25 June 2000 Yubetsu-Saroma-Tokoro, Japan [5]
100 km Track 7:14:06  Norimi Sakurai (JPN) 27 Sept 2003 San Giovanni Lupatoto, Italy [5]
100 miles Road 12:42:40  Camille Herron (USA) 11 Nov 2017 Vienna, IL, USA [5]
100 miles Track 13:45:49  Gina Slaby (USA) 10 Dec 2016 Phoenix, USA [8]
100 miles Indoor 14:43:40  Eleanor Robinson (GBR) 3-4 Feb 1990 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom [5]
6H Road 83.275 km  Nele Alder-Baerens (GER) 2 April 2016 Nuremberg, Germany [5]
6H Track 83.200 km  Norimi Sakurai (JPN) 27 Sept 2003 San Giovanni Lupatoto, Italy [5]
6H Indoor 80.600 km  Marina Bychkova (RUS) 7-8 Feb 2003 Moscow, Russia [5]
12H Road 144.840 km  Ann Trason (USA) 4 May 1991 Queens, New York, USA [5]
12H Track 149.130 km  Camille Herron (USA) 9-10 Dec 2017 Phoenix, Arizona, USA [5]
12H Indoor 135.799 km  Sumie Inagaki (JPN) 11 Feb 2007 Lohja Citymarket, Finland [5]
24H Road 259.991 km  Patrycja Bereznowska (POL) 1-2 July 2017 Belfast, UK [5]
24H Track 255.303 km  Mami Kudo (Kudou, Kudoh) (JPN) 9-10 Dec 2011 Soochow, Taipei [5]
24H Indoor 240.631 km  Sumie Inagaki (JPN) 29-30 Jan 2011 Espoo, Finland [5]
48H Road 401.000 km  Patrycja Bereznowska (POL) 26-28 Jan 2018 Athens, Greece [5]
48H Track 397.103 km  Sumie Inagaki (JPN) 21–23 May 2010 Surgeres, France [5]
48H Indoor 390.024 km  Traci Falbo (USA) 4-6 Aug 2014 Anchorage, USA [5]

IAU World Championships

There are four IAU World Championships: the IAU 100 km World Championships, IAU 50 km World Championships, IAU 24 Hour World Championship, and the IAU Trail World Championship.[9]

IAU 100 km World Championships

Year Location Champion (m) Champion (f)
1987 Torhout  Domingo Catalán (ESP)  Agnes Eberle (SUI)
1988 Santander  Domingo Catalán (ESP)  Ann Trason (USA)
1989 Rambouillet  Bruno Scelsi (FRA)  Katherina Janicke (FRG)
1990 Duluth  Roland Vuillemenot (FRA)  Eleanor Adams (GBR)
1991 Faenza  Valmir Nuñes (BRA)  Eleanor Adams (GBR)
1992 Palamós  Konstantin Santalov (RUS)  Nurzia Bagmanova (RUS)
1993 Torhout  Konstantin Santalov (RUS)  Carolyn Hunter-Rowe (GBR)
1994 Yubetsu/Saroma/Tokoro  Aleksey Volgin (RUS)  Valentina Shatyeyeva (RUS)
1995 Winschoten  Valmir Nuñes (BRA)  Ann Trason (USA)
1996 Moscow  Konstantin Santalov (RUS)  Valentina Shatyeyeva (RUS)
1997 Winschoten  Sergey Yanenko (UKR)  Valentina Lyakhova (RUS)
1998 Shimanto  Grigoriy Murzin (RUS)  Carolyn Hunter-Rowe (GBR)
1999 Chavagnes-en-Paillers  Simon Pride (GBR)  Anna Balosáková (SVK)
2000 Winschoten  Pascal Fétizon (FRA)  Edit Bérces (HUN)
2001 Cléder  Yasufumi Mikami (JPN)  Yelvira Kolpakova (RUS)
2002 Torhout  Mario Fattore (ITA)  Tatyana Zhyrkova (RUS)
2003 Tainan  Mario Fattore (ITA)  Monica Casiraghi (ITA)
2004 Winschoten  Mario Ardemagni (ITA)  Tatyana Zhyrkova (RUS)
2005 Yubetsu/Saroma/Tokoro  Grigoriy Murzin (RUS)  Hiroko Sho (JPN)
2006 Misari  Yannick Djouadi (FRA)  Elizabeth Hawker (GBR)
2007 Winschoten  Shinichi Watanabe (JPN)  Norimi Sakurai (JPN)
2008 Rome  Giorgio Calcaterra (ITA)  Tatyana Zhyrkova (RUS)
2009 Torhout  Yasukazu Miyazato (JPN)  Kami Semick (USA)
2010 Gibraltar  Shinji Nakadai (JPN)  Ellie Greenwood (GBR)
2011 Winschoten  Giorgio Calcaterra (ITA)  Marina Bychkova (RUS)
2012 Seregno  Giorgio Calcaterra (ITA)  Amy Sproston (USA)
2013 cancelled
2014 Doha  Max King (USA)  Ellie Greenwood (GBR)
2015 Winschoten  Jonas Buud (SWE)  Camille Herron (USA)
2016 Los Alcázares  Hideaki Yamauchi (JPN)  Kirstin Bull (AUS)

World or national-record holding or world-championship-winning ultramarathon runners

For reliable and updated information, see the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) annual report of current world records on its newest "World's Best Performances" page in statistics.

  • 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[1][10]
  • Takahiro Sunada, current men's 100 km Road world record holder (6:13:33, Saroma JP, 1998)[1][10]
  • Tomoe Abe, current women's 100 km Road world record holder (6:33:11, Saroma JP, 2000)[1][10]
  • Ryōichi Sekiya, four time IAU 24-hour run World Championship winner, Asia record holder of 24-hour run (274.884 kilometres (170.805 mi)),[10] two-time winner of Spartathlon [11]
  • Shingo Inoue, 2010 winner of IAU 24-hour run World Championship (273.708 kilometres (170.074 mi))[10]
  • Mami Kudo, current women's 24h Track world record holder(255.303 kilometres (158.638 mi), Soochow TPE, 2011),[12] current women's 48h Road world record holder(368.687 kilometres (229.091 mi), Athens GRE, Apr 2011),[13] 2013 female winner of IAU 24-hour run World Championship[14]
  • Sumie Inagaki, current women's 24h Indoor world record holder (240.631 kilometres (149.521 mi) Espoo FIN, Jan 2011),[10] current women's 48h Track world record holder(397.103 kilometres (246.748 mi), Surgeres FRA, May 2010),[10] two time female winner of IAU 24-hour run World Championship, two time female winner of Spartathlon [11]
  • Norimi Sakurai, current women's 100 km Track world record holder (7:14:06, Lupatotissima ITA, Sep 2003),[10] current women's 6H Track world record holder (83.200 kilometres (51.698 mi), Lupatoto Verone ITA, Sept 2003),[10] 2007 female winner of IAU 24-hour run World Championship[14]
  • Suprabha Beckjord female and Wolfgang Schwerk male record holder 3100 mile Race [15]
  • 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
  • Al Howie, World Record Holder for the trans-Canada, 7295.5 kilometres in 72 days, 10 hours and 23 minutes.
  • 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, formerly held the US 100 mile track record holder (12:27:01), naturalist
  • Shaul Ladany, Israeli racewalker, world record holder in the 50-mile walk, former world champion in the 100-kilometer walk[16][17]
  • 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
  • Elena Nurgalieva and her sister Olesya Nurgalieva have won a total of 10 Comrades Marathon titles between them; Elena holds the uphill course record (6:09:24)
  • Ann Trason, fourteen time Western States Endurance Run winner and former female course record holder; 2-time winner of the Comrades Marathon; formerly or currently holds numerous American and World Records; American 100k record holder (7:00:48)
  • Cliff Young, former winner Westfield Sydney to Melbourne; holds numerous world age records
  • Arun Bhardwaj, first Indian to compete in and win the George Archer 6 day race in South Africa, completed a 4,000+ km run from Kargil, India to Kanyakumari, India, in 61 days.
  • Camille Herron, first ultra athlete to win 2 World titles in the same year (2015- 50K and 100K); 2017 Comrades Marathon Champion; holds the World Best for 50 Miles (5:38:41), 100 Mile Road and Trail World Record (12:42:40), and 12 Hour World Record.

Ultramarathons by regions

Ultra Marathons are run around the world with more than 70,000 people completing them every year.


Several ultra distance events are held in Africa.

  • South Africa hosts a number of notable ultra marathon events.
    • On paved surface: the world's oldest and largest ultramarathon, the 87 kilometres (54 mi) Comrades Marathon. Approximately 12,000 runners complete the Comrades each year, out of approximately 17000 who start, with 23,961 competing in 2000.[18]
    • The 56-kilometre (35 mi) Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in the southern autumn attracts approximately 11,000 runners.
    • The Washie 100 road race is the oldest one hundred miler road race in Africa.
    • Off road: The Salomon Sky Run is a gruelling 100 kilometres (62 mi) self-supported, unmarked trail race held in a particularly scenic part of the country.
    • Trail: The Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (PUFfeR) 80 kilometres (50 mi) supported, unmarked trail run crossing the Table Mountain range in Cape Town South Africa.
  • The Marathon des Sables is a 6-day stage race which covers 250 kilometres (160 mi) 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 40 countries competing. Due to political instability, the ultramarathon of 250 kilometres (160 mi) has temporarily relocated to the Namib Desert.
  • The Grand Raid de la Réunion is held annually on Réunion in October, crossing the island over 163 kilometres (101 mi) with an altitude gain of 9,643 metres (31,637 ft). This race attracts 2,350 competitors, with 1,000 runners from overseas.


Ultrarunning has become popular in Asia recently, and countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have hosted IAU World Championships.

  • Japan had its first 100 km event in 1987 as Lake Saroma Ultramarathon and hosted IAU 100 km World Championship in 1994 (Lake Saroma), 1998 (River Shimanto) and 2005 (Lake Saroma).[19] Japan hosts more than 50 ultramarathon events throughout the year,[20] among which are Trans Japan Alps Race (TJAR) (415 kilometres (258 mi) with more than 26,000 metres (16 mi) cumulative altitude gain crossing Japan Alps, crossing Japan's mainland from Japan Sea to Pacific Ocean in 7 days),[21][22] Hasetsune cup (71.5 kilometres (44.4 mi) in steep foggy mountains)[23] and Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji (UTMF) (161 kilometres (100 mi) loop around World Heritage Mt. Fuji with cumulative altitude gain of about 9,000 metres (5.6 mi)).[24][25]
  • South Korea's first ultramarathon was held in 2000.
  • The Gobi March in northwest China was China's first ultramarathon, first staged in 2003. The Gobi March is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series.[26]
  • India's first ultra marathon, the Bangalore Ultra was held in 2007.[27][28] Since 2010, Indian Himalayas have hosted La Ultra – The High, a 333 km course crossing Khardung La, touted to be the world's highest motorable mountain pass.[29]
  • Soochow International 24H Ultra-Marathon is held since 1999 in Taipei, and is an official IAU-registered event.
  • A night race called the Sundown Marathon has been held in Singapore annually since 2008, over a double marathon distance (84 km) up to 2010 and 100 km since then.[30]
  • Nepal hosts several ultramarathon races,[31] including the Annapurna 100, the Kanchenjunga Ultra Marathon Trail Running Race [32] and the Everest Ultra.[33]. Running a total of 1,504 km in a bit more than 24 days, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set a new fastest known time during March 2018 for the Great Himalaya Trail.
  • Northern Mongolia hosts an annual 100 km summer race, Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset.[34]
  • Malaysia's first ultra trail marathon was founded in November 2011 and is known as the TMBT (The Most Beautiful Thing) in Sabah at Mount Kinabalu, South East Asia's highest mountain. The event has a 55% drop out rate and is a 3-point qualifying race for Ultra Du Mont Blanc and a 2-point qualifying race for the 55 kilometer category of the event. This was followed by the Beaufort Ultra Marathon in Sabah organized in 2012 and a 60 kilometer endurance run under 35-39 degree Celsius morning and afternoon heat with a 60% finish rate amongst runners.[35] First 100 miles ultra marathon road race, Putrajaya 100 Miles, was held on 22–23 November 2014. The first 200 km ultra will be held on 6–8 March 2015 in Titi, Selangor (TITI100). Other ultra races such as Back2Endurance, G5N, and Gunung Nuang Ultra were organized by the Malaysia Ultra Running
  • Indonesia's first ultramarathon race, Mount Rinjani Ultra (52K), was held on August 2013 and Indonesia's first 100K & 160K ultramarathon race, Bromo Tengger Semeru 100 Ultra, was held on November 2013. Tambora Challenge (320KM) held from 2015
  • In the Cebu, Philippines, Ultramarathons has gained quite a number of followers. An All-Women Ultra Marathon race covering a distance of 50 kilometers is held annually on the weekend of International Women's Day since 2012.[36]
  • Clark Freeport Zone in the Philippines is the venue for two of the Philippines premier ultramarathon events. The Clark Miyamit Ultra, known as CM50 a 60K and 50Mile Trail Ultramarathon that takes runners to traverse from Clark to the Aeta Villages, lahar bed, mountain ranges near Mt. Pinatubo and the iconic Miyamit Falls. Cardimax - Clark Ultramarathon is a road ultramarathon of 50K and 100K distance which brings and gathers ultramarathoners from aspiring ones to the most competitive elites.
  • In Israel, two major ultramarathon races are commenced annually - Mount to Valley relay race; over 215 km, from the hills of the Upper Galilee to the Jezreel Valley, and the Valley Circle race in the Jezreel valley; contains several distances, including 160 km and 200 km.

Oceania, Australia, and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are hosts to some 100 organized ultramarathons each year. Additionally a handful of runners have run the entire length of New Zealand, a distance of around 2,200 kilometres (1,400 mi).[37] The most recent runners being Lisa Tamati and Andrew Hedgman who both completed the challenge separately in 2009 and 2010.


In Australia, the Westfield Ultra Marathon was an annual race between Sydney and Melbourne 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 close races 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 1,036.851 kilometres (644.269 mi). 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.

Australia has seen a steep growth in Ultrarunning events and participants in recent years. Many new races have come into inception, covering a range of Ultramarathon distances from 50 km right through to multi-day events. The cornerstone of Australian Ultra events being such races as; Ultra-Trail Australia 100, Bogong To Hotham, Alpine Challenge, and the Cradle Mountain Run.[38] The Australian Ultra Runners Association (AURA) has a comprehensive list and links of events and their respective results.[39]

In 2018 two Australians became the 7th (Thomas Cripps) and 8th (Roger Box) people to be admitted to the Official 7 Continents Ultramarathon Club.

New Zealand

New Zealand's first ultramarathon called The Kepler Challenge was held on a 60 kilometres (37 mi) trail through Fiordland National Park, which has been running since 1988 and is one of the country's most popular races. New Zealand's Northburn 100 ultra mountain run is the first 100-mile (160 km) race through the Northburn Station. The world-famous Te Houtaewa Challenge has a 62 km race on ninety mile beach, Northland. The field of international and local runners have to contend with rising tides and soft beach sand and the March race dates often means the race is run in the cyclone season. In 2014 the ultramarathon was postponed because of Cyclone Lucy. In 2016 the race will be in its jubilee and the 25th anniversary will see many of its past runners compete for the honour of the ultimate challenge winner. The Tarawera Ultramarathon is currently one of the most competitive ultras in New Zealand and part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour.[40]

In November 2012, Kim Allan planned to run and/or walk 500 kilometres (310 mi) nonstop, without sleep, on the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile track at the Auckland Domain. Her aim was to beat ultrarunner Pam Reed's record of 300 miles (480 km).[41] According to her Facebook page, she only managed 385.8 kilometres (239.7 mi). She eventually passed the 500 kilometre mark at 86 hours, 11 minutes, and 9 seconds, breaking the 486 kilometres (302 mi) women's record.[42]

In April 2013, a Feilding man, Perry Newburn, set a new New Zealand record by running 483 kilometres (300 mi) without sleep at Feilding's Manfield Park.[43]

Ultramarathon running in New Zealand has a national body: the New Zealand Ultrarunners Association.


Papua New Guinea has the Kokoda Challenge Race, an annual 96 km endurance race held in late August that runs the length of the historic Kokoda Track.[44]

Papua New Guinea also has the Great Kokoda Race, a multi-stage 96 km (3 day) race held in early July where competitors run or walk the length of the Kokoda Track.[45]


In Europe, ultrarunning can trace its origins with early documentation of ultrarunners from Icelandic sagas, or ancient Greece from where the idea of the Marathon, and the Spartathlon comes. 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. The European Ultramarathon Cup is an annual cup event covering some of the biggest Ultramarathon races in Europe.[46] Also worth mentioning is the ultramarathon CajaMar Tenerife Bluetrail, the highest race in Spain and second in Europe,[47] with the participation of several countries and great international repercussions.

There are over 300 ultramarathons held in Europe each year,. This includes the Harz Run in the Harz Mountains, the Irish Connemarathon, the British Bob Graham Round, Spine Race and Welsh Dragon's Back which covers 315km with 15,500m of height gain [48].


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.[49] Ultramarathons in Antarctica include: The Last Desert, part of the 4 Deserts Race Series, a multi-stage footrace, and the Antarctic Ice Marathon – a marathon and 100-kilometer race.

North America

There are several hundred ultramarathons held annually in North America. One of the best known 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, and at the time was 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).[15] The current recordholder is Ashprihanal Pekka Aalto, at 40 days 09:06:21 for a daily average of 76.776 miles (123.559 km) in 2015.

The latest Trans-American Footrace (2015) winner was Robert HP Young (Marathon Man UK) Winning in a time of 482 hours 10 minutes 00 seconds [50]

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 began her ultra career at age 42 with a world record at 50 kilometers, 3:36:56, and who went on to set a number of US and world ultra records.

South America

There are a small number of ultramarathons in South America, but participation in the sport is increasing. The Brazil 135 Ultramarathon is a single-stage race of 135 miles ( 217 km) with a 60-hour cutoff, held in Brazil. This is a Badwater "sister race".[51] Several ultramarathons are held in Chile and with both local and international participation.[52] Ultramarathons held in Chile include:

  • Atacama Xtreme 50K, 80K and the first 100 Miles in Chile. One loop for each distance starting and finishing in San Pedro de Atacama at an avg. of 2,400 above sea level.[53]
  • The Endurance Challenge, a 10K, 21K, 50K and 80K trail running race held in the Andes mountain range near Santiago. It is part of the global Endurance Challenge circuit. The race seeks to promote the sport, outdoor activity and the use of mountain trails, taking care to have the lowest impact possible on the environment.
  • The Lican Ray-Villarrica Ultramarathon, a 70 km marathon that starts in Lican Ray, climbs Villarrica Volcano and ends in downtown Villarrica.
  • The Atacama Crossing, established in 2004, a 250 km (155 mile) ultramarathon which takes place in the Atacama desert, around San Pedro de Atacama, Chile,[54] and crosses through the driest place on earth. There are six stages in seven days, with almost four marathons run in the first four days, then a 74 km stretch, then a rest day and a final stage of 11 km. It is part of the 4 Deserts Series. The race covers rugged terrain, with a harsh climate and an altitude that averages 2500 m (8000 ft). The race uses the town of San Pedro de Atacama as its host town, and in 2012 the race began at its highest point of over 3,000m in the Arcoiris Valley.
  • The Patagonian International Marathon, organized by NIGSA, takes place in Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chilean Patagonia. The event features four race distances: an ultramarathon (63 km), marathon (42 km), half marathon (21 km) and a 10K. Each distance has a different starting point, but everyone finishes in the same place. The event has the secondary goal of promoting the conservation of Chilean Patagonia and contributing to the sustainable development of the region through the planting of trees in the Torres del Paine National Park through the "Corre y Reforesta" (Run and Reforest) campaign[55] run by the organization "Reforestemos Patagonia" (Let's Reforest Patagonia)[56]
  • The Rapa Nui GrandTrail, an 80k ultramarathon that takes place on Easter Island, Valparaíso Region, Chile. This exotic trail, far out in the Pacific Ocean, takes in the famous Moai statues of the island.[57]

International Trail Running Association (ITRA)

Many ultramarathon organizers are members of the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), an organization which promotes values, diversity, health and safety during races, as well as working to further the development of trail running and helps to coordinate between the national and international bodies with an interest in the sport. ITRA also evaluates of the difficulty of specific ultramarathon routes according to a number of criteria, such as the distance, the cumulative elevation gain, and the number of loops and stages. ITRA maintains a calendar of ultramarathon events.

Born to Run

In 2009, Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run was released. It contained both anthropological and scientific information, and is about a society of ultramarathoners. It was not the first book written specifically about ultramarathons, but McDougall included controversial conclusions about humanity's roots in long distance running that attracted attention to the sport. It became a national bestseller and a Forbes and Washington Post book of the year.

See also


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