The Ultimate Ultra Marathon Bucket List
There are many reasons for why so many athletes choose to submit their bodies to the ultimate test of physical endurance and mental tenacity.
Ultra marathons offer beautiful views, a unique experience due to incredible variety, and a truly intimate experience among runners.
Running an ultra-marathon is a life adventure like no other, and below are some of the world’s ultimate events that every endurance athlete should add to their bucket list.
Ultra X Jordan
The world-famous Ultra X Jordan (previously called the Wadi Rum Ultra) takes place in the land of Lawrence of Arabia, in the Wadi Rum desert, which is located in southern Jordan.
The marathon’s desert course leads runners over stunning and challenging sand dunes, into theatrical wadis, and past some historical world sites.
Nicknamed the “Valley of the Moon”, the landscape is dominated by majestic towering rock formations. It is an ultra-marathon course that is unrivalled in its beauty.
The race is completed over 5 days and spans a distance of 250km. It is now in its 7th year.
The Comrades Marathon
Competed every year in South Africa, the Comrades Marathon is the Superbowl of the running world.
The Comrades, which was named in remembrance of the soldiers killed during the war, is the world’s oldest as well as largest marathon.
The first race was staged in 1921, and since then, more than 300 runners have completed it. The race is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, with the direction alternating each year.
The Comrades Marathon covers a distance of 90km.
Western States Endurance Run
The Western States Endurance Run is officially the oldest ultra-marathon in the world.
Runners have 30 hours to complete the race, with some miles being run on snow and others on sweltering hot trails. The route crosses through the beauty of the Emigrant Pass, the California gold country canyons, and the arctic-cold waters of the American River. The official distance is 161km.
Run along the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains, the Hardrock 100 is considered one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world.
The course spans extremely rugged terrain, with runners having to navigate steep climbing and descending over snow and through river crossings and boulder fields.
The average finish time is 40 hours, and the race spans 161km. To complete the race successfully, athletes must kiss the famous Hardrock at the end of the course. This superstition is a lot like those who gamble or wager on Breeders Cup odds and have a lucky talisman to help them win.
Yet another desert race, the Atacama Crossing takes runners across one of the driest places on earth, Chile’s Atacama Desert.
With daytime temperatures often reaching 40 degrees C+, it is a race of true endurance.
What’s more, since this ultra-marathon is a self-supported race, runners are required to carry everything they may need for seven days on their backs.
The Atacama Crossing is run over 250km and 7 days.
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) takes place in France’s Chamonix Mountain resort.
The event is completed over 350km and 7 days, with the best runners typically completing the loop in just over 20 hours. Most runners find themselves having to run through to nights to complete the gruelling event.