The Ultra in Ultra Marathon Running

The Marathon is a long standing traditional running endurance race with a running distance of 42.195 kilometers. Its name is inspired by the Greek legend of Pheidippides, who ran non-stop from the town of Marathon to Athens, bearing news that the Persians had been defeated. After Pheidippides had proclaimed the news, he fainted and died from exhaustion.

The 1896 modern Olympics used the story of Pheidippides as a “symbol” for the Olympic Games, and the Marathon Run has become a staple in the Olympics since. Of course, just with almost every other sport event that had come before, a certain variation of the Marathon Run has come called Ultra Marathon Running.

As a general term, Ultra Marathon Running refers to any running event with a distance exceeding the 42.195 kilometer standard distance of a regular Marathon Run. There are two types of Ultra Marathon Running events. The first events deal with the run’s covered length. The second deals with the distance covered by a runner within a specified time frame. Ultra Marathon Running events truly live up to the name it is given.

In Ultra Marathon Running events, 50 to 100 kilometers are common distances. As mentioned, there isn’t exactly a definite distance limit, as long as they go beyond 42.195 kilometers. Certain Ultra Marathon Running events, like multi-day races, 24-marathon runs and double marathons, truly test runners’ endurance levels, putting the Ultra in Ultra Marathon Running.

The format of most Ultra Marathon Running tracks vary from venue to venue, event to event. For example, Ultra Marathon Running Trail Challenges involve course obstacles like rugged terrain, sudden track elevation level change, and non-ideal weather conditions. Inspired by cross country running races, Ultra Marathon Running Trail Challenges are often run on mountain paths and dirt roads.

Most Ultra Marathon Running timed events run from 6 to 24 hours, to 3 to 6 days. These races are often run on a short distance track circuit, which are oftentimes a mile, or less than a mile, long.

The World Championship for Ultra Marathon Running events owes its existence to the International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU). Events include 50 kilometer runs, 100 kilometer races, and 24 to 48 hour timed running events. The IAU, aside from organizing Ultra Marathon Running events, keeps track of world records for track completion times and distances.

As Marathon Runs already pose to be quite a challenge, Ultra Marathon Running Races bring the challenge a notch up, combining the elements of various popular running events into one running event, truly living up to its name: Ultra Marathon Running.

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