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Ultramarathon Walking

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Updated November 29, 2004

Is 10K just a warm-up for you and a marathon no challenge? Then you are ready for the world of ultras!

Ultramarathons are walking/running events of any distance above the marathon 42K. While these events are usually set up for "runners," walkers are welcomed if they can meet the required time cutoffs. Participants can usually take breaks at will throughout the event to eat, rest, or refresh. These events may be held on a track or on the road or trail. Ultramarathons pre-date the modern marathon. In the 1800's, "pedestrianism" was a popular sport, whereas the marathon originated in 1896. Today events are generally welcome both genders.

Fixed Distance Events:Participants cover a fixed distance, such as 50 kilometers or 100 miles. This may be on a set course from point to point in a loop, or may be on a course which loops itself and the participants stop when they complete the distance.

Time Limited Events:24 Hour or 48 Hour, etc. events where the participants attempt to cover the greatest possible distance within that period of time.

Distances and Times

Standard events are 50 KM, 50 Miles, 100 KM, 150 KM, 100 Miles, 24 Hours, 200 KM, 48 Hours, 200 Miles, Six Days, 1000 KM and 1,000 Miles. There are many non-standard events as well. The IAAF recognized the 100 kilometer distance in 1991. The annual IAU 100-Kilometre World Challenge is now held each year by the International Association of Ultrarunners under the patronage of the IAAF.

Ultra events are usually designed with runners in mind. Fast walkers can often successfully complete the event in the given cutoff time, but walkers must check carefully with the event organizers to make sure they will be welcomed. Most of the 100 Mile events in the USA are on natural trails or forest roads and many involve altitude changes equal to climbing Mt. Everest from sea level!

Just for Walkers

Some events are designed especially for walkers, such as the Great Walk in British Columbia, Canada, or the Nijmegen Four Days Walk. While I don't belong to the ultra gang, I am planning to host an 18-hour walk next year for those who feel the need for distance. The articles below on how to plan and organize such an event will be very handy. And for my walking guests, I've found plenty of links to articles on training for the long distance events.

May you always go the distance!

Training for and Walking an Ultramarathon

Ultramarathons in the Americas

Ultramarathons in Europe, Asia, and Africa

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