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8 reasons to give ultrarunning a try

Ultramarathons are pretty daunting, but you should run one anyway

Ruth Croft at Tarawera Photo by: Graeme Murray

This might be a tough sell, but you should run an ultramarathon. We know that the idea of running 50K, 100K or even more might not sound like something you want to do, but that could just be because you haven’t trained properly for it. After all, when you first started running, 5Ks, 10Ks and regular marathons probably sounded daunting, but you trained well and got through them. Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons to at least consider testing the waters of ultramarathons at some point in your running career. 

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc
Start line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Photo: UTMB.

Bragging rights

We don’t recommend doing anything simply for the attention it may bring you, but there’s no denying that ultrarunning will impress people. Most non-runners will be impressed if you tell them that you’ve run a marathon before, so you’ll blow their minds when you say you ran an ultra. A lot of people don’t even know what an ultramarathon is, and when you tell them how far you ran, they’ll think you’re amazing.

RELATED: 5 reasons every runner should try the marathon

Mental challenges 

Any long-distance race requires mental toughness, but the farther you go, the more you need it. Venturing past 42.2K will take you from a mostly physical endeavour to a mostly mental one, and that’s when you’ll learn more about yourself. Plus, you’ll become stronger mentally thanks to ultras, and you can apply that mental toughness to every other type of race you enter in the future, which will only help you on the course. 

You could become obsessed with it

Some people might view this as a reason not to take up ultrarunning, but we think it’s definitely a reason to do it. As unattractive as running 100 miles might seem right now, after your first 50K, you shouldn’t be surprised when you feel the need to enter another ultra-distance race. Even if you tell yourself something like “Never again” during the race, we’re willing to bet that you’ll be asking “When can I do that again?” after you reach the finish line. 

A shot from the Golden Ultra in B.C. Photo: Laura Szanto/The Golden Ultra

More racing opportunities 

If you add ultra distances to your list of options when picking your race schedule, you’ll only be increasing the number of racing opportunities in your life. Can’t find a marathon to race on a certain weekend this summer? If you’re open to running farther than 42K, you have more of a chance to fill that slot with an ultramarathon. 

RELATED: 12.5 reasons trail running is better than road running

The community

Everyone who has done an ultra mentions the community and how great it is. The running community in general is awesome, but as you get into more and more specific groups within the sport, that we’re-all-in-this-together kind of feeling only intensifies. Also, since an ultra is such a huge undertaking, bonding with your fellow athletes is even easier than usual, because you’re all in for the same long and arduous experience. 

It’s not over until it’s over 

If you’re an athlete who races to win, then an ultramarathon is a great place for you, because no gap is insurmountable. You could be an hour behind the race leader, but in a run that lasts dozens of hours or even multiple days, that’s nothing, and it’s 100 per cent possible to chase them down and take the win. In a marathon, on the other hand, even just a 10-minute gap can be impossible to overcome. 

It’s not permanent 

Just like any kind of race, if you enter an ultra and don’t like it, you can leave that part of your life behind and never try it again. 

It could be your forte 

Working off that fact, there’s also the chance that you’ll fall in love with ultrarunning and actually be quite good at it. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. If you do try and you don’t like it, you can forget about it, but if you love it, then it can become your new go-to type of racing. 

RELATED: 5 reasons it’s time to give trail running a try

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