This is something I get asked a lot, and whilst it may seem like I’m happy to rock up to just any race and run, I still look for the things I have mentioned below in any race I do because they simply make the whole thing a bit sweeter… and we all know how much I love cake.
Signing up to your first race can be incredibly daunting, scary and damn right nerve jiggling… let alone when that race exceeds marathon distance. Your first ultra marathon should be enjoyable, and part of an exciting journey in pushing yourself further than you may have ever gone before. These races, unlike road races, come with an opportunity to drop time expectations and just enjoy a beautiful part of the world, ideally with some good pals on side.
So, what do I look for when signing up to an ultra marathon, and in turn what do I suggest you look for?
Firstly, I would always say pick a part of the world you want to visit and go there. It doesn’t have to be farfetched, it could simply be an hour down the road, and perhaps you just haven’t had a chance to get there yet. Running a bit further allows you to see more thanks to the extra miles, so I’d always try and pair it with an opportunity for some great sightseeing. The likes of Australia, South Africa and Italy are all great options, but if you’re mostly based in the UK I’d highly recommend North Wales and Scotland for some equally mind-blowing views.
Next up for me is accessibility which I touched on a little above. Contradictory maybe, but this doesn’t mean you can’t travel hours and hours, I would just, for your first recommend avoiding external stresses. It’s also handy if you can have some friends or family there… especially if your race is point to point. Be sure to factor in a little bit of logistics when you’re going for your first ultra marathon event.
Another big one is community, this will be clear from a race organisation’s social media and if it’s not, let me share a few that do it really well. Ultra X
run races all over the world, but it’s the incredible checkpoint energy, and seriously cool team and crew that make it a winner in my books. Threshold Events
follow a similar suit, with the most supporting aid stations and an overwhelming number of first timers often found on their startline, ready to share their excited energy. Maverick
and Endurance Life
also put on some epic races in the UK, both offering beautiful trails and a really welcoming atmosphere.
And finally, yes do something that scares you, but don’t let it absolutely terrify you. I think there’s a fine line when it comes to picking an event that is going to challenge you enough to excite you, but not enough to make the whole experience unenjoyable. If I was you, I’d go for a 50km event first, just a little over a marathon and enough miles to make you fall in love with the sport and want to do it all over again.
And there it is, my top tips to help you choose your first Ultra Marathon. Got any suggestions? Head to my social and comment below on my latest post!
Join me in my training by getting involved with my Strength Conditioning and Yoga for Runners programme.