The Ultra - Going Long

20 Aug 2016



For those who have yet to complete a marathon this may sound odd, but a whole new world beckons beyond the revered 26.2 miles (or 42.2km if you’re fully metric like myself). The lure of “going long” frequently arises after successfully crossing the marathon finish line and the mind automatically questions “what next?” Sometimes that might be chasing your marathon PB or completing a marathon on every Continent or in every European country or in cities beginning with every letter of the alphabet or setting a multi day target (30 marathons in 30 days anyone?)* All these fit the bill. However for a growing proportion of runners, the allure of an ultra is simply impossible to ignore. A mental itch that demands attention as the brain cells connect and ruminate on endless questions…


What would happen to my body after 42.2km?


What would I think about for all that time?


How would I fit the training volume alongside work and life?


The list continues…though, I promise if you have the mental drive, determination and discipline anything is possible.


My relationship with ultra running started nearly nine years ago in the classic manner with a reoccurring niggle for something more after finishing a number of marathons. On reflection the CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) part of the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc race series at 98km and 6,000m ascent might not have been the most sensible introduction though my interested was captured. Since then, I’ve pushed the distance ever higher culminating in 100 miles and several multi day events with even more in the pipeline.



The whole process of signing up for your first ultra online through to standing on the start line might seem slightly (completely?!) daunting, though once committed the camaraderie and support from the ultra running community will sweep you along. If you’re on the hunt for your first ultra, XNRG ( organise the perfect introductory races, all accompanied by endless cake en route. One Friday evening at the beginning of July I headed over to the Isle of Wight where Cowes was buzzing with the prospect of the annual Round the Island yacht race. Over 1,800 sailing boats of various shapes and sizes create the perfect backdrop for the two-day XNRG “Round the Island” running event that covers 70 miles with 2,035m of ascent.


The Isle of Wight coastal route firmly reminds us of the stunning scenery outside our front doors in Britain. I regularly use running as an excuse to travel and explore the world both locally and further afield. It can be easy to slip into the default tunnel vision mode and almost run blind to the surroundings so I regularly incorporate a 360-degree scenic appreciation ritual to soak up the view with the odd selfie along the way. Next time you head outdoors for a run make a concerted effort to look up and appreciate the view.


 The “Round the Island” ultra course winds down narrow lanes, through quintessential villages and along the famous Sandown promenade.  It’s not all easy going, and care must be taken to avoid any runners’ rage incidents, especially towards the latter end of the ev