Ultra Marathons - Our Myth-Busting Guide
Updated: Jan 13
The world of ultra-marathons can seem daunting and intimidating, especially to beginners and those contemplating taking their first steps over ultra long distances. So, here we challenge the common misconceptions about ultra-marathons with our myth-busting guide.
You have to run the entire distance:
Walking is not only expected, it is encouraged. "Walk the hills and run the downs and flats" is a common mantra. Even the elites will walk, especially on steeper sections or when taking on fuel, it will also form part of their training. Many participants plan in sections of walking and in events such as ULTRA LONDON, you are asked whether you intend to walk, walk/run or run at registration.
You have to have run a marathon before attempting an ultra:
Untrue. A marathon (26.2 miles/ 42km) is not a pre-requisite for an ultra. Many ultra-marathoners will have upgraded from the marathon, however you can equally have gained endurance experience from other activities, such as walking, cycling or swimming. Road running is very different from trail running, so experience of trails is more important than marathons.
Ultra-Marathons are harder than marathons:
As many of the marathon runners amongst us will testify, running a 3 hour marathon hurts! Logic would suggest that a 6 hour challenge would be twice as hard, but it simply isn't the case. Ultra-marathoners typically move at a considered pace in order to achieve the distance, rather than chase a time. The walks, the feeds, the scenery and camaraderie of your fellow competitors along the way will make the experience much more enjoyable.
I can't do an ultra as I don't have a support team:
A support team can be a great help to you achieving your goal - whether it be providing motivation along the route, an occasional sweet treat or just looking forward to seeing your friends at a pre-arrange point. However, a support team is not essential in ULTRA LONDON. Our support teams at the Checkpoints will provide you with extra nutrition and a few treats and the whole race team will be cheering you on every step of the way. If you need assistance, simply call the telephone number on your race bid and we'll be with you as soon as we can.
You could argue that doing the same thing for hours on end can be boring. But with ever-changing scenery, discovery of hidden parts of London, as well as seeing many of the established sights of the Capital, Ultra London will keep your interest throughout.
I'm not fit enough to complete an ultra:
You will never complete an ultra-marathon if you are waiting for you to hit optimum fitness. Our advice is to enter the event early, start training and slowly build up your distance. Even if you are not fit enough now, by race day, you will be.
I would like to do an ultra but worry about finishing last:
This is a good point to finish on. Ultras are much more about completing epic challenges and achieving the distance rather than about your time or position. The last finisher is always one of our team as the tail-walker, so no-one finishes last.
Best of luck to all our first time ultra-marathoners attempting ULTRA LONDON.