What Is Ultra Distance Running?

What is Ultra Distance Running?

Dig deep, keep going.  Come on you can do it.  Wow this hurts.  Where is that pain coming from?  Come on; think of your family and what they’ll think when you succeed.  Should I give up?  Is this pain normal?  Does everyone else feel this bad?  Come on, one foot in front of the other.  I’ve done it!  This is amazing!  I want to do this again.  These are just some of my thoughts and feelings whilst running through the Amazon Rainforest during a 230km multi-stage event.

Ultra Distance Running is arguably one of the most extreme versions of the increasingly popular sport of running.  Where the previous generations of runners bestowed an almost mystical power on the regular marathon (26.2 miles/42km) a growing number of modern day athletes wish to push themselves even further with ultra distance running.  Ultra distance events usually range in distance and format from the 30 mile single stage race to the longer multi-day events in far flung countries often covering 150 miles and more.  These events are often a lower key, more personal experience than that of the modern day marathon event, which can now attract athletes in their tens of thousands.  So that’s the definition of an ultra-marathon, but what is it that drives us to step outside of our wonderful modern day lives to pit ourselves against these extreme distances and conditions?  There are several schools of thought here, but I truly feel the answer lies within in our own ancestry and our genetic make-up.  Long before you could deliver food, water or clothing at the click of a button, we as human beings had to hunt and gather to support ourselves and our families, and we or rather our ancestors were evidently very successful at doing this; otherwise we wouldn’t be here today, so no excuses we all have the ability!  These hard won skills honed over thousands of years of moving around the world, hunting and gathering do not simply disappear overnight.  I believe that the love of running these long distances pulls on these inherited abilities, rewarding us with a pure, primitive, and complete satisfaction that would have previously meant our families survival and the continuation of our genes down through the generations.  This level of satisfaction is not usually achieved within our more sedentary 21st century lifestyle, you need to push and exert yourself further than you think and feel possible, that’s how your ancestors survived, and this is how they felt when they did it!

Who would have thought that running could be so spiritual, so integral to our being.  Can there be a better way to explore who you are, and what you are capable of?  Or what you can achieve when you really put your mind and body to it?  I think not, and with running being so accessible these days, there is nothing stopping you going out and looking back in to your own ancestry, using your own set of skills and pitting them against the best and worst the world has to throw at you.  Happy hunting!

Wes Crutcher

Race Director

Beyond The Ultimate Llc


Jungle Ultra


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