If you’re a runner looking to take your training and distance to the next level in 2019, consider training for and running in your first ultramarathon.
Most likely, if you’ve ended up here, you’ve done the hardest part of all, which is running enough distance that you feel confident Googling “ultramarathons for beginners.” Congratulations! You’re ready for your first ultra. Now, how do you choose the right race? We’re here to help.
How Far is an ultramarathon? An ultra is anything beyond 26.2 miles (marathon) and can be run on road, trails, or a combination of both. The shortest distance for most ultras is 50K (31 miles). Other distances include 50 mile, 100 mile, and 100K (62 miles).
How do you pick your first race? Nike Trail Elite team member, Chris Vargo (an ultra veteran), suggests looking at races with a manageable course (not a crazy amount of incline), solid race organization, obvious course markings/easy navigation, and good support and aid stations.
We’ve picked 10 beginner-friendly ultras to try in 2019.
- Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Mile, Sisters, Oregon – April 14, 2019. Hit the trail (and some dirt) that takes you up and downhill, while enjoying the beautiful views of the Central Oregon Cascades peaks.
- Quad Rock 50 Mile, Fort Collins, Colorado – May 11, 2019. Come for the trails and hills west of Fort Collins in Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park and stay afterwards for live music, great food, and camaraderie.
- Ice Age 50K, La Grange, Wisconsin – May 11th, 2019 (sold out). This course is made up of two sections: an out-and-back from start to Horserider’s Camp, followed by two counterclockwise 9-mile loops on the scenic Nordic Blue Trail.
Image courtesy of Ice Age 50K Facebook page
- Sulphur Springs Trail Races, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada – May 25 – 26, 2019. Choose from a 50K, a 50-mile and a 100-mile race that weaves through the trails of the Dundas Valley.
- Cayuga Trails 50, Ithaca, New York – June 1, 2019. This race attracts elites and beginners, offers excellent organization, and just the right amount of challenge amidst a striking natural setting. Ithaca is gorges (get it?).
- Wild Woman 50K, Mt. Adams, Trout Lake, Washington – June 22nd, 2019. This trail race is created by and for women and takes participants up, down, and around the base of Mt. Adams (a 12,276-foot volcano). There’s also post-run yoga and a water trough plunge.
- Afton 50K Trail Race, Afton State Park, Minnesota – July 6th, 2019. Celebrating its 26th annual race, this two-loop 50K is one of the oldest and largest trail races in the country. It offers a well-marked course with ample aid and friendly, experienced volunteers.
- Mt. Hood 50 Mile, Clackamas Historic Compound, Oregon – July 13-14, 2019. Ultra-runner Yassine Diboun says this race is ideal for a first 50-miler because it features two separate out-and-back sections from the start/finish area.
Image courtesy of Mt. Hood 50K Facebook page
- JFK 50 Mile, Boonsboro, Maryland – November 23, 2019. As far as 50-milers go, this might be one of the—dare we say—easier ultramarathons. And it’s the oldest too. You’ll cover ground on asphalt, the Appalachian Trail, and the C&O Canal towpath.
- Your Local Ultramarathon. For beginners, the best race is the one closest to home. For one, you’ll get to train on the actual course—no surprises on race day. Running an ultra in your backyard means you get to eat your own food and sleep in your own bed.
Interested in planning an ultra marathon or any running event? Start planning your next running event on Events.com.