The main section of the book gives fun runners and ambitious runners alike a knowledgeable introduction, enabling them to draw up a structured training plan for the ultra distances. Runners are provided with plans for 50km 100km, 24hr and multi-day races and shown how to achieve these performances. They are shown that the training required is also possible for interested Marathon runners, and is not so very different from good Marathon training. They are given information on correct nutrition, orthopedic problems, typical injuries and even mental training, thus providing an optimal preparation for successful ultra running. The book ends with tips on equipment, a bibliography and useful internet links. As well as these training aspects, the book also gives an understanding of the fascination of this sport, bringing the scene to life with brief biographies of 10 top runners as well as selected running anecdotes.
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Wolfgang Olbrich, born 1968, is a passionate ultra distance runner and has completed more than 70 ultra distance races since the Biel 100k in 2001, as well as successfully finishing over 50 marathons. These races have ranged from 50k races, various multi-day races, to the Spartathlon (raced over 153 miles with a maximal time limit of 36 hours).
The author is a high-performance running coach, and looks after diverse ultramarathon running groups ranging from beginners to junior international level. He plans and leads the German Ultramarathon Foundation (DUV) Performance Development training camps, to which up to 30 elite ultramarathon specialists are invited. He is also responsible for all sports and high performance-related issues concerning the German Ultramarathon Foundation Championships in a voluntary capacity.
This book has been very carefully prepared, but no responsibility is taken for the correctness of the information it contains. Neither the author nor the publisher can assume liability for any damages or injuries resulting from information contained in this book.
Meyer & Meyer Sport
Aachen: Meyer & Meyer 2011Translated by: Heather Ross
British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Maidenhead: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd., 2012ISBN 9781841263625
All rights reserved, especially the right to copy and distribute, including the translation rights. No part of this work may be reproduced – including by photocopy, microfilm or any other means – processed, stored electronically, copied or distributed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher.
© 2012 by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.
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1 What is an ultramarathon?
2 The History of the Ultramarathon
2.1 Six-day Race
2.2 24-hour Race
2.3 100 km
2.4 (Ultra) Trail Running
2.5 Miscellaneous and Outlook
3.1 North America
3.1.1 American Ultrarunning Association (AUA)
3.1.2 Association of Canadian Ultramarathoners (ACU)
3.2.1 International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU)
4 Ultramarathon stars (past and present)
4.1 Ann Trason, USA
4.2 Dean Karnazes, The North Face Team
4.3 Ryoichi Sekiya, Japan
4.4 Scott Jurek, USA
4.5 Robert Wimmer, LAC Quelle Fürth
4.6 Yiannis Kouros, Greece
4.7 Rainer Koch, LG Würzburg
4.8 Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hawker, The North Face Team
5 Selected Races
5.1 Comrades (56 miles) – South Africa
5.2 Biel/Bienne 100 km - Switzerland
5.3 Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles) – USA
5.4 Spartathlon (153 miles) – Greece
5.5 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run – USA
5.6 West Highland Way Race (95 miles) – Scotland, UK
5.7 Gutsmuths Rennsteiglauf – Germany
6 Basic Elements of Training Theory
6.1 What is training for?
6.2 Running training sessions
6.2.1 Long Recovery jogs
6.2.2 Extensive endurance runs
6.2.3 Intensive endurance runs
6.2.5 Interval training
6.2.6 Hill running
6.2.7 Pyramid running
6.2.8 Crescendo runs
6.3 Periodization (training cycles)
6.4 Supercompensation / Training stimuli
6.5 Training session structure
7 Training Management Methods
7.1 Performance diagnostics and out of competition tests
7.1.1 Lactic acid test / field test
7.1.2 Spiro ergometric test
7.1.3 Conconi test
7.2 Heart rate monitor training
7.2.1 Establishing training zones with performance diagnostics or measuring Heart rate variability (HRV)
7.2.2 Establishing maximal heart rate (HRmax)
7.3 Tempo-oriented training
8 How does training change with the length of the race distance
9 Maintaining flexibility / stretching
10 Complementary training for muscles not used by running (strengthening / stability)
10.1 Strength circuit
11 Running drills for ultradistance runners
12 Ultramarathon nutrition (Dr. Olaf Hülsmann)
12.1 Basic nutrition
12.2 Basic nutrition snacks
12.3 Water balance
12.5 Carbohydrate loading
12.6 Race nutrition
13 Gastro-intestinal disorders during long endurance exercise (Dr. Stefan Hinze)
13.3 Heartburn (gastric reflux)
13.4 Stomach function and emptying (gastric motility)
13.5 Exercise-related diarrhea
13.6 Gastro-intestinal bleeding
13.7 Side stitch
13.8 Intestinal blood disturbances (intestinal ischemia)
13.9 Exercising with gastrointestinal disorders
13.10 Summary and recommendations
14 Orthopedic strain in ultrarunners (Dr. Dietmar Göbel)
14.1 Shoulder injuries
14.2 Lower back and hip injuries
14.3 Knee injuries due to ligament overloading
14.3.1 Knee injuries due to overloading
14.3.2 Meniscus overloading and tears
14.4 Fatigue fractures
14.5 Achilles tendon injuries
14.6 Different types of shin splints (periostitis)
14.7 Heel spur, dorsal
14.8 Heel spur, plantar / plantar fasciitis / overloading of the foot muscles
14.9 Final remarks
15 Mental aspects of ultradistance running
16 Basic training
17 Training plans for distances from 50 km to multi-day races
17.2 Training Zones
17.4 Your feedback please!
17.5 Training plan for 50 km – entry level
17.6 Training plan for 50 km in/under 5 hours (6:00 min/km)
17.7 Training plan for 50 km in/under 4.3 hours (5:24 min/km)
17.8 Training plan for 50 km in/under 4 hours (4:48 min/km)
17.9 Training plan for 100 km in/under 11 h (6:36 min/km)
17.10 Training plan for 100 km in/under10h (6:00 min/km)
17.11 6 and 12-hour races
17.11.1 Training plan for the 6-hour race
17.11.2 Training plan 12 Hour Run
17.12 Training for the 24-hour run and beyond
17.13 Example training plan for a multi-day race
18 (Ultra) trail running
Training plan K 78 Swiss Alpine Marathon
Training plan Western States 100 miles
20 Race anecdotes
20.1 Spartathlon 2009
20.2 Ultra trail Mont Blanc 2004
20.3 1st International Isarlauf 2004, from May 17th – 21th 2004
20.4 West Highland Way Race 2008
20.5 60 km Monks’ Trail (Monnikentocht, Netherlands) on September 1st 2007
20.6 Guesting at the Deutschlandlauf (Run Across Germany)
20.7 Hanau-Rodenbach 100 km, April 29th 2006
20.8 Seven day race in Athens from March 24th to 31st
Equal thanks to several people for helping me to write this book:
Firstly, of course, my equally running-mad partner, Dagmar Liszewitz, and my children Fabienne, Alina, Leon and Daniel, for giving me the time to concentrate on this book.
And special thanks go to those whose technical contributions have enhanced and completed this book. I deliberately chose specialists who are active ultrarunners themselves, and I was lucky enough to gain the services of Dr. Hinze, one of Germany’s top ultrarunners (3rd ranked German over 100 km in 2009) and President of the German Ultramarathon Foundation.
Dr. Stefan Hinze, born 1963, is President of the German Ultramarathon Foundation, a medical specialist in internal medicine and gastroenterology, and principal consultant at the Medical Clinic V of the Westpfalz Klinikum GmbH. Dr. Hinze has been an active, elite level runner since 1990. In 2009, he was ranked third in the German 100 km ranking list and, in the same year, he finished in 10th place overall in the Spartathlon nonstop 152-mile race. His “weak point” is also his area of medical specialization, thus giving validity to his writings on the subject of “Disorders of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Endurance Running.”
Holder of a PhD Natural Sciences, Olaf Hülsmann is a member of team of experts of the German Ultramarathon Foundation and German Athletics Association and visiting lecturer at the University of Munich on the subject of Sports Nutrition. While he was studying Nutritional Science and Sport, he participated in climbing and kayaking as well as the odd marathon, but he only took up ultrarunning, especially off-road, three years ago. Even before earning his degree in 2001, he was advising athletes. Since then he has dabbled in different sports such as marathon running, triathlon, weight training and ice hockey, and later also advanced training for coaches, physicians and pharmacists. After successfully finishing a 100-mile race in 2011, his next running goal is a 24-hour-race.
Dr. Dietmar Göbel, medical specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery, was an elite youth gymnast and has been running regularly for over 7 years, averaging around 2,500 miles per year. He favors natural trail running and has a marathon best time of 2:55:52 and a 100 km best time of 8:40:28. In 2010 and 2011, he successfully completed the Spartathlon Athens to Sparta nonstop race over 153 miles. He has been a sports physician since 1993 and has also studied neural therapy, chirotherapy, acupuncture and physiotherapy (www.drgoebel-germany.de).
Dr. Dietmar Göbel
Wolfgang Olbrich was born in 1968 and is himself a passionate ultra distance runner. As of December 2011, he has completed more than 75 ultra distance races since running the Biel 100 km in 2001, as well as successfully finishing more than 50 marathons. These races have ranged from 50 km races, various multi-day races, to the Spartathlon (153 miles with a maximal time limit of 36 hours).
The author is a German Athletics Federation licensed high-performance running coach and looks after diverse ultramarathon running groups ranging from beginners to junior international level. He plans and leads German Ultramarathon Foundation (DUV) Performance Development training camps, to which up to 30 elite ultramarathon specialists are invited. He is also responsible for all sports and highperformance-related issues concerning the German Ultramarathon Foundation Championships in a voluntary capacity. In 2011, he was twice appointed team manager of the German Ultramarathon team at World Championships (World Ultratrail Championships in Ireland and World 100 km Championships in the Netherlands). One of his protégés, Peter Seifert, set a new German record over 50 km in March 2011 (2h52:26) and also won the German Championships over the same distance.
Furthermore, the author is also team manager of the German Ultramarathon Foundation Running team and is responsible for all training issues and organizing the various ultrarunning events (including a five-day multi-stage race, 300 km and 6.500 HM+, a 48-hour track race and the 73-mile nonstop Kölnpfad trail race around the city of Cologne, Germany). He is also Sports and Race Team Manager of the Nordrhein Athletics Association, Kreis Köln (LVN-Kreis Köln) and administrator of running groups and walking at the Nordrhein Athletics Association.
This book is intended to smooth the way for interested long distance runners to ultramarathon training. After the success of the first edition, published in Germany in April 2011, the third edition is already due for publication later this year, and I am proud and happy that the English version of this book is now available worldwide.
My intention is to provide information about the sport of ultramarathon running and make it accessible to all. This book has deliberately been written in colloquial language, avoiding the unnecessary use of technical terms and jargon. I hope that this book may inspire readers who have never run an ultramarathon to give one a try. Entry-level races of 50 km and 6 hours are perfectly suited for this, as they give an idea of the atmosphere of an ultramarathon, which is also very strongly influenced by the participating runners, who are quite different from the “typical” marathon runner and are often very friendly.
The book contains a number of training plans and tips for beginners to more ambitious runners. I have deliberately restricted the performance level and not included training advice for elite level runners, as in my opinion it is meaningless to give universal training advice at this level. Instead, a serious discussion between coach and athlete is essential to arrive at an effective training plan. Direct collaboration with an experienced coach is definitely recommended. Unfortunately, ultramarathon coaches are few and far between. You can find the contact details of qualified ultramarathon coaches on the websites of your country’s ultramarathon or track and field athletics association. Neither will you find very detailed explanations about the training advice and training forms, as I have assumed that athletes who are interested in ultrarunning already have a few years’ experience of running training and have some knowledge of basic training theory. However, some ideas and explanations were necessary for the sake of coherence.
I hope you enjoy the book!
There are many interpretations, but there is no fixed distance. The most commonly used definition is:
“An ultramarathon is any race that exceeds the length of a marathon (26.2 miles)”
This statement is not universally accepted though, as the marathon distance itself has only been officially ratified since 1921 by the IAAF at 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards). Prior to this, differing distances were run, e.g., 40 km (24.85 miles) at the 1896 Olympic Games and 42.75 km (26.56 miles) at the 1920 Olympics.
It is often said that only races longer than 50 km can be considered true ultramarathons. Others say, for example, that a challenging mountain marathon, such as the Jungfrau or Zermatt Marathon, should also be classified as an ultramarathon due to its difficulty.
Others still say that only a race without rest breaks can be called an ultramarathon.
I personally judge my own races by the course length. So, if, for example, during a 6-hour race I cover more than the famous 26 miles 385 yards, I consider this to be an ultramarathon, irrespective of how many rest breaks I have had, as these breaks were in accordance with the race rules. It is like everything, there must be a constant value and the only constant and realistically measurable value is the course length.
I therefore agree with the above definition.
The history of ultramarathon running is not so easy to pin down either.
The first “Marathon” was run by Pheidippides in the year 490 BC, who, according to the writings of the historian Herodotus, had to run from Athens to Sparta in two days to seek help in the war against the Persians. Five hundred years later, Plutarch and Lucian of Samosata, with reference to this and to Heraclides Ponticus, formed the legend, according to which after the victory of the Athenians over the Persians on the Plain of Marathon, this same Pheidippides had run from there into the city, where he reportedly said: “We have won!” upon which he then collapsed to the ground and died.
So if we accept the description of Herodotus, the birth of the ultramarathon predates that of the marathon itself. In this case, if we accept the definition of the ultramarathon from the previous chapter, the definition of the marathon should be derived from that of the ultramarathon! But we don’t want to be that petty.
So, legend has it that Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta in less than two days, then back to the Plain of Marathon and from there to announce the victory of the Athenians over the numerically much stronger Persians then again back to Athens. All things considered, we are therefore talking about a running performance of about 311 miles, assuming that the distance from Athens to Sparta is 153 miles and that from Marathon to Athens, 25 miles.
For more than 25 years (and officially since 1983), an ultramarathon race has been held on the route from Athens to Sparta, which follows the historic route pretty closely. The race is the Spartathlon, of which more details are given later in this book, in the chapter “Selected Races.”
There are many reasons for running long distances. In the past, in hunter gatherer times, it was necessary for survival. Long distances had to be covered daily in the search for food or to escape from being eaten by animals.
In armies all over the world, it used to be common practice to use messengers or couriers, who had to run long distances in order to pass on important news or to ask other states for help.
At this point, I would like to try to give a little more historical background of the ultramarathon than can be found in such sources as Wikipedia.
Ultramarathon running can definitely be traced back to the historical military messengers. As well as the “errand” of Pheidippides, several similar messengers can be found in history, especially Greek history, of course, where we read about a certain Euchidas, who in the year 479 BC wanted to run from his home village to Delphi, covering a distance of about 113 miles in the process.
Philonides, a messenger of Alexander the Great, is said to have run from Sicyon to Elis in under a day in the year 325 BC.
Something resembling the first 24-hour races did not appear until the 16th or 17th centuries, although they were not in a competitive form as we know them today. Instead, they were exhibition runners, or professional runners, who wanted to use their running talents to gain fame and fortune. In June 1754, for example, John Cook from England was between £50 that he could run 100 miles in 24-hours. However, after 12 hours and 60 miles, he was forced to give up.
A real race between two people in the context of a 24-hour race took place in October 1806 in London, when Abraham Wood and Robert Barclay raced against each other. Wood had to run 20 miles more in order to win the race and a prize money of 600 guineas. During the event, Barclay had been supplied by another person with an opiumcontaining drink, after which he fell hopelessly behind. Wood went on to win and to complete a distance of about 154 miles in 24-hours.
Subsequently, more and more running events, or rather exhibition running events, were organized, all of which were money-making ventures and usually with only one participant. The term “gentlemen walkers and runners” was coined at the time to describe these athletes.
The first woman to feature in reports was Mary McMullen in July 1765, who is said to have run from Blencogo to Newcastle (about 72 miles) in a day.
Following the era of the exhibition runner and pedestrianism, there was a renaissance of the 6-day race from September 4th – 9th 1980 in Woodside, CA. The winner, incidentally, was Don Choi, with a distance of 400 miles.
One month later, another 6-day race was held in Pennsauken, NJ, which featured the first-ever official performance by a female runner. Sabins Snow took second place overall with 345 miles, behind the above-mentioned Don Choi (397 miles).
In 1982, four 6-day races were held around the world, including two in Europe, in La Rochelle (France) and Nottingham (England). The best results were achieved in Nottingham, where Tom O’Reilly completed an outstanding 576.45 miles, in front of the second overall finisher and best woman, Margaret Goodwin, with an equally world class 514 miles.
In 1984, the Greek Yiannis Kouros was first to break the 1,000 km (621.37 miles) barrier in New York, with 1,023.54 km (636 miles). He is still holder of the world’s best 6-day race performance with a distance of 1,038.83 km (645 miles) set in Colac, Australia on November 22, 2005.
The women’s best 6-day race performance is 550 miles, set by New Zealander Sandra Barwick in Campbelltown, New Zealand in 1990.
In 2010, there were a total of eight 6-day races held worldwide, which were often combined with other races in order to finance the now very expensive chip measuring technology. As well as longer races in which 6-day races can be included (e.g., 10 days, 1000 km, 1,000 miles or even 3,100 miles), the shorter distances of 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 hours are commonly included in the 6-day races. These performances are usually also recognized as split performances and included as such in the respective ranking lists of the IAU and the respective national ranking lists of the country/ies.
The first recorded performance over 24-hours was attributed to Edward Weston who covered 112 miles in a time of 23h 44 mins. Billy Howens covered more than 200 km in 24-hours between February 22, and 23, 1878 in London, England.
In 1958, Wally Hayward broke the 250 km barrier, achieving 256.4 km.
Since 1997, Yiannis Kouros of Greece has held the absolute world’s best 24-hour performance with 189 miles, set on May 4 – 5, 1997 in Adelaide, Australia.
The absolute world’s best women’s 24-hour race performance is credited to Mami Kudo of Japan, who ran 158.09 miles December 12 – 13 in Taipei.
In 1979 Germany, Fritz Marquardt who in was the first individual runner to complete what was intended since 1970 to be a 24-hour team relay race. He went to the start saying that he was a “one-man relay.”
From then on, individual runners were also allowed to enter relay races and in Germany also, a 24-hour race scene developed. In the neighboring Netherlands, a 24-hour race used to be held in Apeldoorn for individual runners from 1984 until 2007.
Development at the US Championships has been patchy and unfortunately the results list is not available for every single year (see Table 1). However, it is hoped that the development will be positive here. Since such famous trail runners as Jurek and Karnazes have made very successful attempts over this distance, it could definitely be of interest to other runners.
The US record over 24-hours is held by Scott Jurek with 165.7 miles, set in Brive (France) in 2010. The US women’s record holder is Connie Garder, who ran 145.26 miles in Grapevine, Texas, in 2007.
On the international scene, 24-hour race championships have been held since 1992, under the aegis of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU). It had been staged until 2010 as the World and European Challenge, but since 2011 it is officially called a World Championship. This was officially ratified by the IAAF and the WMA, which can be seen as the official recognition of the distance.
Table 3: World Champions
Men’s World Champions
Women’s World Champions
All statistics were obtained from the statistics database of the German Athletics Association at: http://statistik.d-u-v.org/overview_champions.php
Table 5: European Champions
All statistics were obtained from the statistics database of the German Athletics Association at: http://statistik.d-u-v.org/overview_champions.php. The results list from the year 1996 is incomplete.
The origins of ultrarunning in Europe can definitely be traced to the 100 km, and the Biel 100 km (Switzerland) in particular is the oldest 100 km race. It first took place on November 13, 1959. Although back in 1892 in Geneva (Switzerland), 173 participants started in a 100 km race, of whom 63 managed to finish within 24-hours), this was a one-off event.
The Biel 100 km race was initiated by officers in the Swiss army, led by Colonel Franz Reist, Urs Spörri and Hans Brönnimann. It involved running on a large circuit around the city of Biel. To start with, there was a time limit of 24-hours. Since then, the time limit has been reduced to 21 hours. As before, a military march over the same distance is incorporated into the race, in which soldiers have to march wearing their uniform and kit. Thirty-two runners took part in the inaugural race in 1959, of whom 22 reached the goal. In the heyday of the Biel 100 km, there were more than 3,000 participants. In recent years, apart from the 50th edition in 2008, where 2,348 runners participated, participation levels have tended to range between 1,000 and 1,300. This makes the event the most popular 100 km in Europe, and possibly even in the world. In the meantime, other ultrarunning events have sprung up that are more popular in terms of numbers (Comrades, Two Oceans Marathon or the Ultra Trail Tour Mont Blanc).
The first USA national championships were held in New York on February 27, 1993, with 35 athletes participating (25 men and 10 women). The 100 km road course was unremarkable both in terms of the number of runners and the level of performance.
In fact, not until the last US Championships were very good results of under 7 hours produced. This was brought home quite clearly to the US team at the World Championships in Winschoten, Netherlands, in 2011.
Table 3: World Champions since 1987
World Champion – Men
World Champion - Women
Domingo Catalan Lera/ESP
Domingo Catalan Lera/ESP
From years 1997 and 2004, only the overall lists for the open race and the European Championships are available. These figures are therefore incomplete or falsified (participant numbers). All data was obtained from the statistics database of the German Athletics Association at: http://statistik.d-u-v.org/overview_champions.php.
Table 5: European Champions
Winner – Men
Winner – Women
Jose Maria Gonzales Munoz/ESP
Table 7: Asian Champions
Winner – Men
Winner - Women
All data was obtained from the statistics database of the German Athletics Association at: http://statistik.d-u-v.org/overview_champions.php.
Trail running is as old as running itself, as in the beginning, there were no roads to run on. As trail running involves running on natural footpaths, it has no special historical background. A chapter of this book is devoted to trail running, which includes training plans.
Trail running itself has boomed in recent years like no other ultramarathon event. Running off-road is a trend. For many trailrunners, the paths can never be difficult nor steep enough, and in terms of course length also, the sky’s the limit.
The trail running countries par excellence are France, USA, Belgium and Great Britain. The sport has also undergone something of a boom in Germany in recent years, unfortunately at the expense of the 100 km distance.
On an international level, the IAU has also recognized the trend, and 2007 saw the running of the inaugural World Championships, then still a World Challenge, which is now held biennially.
Table 3: Ultratrail World Champions
Champion – Men
Champion - Women
All data was obtained from the statistics database of the German Athletics Association at: http://statistik.d-u-v.org/overview_champions.php.
Trail running is currently very popular, and races attract thousands of participants. Also growing in popularity are the so-called time runs, which are growing both in terms of the number of races organized and the number of participants. The classic 100 km road races are now struggling, with participant numbers dwindling.
The table below clearly reflects the growth in popularity of ultrarunning worldwide. Since 2005, statistics are complete from almost all of Europe and also the USA in the statistics database of the German Athletics Association, and the trend is obvious. The growth in the number of participants is particularly striking in the case of trailrunning, as is the number of races organized. Unfortunately, this has been at the expense of the classic ultradistances 100 km road race and 24-hour race. It is up to the national governing bodies to address this decline.
There are therefore currently 14,762 active ultrarunners in the USA (2012), and here too a clear trend is visible. The figures in the German Athletics Association’s database can also be seen as representative, as since 2009 (nearly) all ultra performances have been recorded. The figures should actually be considered to be on the high rather than the low side.
According to the DUV database, as of Jan. 26, 2012, there had been a total of 833,866 races worldwide run by 256,635 people, of which 215,911 were men and 43,111 women, which corresponds to a ratio of about 83:17. According to this analysis, France is the world’s top ultrarunning nation, followed by the USA and Germany.
However, the analysis is incomplete when it comes to Asian statistics. For Europe and North America, however, it is almost completely representative as all major races have been included. So at the present time, there are more than 76,966 ultrarunners throughout the world!
The sport of ultrarunning is a rather unusual one. Although it is certainly considered a track and field athletics discipline, in many countries, it is not integrated into the national track and field athletics associations. And if it is, usually only one, or at the most two, distances are ratified as race distances by the national association. These are usually the 100 km road race and the 24-hour race. Compared with the myriad Olympic sprints, middle and long distance events, this is definitely unfair.
The AUA is a non-profit organization under US law. It is accepted as a member of the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) and is therefore a point of contact for the IAU for the nomination of national teams and authorized representative at the general assemblies of the IAU, held every 4 years.
On a national level, the AUA is a member of the national body USA Track and Field (USATF), which is responsible for all national running-related issues. The AUA has an official seat and voice there and is the only organization there that has responsibility for all ultramarathon issues, i.e., all distances longer than the famous 26.2 miles. It is also responsible for the national US team that contests the following disciplines:
• 24-hour race
• 50-mile ultratrail
• 100-km road race
• 100-mile road race
The executive leadership of the AUA consists of president, vice president and treasurer. The current president is Roy Pirrung from Kohler, Wisconsin, who can boast a best performance of more than 248 km over 24-hours (set in 1990) and who is still an active ultra distance runner.
All of the AUA’s work is voluntary, and it sees its focus as being the promotion of ultra distance running. It is financially dependent upon sponsors and donations.
The AUA website, www.americanultra.org, contains a great variety of information about the US ultrarunning scene. Unfortunately, it is not regularly updated and links on the website are not always valid.
The ACU was founded on March 14, 1992, in Burlington, Ontario. The founding members were Jo Wells, Michael Careau, Laurie Dexter, Ed Alexander, Cor Potma and David Blaikie from Maotick, Ontario, who was also the first ACU President.
Two years later, the ACU started its work as a structured organization with a plenary meeting, selected representatives of the individual provinces and territories, and a constitution determined according to democratic principles.
The ACU holds national championships in these events:
• 50 km ultratrail
• 50-mile ultratrail
• 100-mile ultratrail
• 24-hour race and
• 100 km road race
Occasionally, championships are also held for the 48-hour race, 6-hour trail runs and 12-hour trail runs.
The current president is Armand Leblanc, from Angus, Ontario. In his day job, after 24 years as a member of the Canadian Air Force, he is now regional coordinator for youth recruitment for the Canadian Army, and he is also an entrepreneur in the furniture industry.
As an ultrarunner, he can still be found racing all recognized distances on or off-road. The vice president is radiologist Nadeem Khan, who is also Director of Communications for the IAU.
The IAU website, www.acu100k.com, contains a great deal of information about the ACU and its goals.
The IAU oversees the interests of ultrarunners throughout the world. It also holds international championships, including World and European Championships over 100 km and 24-hour races, as well as World Trailrunning Championships (ultradistance).
The IAU was founded in 1984. Since 1988, the IAU has had quasi-legal status since being ratified by and becoming a member of the IAAF, and since then has been the contact for the national track and field athletics association and the national ultramarathon associations, if the national body has no ultramarathon provision. The IAU is responsible for maintaining international ranking lists and the ratification of best performances and records in all ultramarathon events. The executive council of the IAU is composed of 11 members from nine different countries, chaired by Belgian Dirk Strumane.
In order to deal with the tasks of an international association, the IAU has formed three committees, membership of which is constitutionally limited to 12 members.
The IAU Technical Committee mainly deals with the interpretation of the rules and the quality of equipment used in races. It is currently composed of three people and is chaired by Lisbeth Jansen of the Netherlands.
The IAU Records Committee deals with the ratification of international records and best performances, as well as the definition of the corresponding rules. It currently consists of nine people and is chaired by Norman Wilson of Great Britain.
Last but not least is the IAU Medical Committee, which deals with all medical issues, particularly concerning sports medicine and doping. This committee is currently composed of five members and is chaired by Canadian Nadeem Khan.
The term of office of the governing body is four years, and elections are held in an assembly of the members. The last elections were held in Soregno, Italy, in April 2012.
In this chapter, I’d like to introduce you to some of the best-known and most successful ultramarathon runners, based on their responses to a questionnaire I sent them.
I have reproduced the answers of those athletes who responded “un cut,” and would like to thank these athletes again for their kind collaboration, as this kind of personal note is much more meaningful than a third person’s interpretation.
Please note that the space available in this book is limited and the nature of my selection is inevitably subjective. I do not claim to have compiled an exhaustive nor objective list.
Ann Trason lives in Kensington, California, and can definitely be considered an American ultrarunning legend.
When in college, she was already a very talented runner but was unfortunately unable to fulfil her potential due to knee injuries.
Although her achievements include being two-time World Champion over 100 km (1988 and 1995) with 7:00:47 (1995 in Winschoten/Netherlands), the second-best time ever run by a woman over this distance, her first love is long distance trail running. She has won the Western States 100 miles 14 times and holds the course record at 17:37:51. She is also a two-time winner of the biggest ultramarathon in the world in terms of number of participants, the Comrades Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1996 and 1997, after winning the Western States 12 days previously.
Below is a brief list of her still valid US records (as of 02.07.2012)
After a serious injury to and operation on a leg, Ann never returned to competitive running.
I first met Dean Karnazes briefly at the Ultratrail Mont Blanc (UTMB) when I catered for him as a substitute in La Fouly. It was at about km 100 of the race and things were not going quite as Dean would have liked. Unfortunately, he had to drop out completely at Champex Lac (km 117).
Dean was a latecomer to running. A former marketing director, he at some point turned his passion for ultrarunning into his profession and marketed himself brilliantly via books and lectures. On his website, www.ultramarathonman.com, you can find out everything you need to know about Dean.
1. How do you practice?
125km to 300+km/week base running, mountain-biking, surfing, climbing, windsurfing, gym cross-training 4-5 days/week.
2. How did you get into ultramarathon?
Ran 50km on 30th birthday without training. Started training and racing afterward.
3. What is your greatest sporting success?
Winning the 4 Deserts Championship. Why? Running multiday endurance events in such extreme conditions (Atacama desert in South America, Gobi desert in Central Asia, Sahara desert in Africa and Antarctica) was incredibly challenging, and I had to prepare and condition for each unique event differently. Not only was I able to win the overall championship, I was the first person ever to run all four of the competitions in a single calendar year.
4. What are your next running goals?
My dream is to run a marathon in every country of the world (all 204) in a single year. This will happen next year.
5. What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy writing and have written several books, two of which have become NY Times bestsellers.
Year of birth:……………………………1969
Discipline (Ultramarathon route):………………………Ultramarathon & Extreme Endurance
162 km mountain trail run:…………16:21:35h
Other noteable achievements:……………………………Badwater Ultramarathon Champion
……50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days 5.600km
………………………Run Across America
Training sessions/week:……4-5 Cross-training………………………sessions per week
Ryoichi Sekiya is the Japanese 24-hour record holder and four-time 24-hour race World Champion! Here in Europe we know him very well as he is a frequent competitor over 24-hours and 48 hours. In an invitation race over 48 hours in Surgères, France, he won in a personal record time and also in 2009, Ryoichi was first to reach the statue of King Leonidas in the Spartathlon.
1. How do you train? (Emphasis and weekly mileage in basic and competition-specific training)
I usually run about 100 km per week. About 2 months before a race, I increase the weekly mileage to about 200-250 km per week, with a tempo of between 5-6 min/km.
2. How did you get into ultramarathon running? (previous sporting background)
At some point, I found I was just more interested in running long distances than working on my speed.
3. What is your greatest sporting success and why?
Being four-time World 24-hour Champion. I was especially proud of this because it also made me world number 1.
4. What are you doing now?
Right now I am training for the 24-hour race in Soochow (Taiwan) in December 2010.
5. What are your next running goals?
I would really like to improve my 24-hour and 48-hour best times.
6. What do you do in your “free time”? (hobbies outside of running)
I like reading, listening to music and going shopping with my family.
7. Can you tell us something about the ultramarathon scene in Japan?
Japan is currently undergoing an ultramarathon boom and many people are interested in running long distances, such as ultramarathons. That’s why I’m sure that the Japanese National Ultramarathon Team will be able to maintain its current high level in the future.
Event (Ultramarathon):……….24-Hour race
10 km:……………………………..36:05 min
50 km:……………………………..3:40:00 h
100 km:……………………………..7:25:07 h
Six Hours:……………………………75.4 km
12 Hours:…………………………..146.29 km
24 Hours:…………………………274.884 km
…any other distances:………48 hours: 407.966 km
National Records:………………Japanese Record,………………………24-Hour race
Club:……………………624-Hour Team Japan
Race weight:…………………………………67 kg
Training sessions/Week:…………About 15 hours
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