Forget the 42.195 kilometer marathon, ultra is the most hellish endurance discipline there is. Except maybe for those ten aliens.
It takes a lot of work, passion and talent to carve out a place among the elite of ultra-trail runners . Officially defined as any race longer than a marathon, ultras usually takes place on trails ranging from 80 to 160 kilometers. Among the most famous: the Western States 100, the Hardrock 100 and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
But how do we get there? “After a while, the simple fact of accumulating kilometers is not enough to make real progress”, explains the Briton Damian Hall.
As in any elite sport, there is a circuit recognized in ultra. The best athletes know each other and often meet at major events. And while most of them are obviously hyper competitive, they are mainly fueled by friendly rivalry. “I don’t think I know a runner I don’t like,” adds Damian Hall. “Comradeship usually trumps competition.”
If there is no real list, here are a few of these exceptional runners.