By nature most ultra marathon runners can be classified as adventure seekers. So when it comes to choosing a race, for many it’s the tougher the better. Races like Leadville, Western States, Hard Rock, the UTMB and many more have become running royalty with system that take years to get into. And with the popularity if ultra running growing we are seeing even popular regional races seeing large lottery draws . With that in mind we decided to put together a list of incredibly tough races that you actually have a chance to get into . Just don’t wait too long. Like all good things, these races will soon too be popular and possibly feature a lottery so make sure to advantage now. Here we go!
The 6 Toughest Ultra Marathons You’ve Never Heard Of
6. Quest for the Crest 50k
Date: Late May
Location: Ashville, NC
You may be asking how a 50k made the list of the toughest ultra marathons. But with 10,000+ feet of gain and peaking the highest point of on the east coast, the Quest for the Crest 50k goes toe-to-toe with any race mile for mile. Taking place just outside of Asheville North Carolina in the Blue Mountains, summiting of Mt. Michell at 6,683ft. What makes it so impressive is that all of the elevation gain is made in three, 3,000+ foot climbs and descents.
5. Manitous Revenge 54 Miler
Date: Late June
Location: Catskills, NY
Now we’re cranking up the distance and the vert! Taking place in New York’s Catskills, Manitous Revenge features 54 miles and 15,000ft of gain. For perspective a races like Leadville feature 15,000ft of gain over 100 miles. With a course that is described more as hiking than running this is know to be a great test and 50 miler to use as a qualifier for longer races.
4. Grindstone 100 Miler
Date: Early October
Location: Swoope, VA
Our first 100 miler on the list is known by very few outside of the eastern states. But the Grindstone 100 is considered to be one of the toughest races the east coast has to offer. Ranking up there with Easter States and the Vermont 100. With 22,000+ feet of gain the Grindstone 100 is also a qualifier for both Western States and the Hard Rock 100 but sadly not the UTMB.
3. Mogollon Monster 100
Date: Early September
Location: Pine, AZ
The Mogollon Monster 100 miler is not only a Hard Rock 100 qualifier, but also a 6 point UTMB qualifier race. That should tell you a lot of this race. The course itself will offer over 22,000ft of gain, features an overall elevation of 5,000ft to 7,900ft , and is considered to be highly technical for a 100 miler. Another great benefit to this race is that it doesn’t sell out fast. So if you miss out on all of your lottery races, it’s a great big race to add to the schedule.
2. Run Rabbit Run 100
Date: Late September
Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
The Run Rabbit Run 100 mile ultra starts runners at 7,000 feet in elevation and peaks 10,000ft three times. Offering over 22,000ft of gain the course sends runner strait up a ski slope to start the race, late in the race features a 14+ mile incline, and is notorious for running 5+ miles over. With Leadville becoming harder and harder to get into the Run Rabbit Run 100 is starting to become a popular alternative that doesn’t require a lottery. Mile for mile this is a tougher race than Leadville. The Run Rabbit Run 100 will sell out though so make sure not to wait to long.
1. Whistler Alpine Meadow (WAM) – 100 Miler
Date: Late September
Location: Whistler, BC
The only reason you haven’t heard of Whistler Alpine Meadow (WAM) is because it’s so new. Holding it’s first race in 2019 this one is an absolute monster. There are several race distances but the 100 miler features 31,500ft of gain this course has what it takes to complete with the baddest on the planet in both difficulty and beauty. For reference the Fat Dog 120 is on many lists as one of the toughest races in the world… it’s has 28,000ft of gain over a longer distance. Buy in early on the WAM 100, in a few years this one will be hard to get into.