Determined to up your running game and try an ultra marathon, but not sure where to start? As thrilling as it sounds, preparing for such a race is no small feat. This handpicked list of the best ultra marathons for beginners, combined with essential tips about training, nutrition and gear will guide you on your new endurance journey. Ready for the challenge? Let’s get running!
- Ultra marathons are long distance races that test your endurance levels.
- Many ultra marathons, like the Red River Gorge Ultra and Chuckanut 50K, offer scenic routes for beginners.
- Some races offer different distances to suit various fitness levels such as the Mount Hood 50 Mile in Oregon.
- Beginners can also try international ultra marathons like the Thames Path Challenge in London or Ultra X 50 Scotland Trail Race.
The Best Ultra Marathons for Beginners
From the captivating trails of Red River Gorge Ultra in Kentucky to the picturesque Chuckanut 50K in Washington and stretching as far as the tranquil Mount Hood 50 Mile in Oregon, these ultra marathons provide an excellent starting point for beginners.
Other beginner-friendly races include Peterson Ridge Rumble, also located in beautiful Oregon, Marin Ultra Challenge nestled in sunny California and Another Dam 50K awaiting you with open arms in Englewood, Ohio.
For those based closer to Texas there is Piney Woods Ultra 50k that is a must-run event. Black Mountain Monster held amidst green stretches of North Carolina offers great ease for first-timers while Yamacraw 50k back again at Kentucky gives runners trail running experience like second none other.
Last but not least, Fork Yargo 50k awaits runners with its varied terrain offering unique blends of challenge and fun at Georgia.
Marin Ultra Challenge, California
The Marin Ultra Challenge, a premier trail race in California, beckons beginners eager to experience long-distance running in scenic landscapes. Located in the beautiful Marin County and scheduled for June 3, 2023, this event offers an excellent introduction to ultra marathons.
Starting at Rodeo Beach and journeying through the stunning terrain of the Marin Headlands, Mt. Tamalpais, and Muir Woods, runners embark on an unforgettable adventure. With a limit of 400 participants across all distances, there’s ample space for newbies seeking their gateway into marathon training amid the picturesque trails of California’s wilderness.
Fork Yargo 50k, Georgia
The Fork Yargo 50k in Georgia serves as an excellent starting point for those venturing into ultra marathons. This race unfolds within the picturesque Fort Yargo State Park, renowned for its beautiful single track trails, which have been voted among the best in the state.
The course encompasses a 15.6-mile loop that beginners find manageable yet challenging enough to set them up for longer races.
With only 1,600 feet of elevation gain, it provides a fairly flat and runnable terrain, making it less daunting for new entrants into the world of ultra marathoning. Participants get to relish scenic trails while pushing their physical limits and gaining valuable racing experience at this beginner-friendly event.
Yamacraw 50k, Kentucky
Every year in late May, the Yamacraw 50k takes place near Stearns, a coal mining community situated in Kentucky. The race is a point-to-point trail course that starts at Lick Creek Trail within Daniel Boone National Forest and wraps up at Blue Heron Mining Community.
This ultra marathon offers not just endurance testing but also breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of creeks, waterfalls and lush greenery to enjoy along the way. Hailed as one of Kentucky’s most picturesque 50K races, it presents a challenge that isn’t too technical or mountainous.
Therefore, it certainly qualifies as an ideal choice for beginners stepping into the world of ultra marathon running.
Y’allhalla Ultra, Kentucky
The Y’allhalla Ultras is a unique Bluegrass experience. Featuring a scenic race route with waterfalls, boulder scrambles, riverbanks, bridges, and lakeside trails. With both a 50k and 5m option. The race is an out-and-back route along the Sheltowee Trace. Starting and ending at Kentucky’s Sheltowee Camp, which offers various accommodations like campsites, cabins, bunkhouses, and a bathhouse with showers.
What sets this race apart is that it changes directions every year. In odd-numbered years, it runs north-south through Laurel County, Kentucky, passing through natural arches, Sinking Creek, and sandstone trails to the 49er. In even-numbered years, the race goes south-north through Whitley County, along the Laurel Lake Spillway, Cumberland River banks, and the famous Cumberland Falls. It promises an unforgettable adventure for participants.
Black Mountain Monster, North Carolina
The Black Mountain Monster, located in picturesque North Carolina, presents a range of race options to suit every runner’s endurance level. With 6-hour, 12-hour and even grueling 24-hour races available, it caters to both novices and experienced runners ready for a tough course.
Its challenging terrain tests the mettle of all sports enthusiasts willing to take on its paths. This ultramarathon takes place over an ever-changing scenic 5K loop circuit that provides breathtaking views throughout the race.
Despite its intimidating name, rest assured this event is indeed beginner-friendly – showcasing ultra marathons as not only about physical toughness but also mental resilience and personal growth opportunities.
Mount Hood 50K, Oregon
The Mount Hood 50 Mile race, nestled in the heart of Oregon, presents a challenging yet scenic route for aspiring ultra marathoners. Be prepared to test your endurance as you journey along the Pacific Crest Trail and around Timothy Lake.
This event caters to various levels with three distance options: 50 miles, 50 kilometers, or a softer introduction into ultramarathons with their enticing 25-kilometer course. Organized by Go Beyond Racing, this race provides an incredible opportunity to experience running near majestic Mt Hood while carefully observing COVID precautions established during the ongoing pandemic.
Whether you’re an amateur racer or gearing up for more complex trials further down your marathon path – this could be your perfect leap into the vibrant world of ultra marathons!
Peterson Ridge Rumble, Oregon
The Peterson Ridge Rumble in Oregon is a popular event among ultra marathon beginners. Located near Sisters, this race takes runners through the multi-use trails of Peterson Ridge and Metolius-Windigo.
Since its inception in 2003, it has become renowned for its participant-friendly environment with a limit set to 625 racers. This cap ensures that every racer gets ample support and space on the trail, making it an ideal introduction for newcomers to the world of ultra marathons.
Besides giving participants thrilling adventure, racing at Peterson Ridge also provides an opportunity to build physical fitness, mental strength along with personal growth and accomplishment.
Another Dam 50K in Englewood, Ohio
The Another Dam 50K in Englewood, Ohio offers beginners a fantastic introduction to ultra marathon running. This race occurs on the last Saturday of July each year, this time it is scheduled for July 29, 2023.
It kicks off at a comfortable start time of 7:30 a.m and participants have up until 3:30 p.m., granting them an ample window of eight hours to cross the finish line.
Consisting of four circuits along a diverse course that extends just over seven miles, this ultra marathon poses an amazing challenge guaranteed to test your endurance. The course represents a perfect blend with about two thirds being scenic trails and one third taking you along smooth road or bike trails.
For those new to ultra marathons looking for their first experience, there’s no beating the variety and exhilaration encapsulated by the Another Dam 50K in Englewood, Ohio.
Chuckanut 50K, Washington
The Chuckanut 50K, Washington is a true test of ultra-endurance. This trail race unfolds in the beautiful town of Fairhaven and challenges runners with a daunting distance of 30 miles.
The terrain poses another layer of complexity to the competition – it includes a challenging climb along the Chuckanut Mountain Ridge, adding up to an impressive 5,000 feet elevation gain.
Known for its breathtaking views and picturesque route, this iconic Pacific Northwest trail race entices both beginners and experienced ultra-runners alike. Every March, participants flock here.
It’s seen as more than just a race; it’s also an opportunity to experience the exciting world of ultra-marathons first hand while being immersed in nature’s unspoiled beauty.
Piney Woods Ultra 50k, Texas
Runners looking to challenge themselves should consider the Piney Woods Ultra 50k in Texas, held in the scenic Tyler State Park. Offering a variety of race distances such as 5k, 10k, and the more grueling 25k, this ultra marathon caters to all levels of running.
The trails provide stunning views of towering pine forests which add an element of tranquillity amidst its challenging routes. Factors like humidity and elevation gain along with trail technicalities make it an exhilarating but demanding race for beginners.
This memorable run through the lush landscapes is sure to test physical strength and mental fortitude while providing a unique running experience amid forest views that are nothing short of enchanting!
The Best International Ultra Marathons for Beginners
Venture beyond borders with international ultra marathons perfect for beginners, such as the Ultra X 50 Scotland Trail Race or the Thames Path Challenge in London. Tap into your inner endurance athlete and discover diverse landscapes from Italy’s “50 Km di Romagna” to Australia’s Great North Walk Ultras or Japan’s Lake Saroma 50k.
Exploring new trails and cultures can amplify your running experience; so why not lace up those running shoes, pack your excitement and embark on an international ultra journey? Read on to learn more about these thrilling races around the world!
Ultra X 50 Scotland 50km Trail Race, Scotland
Running through the stunning Scottish Highlands, Ultra X 50 Scotland is a must for any adventurous beginner. This 50km trail race offers breathtaking views and challenging terrains that add an extra thrill to your run.
Participating in this event not only pushes you physically but it also takes you on a journey through one of the most scenic routes in the world. To cater to different skill levels, there’s also a two-stage option extending over 110 kilometers which happens simultaneously with stage 2 of their larger ultra-marathon event.
Marking its spot on the global map, Ultra X provides international exposure to all runners with this highly accessible and well-organized event which is renowned as one of the best ultramarathons for beginners worldwide.
Thames Path Challenge 50km, London, England
Prepare yourself for the Thames Path Challenge 50km, a renowned half marathon in London, England. The race occurs on September 14th, 2024 and kicks off at Bishops Park located in West London.
Expect to cover a respectable distance of 50km with an uphill climb of about 200 meters scattered throughout this endurance event. You won’t be just running; your eyes will feast on the breath-taking beauty of River Thames as you follow its path through cityscapes and leafy countryside.
The splendid thing is that all paces are welcome – from slow and steady walkers to ambitious runners looking for a fitness challenge!
The Great North Walk Ultras (GNW Ultras), Australia
The Great North Walk Ultras, passionately known as the GNW Ultras, constitute an iconic Australian ultramarathon event. It’s put on by the Terrigal Trotters running club and features two intense races: a 100 Mile and a 100 Kilometre distance.
These races take place along the scenic path of The Great North Walk, a trail stretching for an impressive 250 km between Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales.
Choosing to participate in this event brings with it not just the accomplishment of completing an ultra-distance race but also immersing oneself in some truly breathtaking natural scenery.
Runners journey through Patonga; its distinct landscapes offer a unique charm that leaves participants awe-struck by Australia’s untouched beauty. Whether you’re new to ultra marathons or looking for a fresh challenge outside your home country, GNW Ultras is worth considering!
Lake Saroma 50k, Japan
Across the globe, in Yubetsu, Japan, the Lake Saroma Ultramarathon is charting a new course for amateur ultrarunners. With its relatively flat terrain and 50km distance option, this race provides an ideal starting point for those venturing into their first ultramarathon.
The Lake Saroma event offers runners picturesque views of one of Japan’s largest lakes nestled in serene landscapes. Runners gear up annually to participate in this beloved event every June.
Be it the refreshing scenery or the inviting course layout, many consider it as an international pick among ultra marathons suitable for beginners.
50 Km di Romagna, Italy
Nestled in the charming town of Castel Bolognese, Italy lies one of the best international ultra marathons for beginners, the 50 Km di Romagna. This endurance race offers a unique blend of challenging and beginner-friendly elements that make it perfect for both novice ultra runners and experienced marathoners.
Runners traverse paved roads enveloped by lush greenery, making this long-distance running event as picturesque as it is exhilarating. The first part gently tests their stamina with a gradual climb whereas the second half rewards them with an enjoaybale downhill section.
Boasting natural running trails dotted with scenic views, 50 Km di Romagna stands out not only as a race but also as an unforgettable experience in the heartland of Italy.
Tips for Beginner Ultra Marathon Runners
Taking the leap into ultra marathon running? Arm yourself with vital knowledge on training regimes, hydration plans and gear selection to ensure success in your first race. Read more to explore these tips and get ready for this exciting new challenge!
Proper training and preparation
Proper training and preparation form an essential foundation for a beginner ultra marathon runner.
- Build your base mileage: Start by gradually increasing your weekly running distance. This helps to promote endurance which is key for long-distance running.
- Focus on Stamina: Prioritize stamina over speed or muscle mass. Successful ultra marathon runners are those who have developed the resilience to maintain a steady pace over increased distances.
- Long Runs: Incorporate regular long runs into your training regimen, aiming for two to three-hour runs each week. This prepares both body and mind for the rigors of an ultramarathon.
- Back-to-back Training: Consider back-to-back training routines, where you run long distances on two consecutive days. It simulates race fatigue without requiring you to cover the full race distance in one go.
- Nutrition and Hydration: Implement dietary strategies that fuel your body for extended periods of physical activity. Maintain adequate hydration throughout both training and actual races.
- Mental Toughness: Prepare yourself mentally, as ultramarathons are not just physically demanding but require strong mental fortitude as well.
- Choose Races Wisely: Start with races that suit your current fitness level rather than jumping straight into the most challenging events.
Nutrition and hydration strategies
Proper nutrition and hydration play a vital role in ultra marathon running. Without these, runners can face serious health risks and performance obstacles.
- Develop a Personalized Plan: Every runner is unique. It’s essential to tailor your nutrition strategy based on factors like trained status, basal metabolic rate, and daily activity.
- Balance Carbohydrates and Protein: Consuming 30-50 g/kg/hr of carbohydrates and 5-10 g/kg/hr of protein during a single-stage ultramarathon race is recommended.
- Design a Race Strategy Ahead of Time: Successful ultra marathon runners don’t leave their fueling to chance. Planning your nutrition and hydration specifics before the race is crucial.
- Prioritize Hydration: Staying properly hydrated helps clear waste products from the body. Maintaining optimal performance levels.
- Prevent Dehydration: Fueling adequately is not just about eating enough. Good hydration practices can prevent dehydration, a common challenge for ultra marathon competitors.
- Aid Digestion with Hydration: Keeping well-hydrated can also facilitate digestion, reducing the risk of encountering “runner’s gut.”
Choosing the right gear and apparel
Selecting appropriate gear and apparel is foundational for beginner ultra marathon runners. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
- Use expert tips. Sources like our comprehensive gear guide provide valuable advice on what to wear and pack for an ultra marathon.
- Consider your specific needs. Different races call for different equipment, so research the event before selecting your gear.
- Don’t forget about storage. A good running pack or another storage solution can be essential for storing supplies during longer races.
- Pack efficiently. Our article includes helpful packing tips to ensure you’re carrying everything you need without overpacking.
- Invest in quality clothing. Durable, comfortable materials can make a big difference in long – distance runs.
Benefits of Ultra Marathon Running for Beginners
Ultra marathon running offers beginners a path to enhanced physical fitness, showcasing the body’s incredible endurance capabilities. It acts as a mental strength builder, helping runners develop resilience to challenges beyond the trail.
Moreover, it provides an opportunity for personal growth and achievement that can bolster self-esteem and confidence.
Physical fitness and endurance
Running ultra marathons significantly ramps up physical fitness and endurance. Participating in these races involves long-distance running, which acts as a superb stimulant for cardiovascular health.
Regular training sessions for these formidable races can lead to improved stamina and enhanced aerobic conditioning.
Endurance-based workouts form the core of ultramarathon training. They not only contribute to better race performance but also boost overall physical conditioning. Recreational runners may note an improvement in their health status with increased race distances, thanks to the blend of strength and conditioning exercises involved in preparing for an ultra marathon.
Moreover, consistent endurance exercise can have lasting benefits on gastrointestinal health, adding another feather to its cap!
Mental strength and resilience
Ultra-marathon running stretches beyond physical endurance, tapping into the realms of mental toughness and cognitive resilience. This dynamic sport presents a psychological challenge that breeds robustness in every individual who dares to partake.
The rigorous demands of ultra-running cultivate an advanced degree of mental fortitude, enabling athletes to maintain steady progress even amidst intense fatigue and extreme physical pain.
Ultra-runners find themselves driven by their commitment to the race, their unwavering self-belief fueling them across sprawling distances. Contending with such adversities amplifies not only their athletic caliber but also develops an outstanding level of psychological resilience cherished by elite athletes worldwide.
In essence, undertaking ultra-distance running is akin to participating in a masterclass for nurturing unparalleled mental strength and resilience.
Opportunities for personal growth and accomplishment
Taking on the challenge of an ultra marathon sparks personal growth beyond just physical stamina. Runners cultivate mental toughness as they push through exhaustion and weather unpredictable trail conditions.
Setting, pursuing, and achieving this lofty fitness goal provides a powerful boost to self-esteem. Each stride traverses not just miles but also boundaries of what was previously thought possible.
The achievement mindset developed during training becomes integrated into other areas of life. Promoting overall improvement. Change is integral in running these endurance races – both physically in the body’s increased capacity for resilience and psychologically in bolstering one’s mental strength and determination.
Thus, Ultra marathons create a unique platform for personal advancement that extends far beyond the finish line.
Jumping into the world of ultra marathons can be an exhilarating experience. With proper preparation and a beginner-friendly race, you too can join this unique community of endurance athletes. And I hope this list of the best ultra marathons for beginners has given you some inspiration. So grab your running shoes, pick out the perfect race, and start training for an adventure that will push your limits to new heights!
And make sure to check out my list of the best 100 mile races for beginners here!
1. What is an ultra marathon?
An ultra marathon is a long-distance running race that goes beyond the typical marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
2. How should I train for my first ultra marathon?
For your first ultra marathon, it’s crucial to gradually increase your weekly mileage. Incorporate strength training and recovery periods in your program, and practice eating and drinking during long runs.
3. Are there any specific shoes suitable for running an ultra marathon?
Yes, choosing shoes with good cushioning, grip and comfort features can be beneficial for running an ultra marathon due to the prolonged duration of the run.
4. How do I know if I’m ready to run an ultra-marathon?
If you’re able to comfortably complete a standard distance marathon or have been dedicatedly following a long-distance training plan without injury concerns, you might be ready for an ultramarathon.
5. Can beginners participate in ultramarathons?
Yes, beginners can participate in ultramarathons but they must commit substantial time into appropriately preparing themselves physically and mentally due to the demanding nature of these races.