Where is Ultrarunning heading?

Posted on July 28, 2008 by

Last week, Lee Troop wrote this when he was delivering the sad news about the final end of the Colac 6 day race:

To the critics, without a change in attitude to change your sport is doomed. Cricket made changes with 20/20, Football now is played indoor at the Telstra Stadium, the Olympics now has BMX racing and the list goes on. The Colac Six Day Race needed to be an event of the modern times and not what it was back from the 1980’s. There comes a time when you have to put back into your sport if you want it to have a future but some of you are only in it for yourselves and that is disappointing for the sport as a whole.

Due to the time and effort that I had put into the race over the last seven years, I was fairly gutted and disapointed  with what had occurred with the Colac race , but I think there are lessons learnt from it. But I digress and should return to what Lee has written above in bold.  Never has a truer word been written about our sport and the future of our sport.

As we all know there are many different types of ultras. These include races and distances over the traditional marathon distance of 42.195km and can be ran/walked on tracks, trail or the road.  They can also be run over a time frame from 6 hours up to 3 months!

In America and Australia at the moment, trail ultras appear to be the dominant force of ultras and who can blame people for running in some of the best  countryside around.

But Im sure there is room or new forms of ultrarunning and new ways of promoting ultrarunning. These could include more treadmill races (as what occurred in Australia last year), 6 day races where the Public can take part on and off during the 6 days (Monaco), perhaps an elimination ultra where once the field has been racing for 6 hours, the last person gets eliminated after each lap until the last person is standing and  the Walking endurathons that are starting to spring up around the world.

We also need to find new ways of promoting Ultras to the masses.  A lot of Ultra races are starting to promote themselves well on the internet, but we have to look at other ways of getting the sport out there.

We need a lot more of the Big trail ultras to have documentaries made about themselves and put on cable tv. We need some ultra to be staged near big city landmarks in different countries.

We need a globalrace that could be staged virtually on the Internet..  People record their distances  via their gps/mobile (like the Lifepilot system already being used). The system is basically cheat free and it would bring the sport closer together.

We need a reality show to be devised around ultras.  12 runners with basic running experience training for an ultra. The series build through their training until the actual event. The ideas could be endless. I’m sure there would be a lot more ideas in the community.

Lee Troop was right. Ultrarunning does have to move with the times or its going to die a slow painful death. But most of all our sport needs everyone to do their part in it’s development and promotion and not sit on their backside or whine and complain endlessly without doing anything about it!

Planet Ultramarathon is going to keep trying to develop it’s web services and in the next year would like to be in a position to start sponsoring races and help getting sponsorship for the sport.  But all this will depend on the Planet Ultramarathont team growing even more.

Phil Essam

* I am also refering to ultrawalking in this article and believe that both would benefit with some new ideas.