With the Ultra Tour of Edinburgh set to launch this month, Jim Mee of Race Adventure Sports gives his top reasons for running an ultramarathon
1.) Guilt free snacking
This is the nub of it all really. Forget fitness and achievement. Imagine a sea of Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers as far as the eye can see. That’s Ultra-nutrition. Eat whatever you like; as much of it as you like and your body will still need more calories. The only problem is, running these sorts of distances is also a bit of an appetite-thief, so you might actually not be able to cram in that 15th tea-cake.
2.) Impress yourself. And your mates
How many people do you know who have run 30 miles/ 50 miles/ 100 miles? *Delete as appropriate. it’s a long way for sure. And it sounds impressive. It IS impressive. But here’s the thing - anyone CAN do it. Everyone has this in them. You need to believe you can do it, be sensible about upping the distance gradually and then boom - you are the Ultramarathon-running hero who everyone is talking about around the water cooler.
3.) See more of the country than you thought you ever would
Ultras usually take place in some pretty amazing spots. You’ll get to see a lot of green, mountains, streams, rivers, the lot. In Scotland, there are loads of events to chose from and the routes are usually chosen to either follow pre-existing long-distance paths and trails or to come up with specially designed hybrid ones – which means they will inevitably go through some very nice places indeed. They are designed to do so.
4.) See some places you really didn’t even know existed
Of course, with routes in far-flung locations, you might know or imagine some of the places you will see. But you’ll also be going on a magical mystery tour of places you never even considered were out there. Bizarre place-names, hidden crofts, secret hidey-holes and glimpses of wildlife will abound. You’ll have those ‘I should come back here’ moments – until you remember the pain that is emanating from inside your trainers.
5.) Top up that tan
Yes, even in Scotland! Even in October. If you spend 24 hours non-stop outdoors, you’ll get a tan. It might be from the neck up and the elbow down, but that’s still a golden hue. Or a reddish glow…
6.) You will look at a motorway sign and think 100 miles is a short journey
Because you know you can run it, to begin with that’ll feel amazing. ‘I can run further than this 2 hr journey I’m embarking on right now in a car’ is a pretty compelling statistic. But then, because you can run it, the speed, distance, time equation of commuting and other day-to-day journeys will just seem, well, short.
7.) Fitness and drinking. In equal measure
It is obvious perhaps that you will become fitter than a Butcher’s dog. But it’s the little things that you’ll notice eventually. Bending down to pick up the kids and the suppleness you have gained; the pace at which you can out-walk your friends when you’re ‘out, out’ and making your way to the next bar. But then, there’s the boozing too. Yes, boozing goes hand in hand with running. You have earned those empty calories – drink up and enjoy!
8.) Four seasons in one day
Well, there is a good chance it may be a bit dreich at some point. And windy. It might snow. It might even be sunny from time to time. But there is an elemental quality about being out in the, er, elements for that long. And it is true what some wise sage once said: ‘There is no such thing as bad weather. Just bad kit.’ Take the right gear and Mother Nature can throw her lot at you and you’ll still be baying for more.
9.) Remember what three in the morning feels like
Clearly running a long way takes a long time. And it is likely that, for the more extreme distances, you’ll be enjoying 12 or maybe even 24 hours of the day in a one-er. Particularly if you are of the ‘plodding’ persuasion. Which is absolutely fine by the way – that is a perfectly reasonable and established ultra marathon pace. But, when was the last time you got to enjoy a sunrise? A beautiful moment that is all yours in the middle of the big, bold beyond?
10.) Birdsong and the sound of the countryside
If you are a city-slicker, you may be au-fait with the odd urban fox rustling around during the early-morning training run, or a few wood pigeons warbling away. But out there on the trail, in the mountains, on the hills and foraging through the glorious countryside of these bountiful lands, the wildlife is abundant, it’s alive and it’s loud. And the further ‘out there’ you go, the more the wildlife will delight and surprise you.
All runners looking to tame the challenge of The Ultra Tour of Edinburgh should head to the website for more information.