Top 10 ultra running events in Europe
Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)
France, Italy, and Switzerland
28.08.23 to 03.09.23
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is widely considered to be the ultimate test of endurance for ultra runners. The course starts and finishes in Chamonix, France and takes runners through Italy and Switzerland, covering a formidable 170 km while accumulating an impressive 10.000 m of elevation gain. It's the highlight of a week-long festival featuring races starting from 50km to 350km and culminating in one main event - the UTMB. To be eligible, you first have to collect at least 10 UTMB points by competing in the other races.
Participants spend up to 46 hours covering some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in Europe, each one hoping to take home the coveted title of UTMB champion.
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Montane Dragon's Back Race
Wales, United Kingdom
04.09.23 to 09.09.23
The Montane Dragon's Back Race is a six-day event that covers over 300 km of trackless, mountainous terrain along the rugged spine of Wales. With over 16.000 m of elevation gain, the course is known for its punishing climbs, steep descents, and unpredictable weather (did I mention the possibility of midges?), making it a true test of a runner's endurance. Not everyone who starts the race actually finishes it, with 38% of participants finishing the race in 2022 and only 24% in 2021.
Marathon de Sables
Sahara Desert, Morocco
21.04.23 to 01.05.23
The Marathon de Sables, aka the "Marathon of the Sands," is an epic adventure through the Sahara Desert in Morocco, where only the toughest competitors dare to participate. The course spans over 250 km and features a diverse range of terrains, from rocky land to sandy dunes, that will challenge even the most seasoned athletes. Competitors face extreme temperatures that can exceed 48 degrees during their journey and they must carry all of their own supplies, including food and water, making this a true test of endurance and self-sufficiency.
Spartathlon Historical Ultramarathon
30.09.23 to 01.10.23
This epic race follows the route of the legendary Greek messenger Pheidippides, who famously ran from Athens to Sparta to deliver a message of victory before collapsing to his death. The course takes over 36 hours to complete, with elevation ranges from sea level to 1200 m, through various terrains including mountains, country roads, citrus orchards and finishing along the coast of Laconia. Only the strongest emerge victorious.
TOR330 - Tor des Géants
Aosta Valley, Italy
10.09.23 to 16.09.23
Get ready to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Italian Alps with the Tor des Géants - a meticulously designed 330 km race that will take you through some of the most stunning scenery in the region. From the rugged terrain of Gran Paradiso National Park to the picturesque trails of Mont Avic Regional Park, every step of the way will leave you in awe. This race is not for the faint-hearted, though. Participants must undergo extreme altitude trails of over 3.000 m, where the elements can be unforgiving. Wind, ice, and snow will challenge even the most experienced runners, pushing you to your limits.
Transgrancanaria classic 128km
Canary Islands, Spain
24.02.23 to 26.02.23
The Transgrancanaria attracts top runners from all over the world, drawn to the race's reputation for breathtaking scenery and challenging terrain. The classic version of the event (yes, there are other categories, including advanced, starter, and kids, just to name a few) takes you through 128 km of lush forests, steep cliffs, and rocky canyons. With over 7.000 m of elevation in some parts, this is no easy race and will test your grit at every step.
Salomon Ultra Pirineu
29.09.23 to 30.09.23
Salomon Pirineu, has various race categories, including Marató (42 km), Mitja (21 km) and Nit (5km), but the queen race of the event is the Ultra category with 100 km of distance and a staggering 6.600 m of elevation. This race attracts participants from over 50 countries every year, taking them through the most spectacular high mountain sections of the Parc Natural del Cadí Moixeró. The event starts and finishes in Bagà, a beautiful town in Barcelona that serves as the perfect backdrop for this incredible event.
In addition, this year, the race will be part of the Spartan Trail World Championship 2023 as part of the "ULTRA 2000" championship. Don’t miss it!
Montane Arctic Spine
29.09.23 to 30.09.23
This one takes you through one of the most magnificent winter landscapes on Earth - the Montane Arctic Spine. It's a 472 km foot race along the Kungsleden Trail in Arctic Sweden, where you'll encounter snowfields, Arctic tundra, and frozen woodlands flanked by Sweden's highest mountains. The challenge? To make it to the finish line at Hemavan without stopping.
With temperatures as low as -35°C and winds reaching up to 40 mph, you'll need to navigate through whiteout conditions while pushing yourself to the limit. It takes true grit and determination to conquer this race, and those who participate will embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
Bavarian Alps, Germany
29.09.23 to 30.09.23
The Zugspitz Ultratrail takes you through 111 km of stunning Bavarian Alps terrain in Germany. It's an epic journey with up to 5.180 m of elevation gain that treks through some of the most impressive alpine scenery you'll ever see - from tranquil mountain lakes to rugged peaks and high-altitude meadows. Aside from the challenging course, the Zugspitz Ultratrail is also renowned for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. You’ll even find less difficult race categories, welcoming all types of runners, from seasoned to beginner.
Cursa di Ciclopi
22.04.23 to 29.04.23
Departing and arriving in the charming seaside village of Cefalù, Cursa di Ciclopi takes you on a journey through 50 municipalities and eight of Italy's most beautiful villages. Along the way, you'll experience alluring landscapes that include four regional parks, part of the Sentiero Italia, the Nebrodi ridge, and the highest active volcano in Europe. This isn’t just another race, it's a chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Sicily.
Ultra running events offer a unique and challenging opportunity to push yourself beyond your limits and experience some of the most beautiful and remote corners of the world. Whether you're looking to test your physical endurance or simply explore new landscapes and cultures, these ten ultra running events are sure to inspire and challenge you. So why not take the leap and sign up for one today? You never know what you're capable of until you try!
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