The classic summer beach fortnight isn’t for everyone, least of all runners, who tend to find their minds wandering into fantasies of racing in more exotic locations, often pushing themselves harder and discovering fresh levels of suffering. These are some of the epic runs that occupy their dreams.
The Race That Took 20 Years To Be Repeated: Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race
This infamous race takes place along the mountainous spine of Wales over five days. The route covers 300km with 16,000m of ascent across wild, trackless, remote terrain from Conwy Castle. The original Dragon’s Back Race took place in September 1992, but was not repeated until 2012. With a combination of unforgiving terrain, typically challenging weather and sheer distance, this is justifiably considered to be one of the hardest mountain races in the world.dragonsbackrace.com (opens in new tab)
Damian Hall (opens in new tab)ran it: “The most challenging thing about the Dragon’s Back Race is the navigation. And the 16,000m of ascent. And the cut-off times. And all the effing midges. The distance is the least of your worries, but the scenery is pure Hollywood at times. The organisation is very slick, with great food and lots of thoughtful touches, such as starting at a dramatic castle and free ice creams. A once-in-a-lifetime race and a dream holiday.”
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The Race You Are Least Likely To Finish: The Barkley Marathons
The Barkley Marathons are widely considered to feature the hardest 100-miler in the world. Started in 1986, only 14 runners out of about 800 to enter have ever completed the 100-mile race within the 60-hour cut-off. The race is in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee and was devised by “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell after he heard that Martin Luther King Jr’s killer, James Earl Ray, had escaped from prison in the Frozen Head State Park and only managed to cover 8 miles in 55 hours.facebook.com/TheBarkleyMarathons (opens in new tab)
James Adams (opens in new tab)ran it: “The best thing about the Barkley Marathons is that the course is trying to win. It has quite a good success rate. From beginning to end, the way the race starts and the nature of the course, the whole thing is uniquely crazy.”
The Race Where You Run Around A Mountain: Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc
The UTMB is Europe’s most iconic mountain ultra. The race starts and finishes in the town of Chamonix and circumnavigates Mont Blanc, covering more than 100 miles. The course sees the participants climbing and descending more than 9,600m, through villages in three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland. The men’s record is held by Frenchman François D’Haene (20 hours, 11 minutes and 44 seconds), but don’t worry about trying to beat that.ultratrailmb.com (opens in new tab)
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Tobias Mews (opens in new tab)ran it: “That moment when you’ve been running through the entire night, your morale is at an all-time low and then, just when you feel you can’t go a step further, the sun pokes its head above the mountains, casting a warm glow. It’s a memory I’ll never forget.”
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The Challenge Most Likely To End With A Pint: Bob Graham Round
The Bob Graham Round is an iconic challenge (not an organised race, so can be attempted at any time, clockwise or anti-clockwise) where runners aim to traverse 42 fells in the Lake District within a 24-hour period. It’s named after a Keswick guesthouse owner, who broke the Lakeland Fell record in 1932; the current men’s record of 13 hours 53 minutes was set by Billy Bland in 1982. You’ll need to be accompanied throughout the challenge if you want your attempt to be recognised by the official Bob Graham Club, where you’ll join an elite group of less than 2,000 successful fell runners.bobgrahamclub.org.uk (opens in new tab)
Bruce Duncan (opens in new tab)ran it: “The Bob Graham is iconic, but fewer people have done it than have stood on the summit of Everest.”
The World’s Oldest Annual Marathon: The Boston Marathon
John Graham, manager for the USA’s first Olympic marathon team, was inspired to start the event in 1897 by the Olympic marathon in Athens the previous year. Until 1972 the race was only open to men, although in 1966 Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the course illegally. A year later Katherine Switzer registered with her initials and race director Jock Semple tried to manhandle her off the course mid-race – Switzer’s boyfriend Tom Miller body-checked Semple to allow her to finish.baa.org (opens in new tab)
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James Poole (opens in new tab)ran it: “After 120 years, the Boston Marathon is in the DNA of the people who live there. Everyone wants to know your story and to share theirs. Boston is like combining Parkrun with the Olympics. You have to earn your way there, but it really is accessible to everyone.”
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The Race Where Once Is Never Enough: Comrades Marathon
An annual race in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, with the course travelling between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, this is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon. It was started by First World War veteran Vic Clapham to honour the South African soldiers killed in the conflict. The aim of the race is to “celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity” with alternating “up” and “down” legs run in opposite directions.comrades.com (opens in new tab)
Holly Rush (opens in new tab)ran it: “The thing I wasn’t expecting was 87km of continuous hills and 80km of barbecues/partying South Africans. There were a lot of drunk happy people on the course – it made for a party atmosphere.”
The Run Where You’ll Tackle Forests, High Altitude, Water And Extremes Of Weather: Te Araroa Trail
Fancy taking on a 3,000km route stretching from Cape Reinga in the north of New Zealand to Bluff in the south, crossing the Cook Straight between the two islands? This is a trail that will push even the hardest adventurer to the limits and should only be undertaken with extensive support. It is too long between towns to run unsupported.teararoa.org.nz (opens in new tab)
Jez Bragg (opens in new tab)ran it: “The Te Araroa Trail showcases New Zealand’s incredible landscapes, making long-distance travel on foot just pure pleasure. Most invaluable bit of kit would have to be a SPOT personal locator beacon. If you’re soloing through the wilderness like I was, you really need the safety net of emergency rescue if it hits the fan.”
The Race Where You Can Take Part In One Of The Largest Community Events In The World: City2Surf
The City2Surf is a 14km road race held annually in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the most visually stunning events you could ever hope for. The race started in 1971, with 1,500 runners. In 1991 Steve Moneghetti won the race for the fourth time in a row and set the course record of 40 minutes and 3 seconds, which still stands.city2surf.com.au (opens in new tab)
Ben Moreau (opens in new tab)won it: “I’ll never forget that feeling of grinding up Heartbreak Hill at 8km, with about 4km of climbing, and then with 2km to go, you see Bondi Beach below you. An amazing sight on any day but when you are broken by the hills, it’s even more amazing.”
More about running
What is a good running challenge? ›
Complete a 30 day running streak
Many runners consider this one of the best running challenges as it's a great way to get back into running following the Christmas break or some time away from running. What is this? A running streak means running at least one mile every day for 30 days.
- MOTIVATION. Motivation can be the key to success or the final nail in the coffin for runners. ...
- HITTING THE WALL. This is the Achilles heel of every runner. ...
- TIGHT CALF MUSCLES. It's no secret that long-distance running can take its toll on your muscles, and your calves in particular. ...
- LOSING STEAM. ...
- AVOIDING ILLNESS. ...
Running 30 minutes a day is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and a manageable healthy habit for most people. If you're just getting started, commit to running 30 minutes a day 2-3 days a week and build up from there.Does running age your face? ›
“What we call 'runner's face' does indeed often correlate with a runner's body type and lifestyle, but running does not specifically cause one to have a gaunt face.” The urban legend that's coined this look is actually caused by loss of volume and skin elasticity.Is it OK to run 5k every day? ›
Running is one of the best things you can do for your body, and running 5k every day is enough for most of the general physical and mental benefits of running without some of the potential downsides of overtraining or over doing things.What are the 5 basic skills in running? ›
The skill of running includes jogging, sprinting, chasing, dodging and evading. All of these are important to many games (e.g. tag), sports (e.g. athletics) and everyday activities (e.g. running to get to school on time).Can you change shape by running? ›
Running is a great way to get in shape and lose weight. But it's a high-impact exercise. High-impact workouts can be harder on your body than low-impact exercises like walking.How can I be explosive when running? ›
Use Body Weight-based Power Exercise: As a runner, the best tool you have for power training is your own body weight! Jump squats, long jumps, and plyometric skips are all great ways to become more explosive without fancy gym equipment.What are the 3 principles of running? ›
These foundational principles in running are the pose, the fall, and the pull. The better you can do these 3 principles of running, the better runner you will be.What foods to avoid before running? ›
- Broccoli, artichokes, or other high-fiber veggies.
- Apples, pears, or other high-fiber fruits.
- Cheese, red meat, bacon, or other high-fiber foods.
- Caffeine (in large amounts)
- Spicy foods.
What are the 6 phases of running? ›
- Right Loading Phase.
- Right Propulsion Phase (End)
- Left Recovery Phase.
- Beginning of the Loading Phase.
A common basketball conditioning drill, 17s requires you to run from sideline to sideline 17 times in just over a minute.What is the best running technique? ›
- Slightly lean forward from your waist while engaging your core.
- Lift your chest, soften your shoulders, and draw them away from your ears.
- Use short, fast strides to conserve energy.
- To reduce your chance of injury, land softly and quietly with minimal impact.
What is runner's face? If you haven't heard the term, you've likely seen it. It is the face of a lifelong runner with leathery, saggy skin and a gaunt appearance. It is the result of lots of sun exposure and little body fat.Does running give abs? ›
“Yes, running can help give you defined abs,” said Todd Buckingham, Ph. D., exercise physiologist. But before you get too excited, it's important to note that running alone isn't enough to improve muscular definition in your midsection.Does running reduce belly fat? ›
However, the good news is that running is one of the best forms of exercise to lose belly fat, and there are even a few small tweaks you can make to your regular running schedule to deliver a sustained fat burning boost.What are runners legs? ›
You'll probably say “no problem.” The runner would have the lean, straight legs with angular quads, lean hips but little definition in their outer glutes, and tight rears but not especially lifted ones. The dancer would have the curvier legs, the defined, lifted glutes, and the more compact, firmer looking muscles.Why do runners look younger? ›
Running increases the production of human growth hormone—your body's natural youth serum. "This helps you produce new cells, which can make your skin look a lot more youthful," says Webb.Does running make you more attractive? ›
In mate selection generally, it is generally incumbent on men to be attractive to women. Having said that, around 50 percent of men think that women who run have better health and are likely to bear healthy offspring. Furthermore, 35 percent of men judge women who run to be attractive.What is a respectable 5K time? ›
Many runners complete a 5K in 30 to 40 minutes, and many runners are satisfied with their time if it's around this benchmark. The average walker finishes a 5K in 45 to 60 minutes.
What is too much running? ›
When your running habit becomes excessive, meaning you are running more than 20-30 miles per week, the benefits of lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, and other cardiovascular gains start to fade.What is the average time to run a 5K by age? ›
Running boosts self-esteem, and research shows that people who exercise have more positive body image and feel more desirable and confident in the bedroom. “They feel good in their bodies,” said Ian Kerner, a sex therapist in New York City.What should you not drink after a run? ›
Most of us would do well to avoid pop, beer and soda water after a big effort. Again, the bubbles can be hard on your stomach, and they'll fill you up too quickly so you won't be able to drink as much water. It also might ruin your appetite for your post-workout meal.
A big body type that is ectomorphic or mesomorphic is going to be much better at sprinting as these traits make people much stronger. Shorter runners with thin body types tend to make better long-distance runners than taller runners as long and large legs make it difficult to lift and propel a body forward.What is the most important body part for running? ›
The calf muscles are the most important muscles in the propulsion phase of running. If you can only one strengthening exercise, calf raises are the one to do. Remember, calves are king! The abdominals are important to keep you stable and ensure the power that your legs generate is not lost by compensatory movements.How can I improve my running ability? ›
- Stay Consistent. You build endurance by running as regularly as you can. ...
- Increase Your Mileage Gradually. ...
- Incorporate HIIT Into Your Training. ...
- Practice Plyometrics. ...
- Manage Your Stress. ...
- Run 800-Meter Intervals. ...
- Don't Skip Strength Training.
- Over 1 billion pairs of running shoes are sold world-wide each year. 104.3 calories are burned every mile when running at a 10 minute/mile pace.
- The fastest mile was run by Moroccan, Hitcham El Guerrouj in 3:43:13 in 1999. ...
- Running burns about 50% more calories than walking.
Some common examples of cardio exercise include running, dancing, walking, biking, and swimming. Cardio, or aerobic exercise, can promote fat burning and fat loss to help slim down your face.Is running addictive? ›
Running can be particularly addictive because of what is known as “runner's high,” the elated feeling that results from hormones in the body getting released from physical activity and endorphins. A new study looked at the increase in physical injuries that can result from an addiction to running.
Why are runners so lean? ›
Generally speaking, runners are very skinny due to the way they train. After long runs, the body depletes its glycogen reserves and uses fat as a source of energy. This results in more efficient and endurant but leaner muscles.Does running angry make you faster? ›
“Moderate levels of anger can make you stronger, faster, increase your stamina, decrease your perception of pain,” Abrams says.Does anger help you run faster? ›
Strong emotions generate strong responses. An intense basic emotion can impact your exertion during a workout. The result is one that contrasts your typical everyday run. You may feel exceptionally quick or finish the same route minutes faster than usual.How do I run mentally harder? ›
- Visualize your goals. Visualization plays an important role in mental training, helping us develop our skills and reach our fitness goals. ...
- Talk to yourself. ...
- Distract yourself. ...
- Meditate. ...
- Look forward to finishing.
The 10-percent rule (10PR) is one of the most important and time-proven principles in running. It states that you should never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week. The 10PR gains its importance from the fact that the vast majority of running injuries are overuse injuries.What is the golden rule of running? ›
Don't Eat, Drink or Wear Anything New During a Race
You don't want to risk chafing or GI distress that could derail all the hard training you put in leading up to the big day. The same rule applies to difficult or long training runs, as well as what you eat and drink the night before you toe the line.
Many experts suggest that mid-foot striking is the preferable way to land when running and applies to both long and short distance runners and sprinters. By striking with the mid-foot, you can maintain your forward momentum and minimize additional stress on your joints.How do I get energy before a run? ›
- Sweets - if you are about to go for a run, these can be a guilt free way of getting an energy boost.
- Bananas, which are a source of carbohydrates and complex sugars.
- Consider taking an energy drink before running for a quick burst of calories.
In general, it's recommended to eat before running. This gives your body the fuel it needs to exercise safely and efficiently. If you prefer to run on an empty stomach, stick to light to moderate running. Take a break if you start to feel lightheaded.Are bananas good before runs? ›
“Ripe bananas are an excellent pre-run food because they're rich in easily-digestible starch and sugars that can quickly get to the bloodstream to maintain blood sugar,” Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, says.
WHAT ARE THE ABCS of running? ›
What is the running ABC? As the name “running ABC” suggests, these running exercises teach important technical basics that every runner should know. These exercises include ankling, high knees, butt kicks, carioca, and bounding.What are the two types of runners? ›
Runners can usually be divided into three general types — Speedsters, Endurance Monsters and Combo Runners – based on how they respond to training and racing.Why do runners start on the ground? ›
It involves the body being held in a crouched pose before springing off of the back foot. This start is preferred by athletes as it allows more horizontal velocity to be generated in the running motion - this is because of the increased force that the body takes off at.What is a realistic running goal? ›
Make running a regular, consistent habit. Run your first 5k without walking. Improve upon your 5k time and get faster! Run your first 10k and then half marathon. Run a faster half marathon.What is a reasonable running goal? ›
This equates to a rate of roughly 8 minutes per mile and should be manageable after a few weeks of solid and consistent training. Once you've beat the 25-minute target, reset at 24 minutes, then 23, and so on. It's always good to keep trying to beat your PB as it means you'll be focused on improving your running.Is running 30 minutes 3 times a week enough? ›
If you can run 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes, the internal health benefits will very quickly start to show on the surface, too. You'll soon see effects like more defined muscles, pounds off the scale, and clearer, healthier skin.Does a 30 minute run do anything? ›
Studies have shown that 30 minutes of exercise can help to be beneficial for depression and anxiety symptoms, with many regular runners finding it helps to relieve stress and boost mental health.What is the ideal runner's body? ›
A big body type that is ectomorphic or mesomorphic is going to be much better at sprinting as these traits make people much stronger. Shorter runners with thin body types tend to make better long-distance runners than taller runners as long and large legs make it difficult to lift and propel a body forward.What is the best distance to run daily? ›
“Between 1.6 and 4.8 kilometres is a reasonable beginning distance for a day's running. This running distance is thought to be the most effective for lowering the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.What is a good running pace by age? ›
Average running speed per mile in a 5K.
|Age||Men (minutes per mile)||Women (minutes per mile)|
What is a respectable running pace? ›
A noncompetitive, relatively in-shape runner usually completes one mile in about 9 to 10 minutes, on average. If you're new to running, you might run one mile in closer to 12 to 15 minutes as you build up endurance. Elite marathon runners average a mile in around 4 to 5 minutes.Is jogging better than running? ›
Running is faster, uses more kilojoules and demands more effort from the heart, lungs and muscles than jogging. Running requires a higher level of overall fitness than jogging. Both running and jogging are forms of aerobic exercise.Will running make me skinny? ›
Running is an excellent form of exercise for weight loss. It burns a lot of calories, may help you continue to burn calories long after a workout, may help suppress appetite and targets harmful belly fat. What's more, running has many other benefits for your health and is simple to begin.What happens to my body if I run everyday? ›
Running every day may increase your risk for an overuse injury. Overuse injuries result from taking on too much physical activity, too fast, and not allowing the body to adjust. Or they can result from technique errors, such as running with poor form and overloading certain muscles.