So who are these weird people? I realise that many readers of this blog may know nothing about them....and then some readers might actually be them, but whatever, I think its time I gave us all a quick education. For example, who is the number one male ultra runner in the world today? The number one female runner? Which country hosts the most races? What is the number one race in the world? Is there prize money? What is the hardest race?
World's biggest ultra---- Comrades, S.A. /////// Hardest-------Barkley, USA//////
Hottest-------Badwater,USA /////// Prize money------None /////// Most ultras--------USA, (France is second) //////// Top Male/Female-------There is no official list but for me its Killian Jornet (Spanish) and Lizzy Hawker(English)
To ultra runners it seems quite bizarre that the London Marathon can attract 36,000 runners but the London Ultra 50k......250 runners! and its on a relatively flat course through places like Richmond Park etc......Weird. Many, many years ago I ran the London Marathon and have run many half's on roads but there is just no comparison compared to the snow capped mountains of Val d'allos.Now to be fair I didn't know there was a London Ultra either but that's the point. Advertising and sponsorship plays a major role in these large events. The elite runners in the big city marathons get paid not only to win but also just to turn up. This does not exist in ultra's. You have supreme athletes such as Killian Jornet and Lizzy Hawker; Scott Jurek, Anton Kupricka, Hal Koerner, Dakota Jones, Ann Trason, Krissy Moehl,Geoff Roes......and I could go on, and no one has ever heard of them. They have a small amount of sponsorship but usually have to hang on to their day jobs.
Most elite runners say that the UTMB in the Alps has the most support with crowds even up on the high peaks who have camped out or have a picnic for the day. I would contest that this experience is as spectacular and awe inspiring for them as it is for the runners and surely has a much greater appeal.
I heard a story the other day that during the Lakeland 100 mile ultra, again a prestigious event, one of the checkpoint/aid stations was in a corner shop in the village of Ambleside and the runners had to wait in the queue with the local shoppers, (who had no idea there was a race on).........I am suprised they didn't charge them for the peanuts and mint cake!
Its a funny old world.