So you are venturing into the world of ultramarathons. Welcome! You will absolutely love it and most likely never turn back. But venturing past 26.2 miles brings about a whole new world and here are our tips and tricks of things that you might want to know about running your first ultramarathon:
1. Snack all day.
Aid stations have real food and you have an excuse to eat all day long. Check out what the aid stations have ahead of time and try some out during your training to see how your stomach handles it. Gummy bears, potato chips, pickles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you may see it all.
2. Have a water bottle or vest.
Most ultramarathons won’t have paper cups, but refilling your water bottle at the aid station is completely acceptable and encouraged.
3. Don’t dawdle at aid stations.
Although you will spend a minute or two getting food, going to the bathroom, filling your water bottle, beware of staying too long at the aid stations. If you spend 5 minutes at each aid station, you will be adding a half hour to your race. Time yourself while practicing proper fueling during training in order to be aware of how much time you are spending.
4. Sunscreen and blister prevention are your friends.
You will be running for multiple hours to all day. Make sure to take care of your skin with sunscreen and body glide and reapply when necessary.
5. Be prepared for something to go wrong.
Very few ultramarathoners have a perfect race. With varied terrain and a long time on your feet, something tends to go wrong, just be prepared to roll with it, fix it as best you can and move on.
6. Screenshot the aid station list and set it as your lock screen on your phone.
This way if you want to see what food is at the next aid station or how far away it is, you can quickly glance at your phone without bothering to unlock it. This is assuming you are running with your phone. Alternatively, you can also print it out and laminate it.
7. Hydrate the week before the race.
Going into an ultramarathon dehydrated is a recipe for disaster. Make sure that you have plenty of fluids the week and days leading up to the race. Practicing proper hydration throughout your training segment will help you recover and be best prepared for race day.
8. Don’t try anything new on race day.
Race day is not the time to try something for the first time, never run with poles before, don’t worry about it now.
9. Do what works for you.
Every runner is different and if you ask 100 different ultramarathoners for advice they will give you 100 different answers, you will find out what works for you during your training and stick to it.
10. Have fun.
Ultramarathoners are some of the nicest people around, ultramarathons take place in beautiful areas. Go out there and have a blast while doing something epic.
Ultramarathon Vocabulary for Beginners
Here is a quick lexicon for words that ultramarathoners use that may be foreign to you. You can be in the know with this vocabulary guide.
Drop Bag – this is a bag that you will be given before the race that will be placed at a certain point in the race for you and then returned to after the race. You can put in extra nutrition, clothes, shoes, blister prevention or anything that you think you may need later in the race. This way you don’t need to carry gear for the entire 50K, 50 Miles or longer.
Crew – this is when you have people meet you at aid stations with additional nutrition or equipment. Think of it like a pit crew in car racing, they have everything ready for you so you can get in and out of the aid station as quickly as possible.
Pacer – In some ultramarathons you can have people pace you during the later stages of the race. They are not running the race themselves but are there to help guide you and keep you motivated. This can be helpful for races that are overnight.
Drop – to drop out of the race or not finish.
Vert – Short for vertical, it is the increase in elevation.
Trivium Racing’s Annual Ultramarathon Schedule
Trivium Racing hosts ultramarathons from March through October in Michigan, North Carolina, and West Virginia…
Blackbeard’s Revenge 100 Ultra & Relay offers a 100 Mile, 100K, and 100 Mile Relay along the Outer Banks in March. This point to point race will take athletes the length of the Outer Banks, NC from Corolla to Hatteras. The course is 100% paved road with beautiful views and long distance challenges where great memories will be made along the way! Join the adventure at bitly.com/bbrevenge100.
Highball to Thurmond Ultra and Relay offers a beginner-friendly trail 50 Mile, 55K, and 50 Mile Relay through West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park. Participants will finish in Thurmond, West Virginia. With a population of 5 at the 2010 census, it is the least populated railroad town in the nation. Participants can choose to take the train back to the 50 Mile start line. Learn more at bitly.com/highballtothurmond.
Summer Trail Fest Ultra & Half Marathon (also known as STFU) is a June 50K and Half Marathon trail race in Michigan. With well-groomed trails and extremely generous cutoff times, this is a spectacular race for beginners, season veterans, or athletes looking for a personal best. When you cross the finish line, celebrate at the beach with our post-race STFU barbecue party while cheering for participants on the course. Learn more at bitly.com/stfuraces.
Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra & Relay is a 50 Mile, 50K, and 50 Mile Relay in North Carolina on the first weekend of October. Participants will enjoy the fall scenery through the mountains while running from one iconic North Carolina peak to another. This race sells out months before race day, so if you plan to add this to your schedule, be sure to register early. Learn more at pm2hrultras.com.
Triple Lakes Trail Race Ultra & Relay is an annual trail 40 Mile, 40K, and Half Marathon in Greensboro North Carolina on the last weekend of October. Centered around Lake Brandt, Lake Townsend and Lake Jeanette, this race takes athletes through most of the amazing watershed trails in Greensboro. This race course is extremely well marked, well aided and has very generous cutoffs. Learn more at bitly.com/triplelakesrace.