runs exceeding 42.195km
An ultramarathon is any run exceeding the standard
distance of a marathon, 42.195km. Competition
in ultras differs for other sports as your mind and body can be
your ally or opposition. It is the outcome of the struggle within
that determines the success of an ultra.
An ultramarathoner is,
"a person who derives great personal satisfaction from experiences
that include, but are not limited to: oxygen deprivation, motion
sickness, dehydration, chafing, blistering, vomiting, cramping,
toenail loss, heat stroke and hypothermia.... And preferably all
at once." or
"If you can see the light coming out of the other ear, you're
an Ultra runner"
Australian ultramarathon running owes much to 62 year-old potato
farmer, Cliff Young. Shuffling to victory
in the 1983
Westfield Sydney to Melbourne he created interest for a generally
The world's greatest ultramarathon runner, Yiannis
Kouros, maintained this enthusiasm with his many record-breaking
runs in this and other events in ensuing years.
Westfield withdrew sponsorship in 1991, and the race died. Since
then, numerous trans-America races and one trans-Australia race
have been held. Solo runs around Australia by the likes of Gary
Parsons and Pat Farmer have lifted
the profile of the sport and raised money for admirable causes.
The beauty of ultramarathons is that anyone can enter and run
with the 'greats' - from 82 year old Drew
Kettle who has run all over Australia, to the 'gods' including
Kouros whose 24hr world mark of 303km
is apparently untouchable and Anatoliy Kruglikov,
the Russian who ran 100km in 7 hours and 28 minutes for one of the
middle stages of the Race
of Fire in over 40 degree heat!
Enter an ultra and you can talk with and learn from people who
are living science.
On the whole, the assumptions are well founded. You have to
be 'mad' to do an ultra. But what is 'madness'? It's a term
assigned by society to all people who attempt to push themselves
and life's apparent boundaries. The 'mad' chance life to discover
themselves and prove limits exist only in the confines of the mind.
in Australia isn't big in and it probably never will be but
as the trend towards extreme sports increases, and people search
for greater challenges, this sport will receive a higher profile
as the public come to terms with the motivation behind running a
long, long... long way.
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