Where do all these ultra runners come from?

In my first running life, a marathon was regarded as far. Now there are ultra runs everywhere. So, where do all these ultra runners come from?

This is my second running life. I ran the Rotterdam Marathon in 1995 and not long after I had to stop running, because of an ankle injury. In those days the marathon was an impressive distance. Now-a-days a marathon it’s just the baby brother of an ultra, but where do all these ultra runners come from?

RELATED: Am I an ultra runner?

Don’t get me wrong, I think all these ultra runs are great. I just ran Sussex (53 kilometers), I’ll be running the Mighty Marathon (45k) at the MUT Festival in a couple of weeks, and I’m preparing for the 55k at the Dolomiti Extreme Trail. But still, where do all these ultra runners come from?


Crazy people

As far as I remember back in the days you didn’t have all these ultra runners. Yes, you had Winschoten, a 100 kilometer ultra race, but that was just for the crazy people. That handful of lunatics that would run further than a marathon. Normal runners wouldn’t even try their hand on the marathon. That magical distance was something for later in their running life.

How things have changed. These days it looks like you can run an ultra almost every weekend. And not just 50 or 100 kilometers, but also 100 miles. More if you want.

Last year Sara and I watched the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a 171 kilometers long race, with more than 10.000 meters of altitude. You have to be crazy to run a distance like that. Yet there are thousands and thousands of people who want to do it. There are so many ultra runners who want to get in, you now have to qualify and even when you do, there is still a draw to get in.


Rise of the Ultra Runner

It’s all new to me. I like it. Yet, I wonder where all these ultra runners come from. That’s why I started reading a new book: The Rise of the Ultra Runner, written by Adharanand Finn. I just started, so I can’t give you an answer yet. As soon as I can, I let you know.

For now, keep on running.

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John Kraijenbrink

The Running Dutchman

I run. Trails mostly. I am Dutch. That makes me The Running Dutchman.

I am also a massage therapist, yogi, sports science nerd, and journalist/writer. Everything I learn and research about trail running, I share here, on this website, with you.

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