Sports | April 3, 2018 4:00 am

Why The Ultramarathon Is Picking Up Speed With Runners

The number of ultramarathons has increased 1,000 percent over the last decade.

Runners compete in the Two Oceans ultra-marathon, on March 31, 2018, in Cape Town. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

The ultimate high-endurance sport is picking up traction. The number of ultramarathons, foot races of 100 miles or more, has increased by 1,000 percent over the last decade, reports The Guardian. 

Why do so many people want to race for 100 miles or more? The initial attraction is the “call of the wild,” writes Adharanand Finn for The Guardian. The race is a life experience, an exciting adventure that gives someone the opportunity to cross a vast stretch of undeveloped land in solitude with just small supplies.

Extreme athlete Karl Egloff says that racing up a mountain provides him with a sense of freedom. “When I go up a mountain travelling light and moving quickly, it’s different. I feel free, like flying, like a condor,” he told the British newspaper

Finn also writes that ultramarathons can be a really “life-affirming experience.” You are forced to dig deeper inside yourself, while overcoming doubt and pain. Lindley Chambers, chairman of the Trailing Running Association, says that the sport’s growing appeal is the opportunity to be fully alive and on the edge instead of living a normal, “sedate life.” “As our regular, mundane lives become ever more sedentary,” he told The Guardian, “we have a need for something more.”

There are health benefits, too. Dr. Martin Hoffman, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of California, found that ultrarunners were healthier than the non-ultrarunning population. They also had fewer sick days off work.