Ultrarunning Growing in Popularity

Ultrarunning on an Upward Swing in Popularity There was a time when ultra competitors did not have any issues setting up their ultra calendars. Now with the advent of increased interest in the sport whether you are in Europe, North America or Australia, athletes have to sort out through races on offer on any given weekend.

Furthermore, races have to go the extra mile enticing athletes via their historical background, organization skills or goody bags, to pull forward of the prevailing competition and put their races on the calendars of runners.

How is mainstream athletics reacting to this surge in the popularity of ultrarunning? Is media catching up on the hype of the sport?? What does it mean for us in the future and for the future of ultrarunning???

It is not a surprise to find documentaries on TV dedicated entirely to ultrarunning. I have watched segments, news feeds and even short stories about ultra races around the globe on mainstream sports channels. The combined efforts of our athletes with good quality international races and continued dedication of our federations and volunteers has started to make the difference in the persona of this quite an old sport.

The sport of ultrarunning is no longer an unachievable distance/time but more of a challenge that can be accomplished with dedication and determination. This has turned interests of sporting enthusiasts and the word “ultra” is not a foreign term anymore in athletic terminology.

I have been fortunate enough to be invited around the world to major sporting events and national championships. Regardless of where I go, I have seen the one common factor that unites us all, to give it all we have on any given day to achieve that common goal... glory of the finish line.

Ultrarunning is going into the unknown territory and trying to push the envelope on any given weekend. It is indeed this distance that defines our sport. Specifically the open-ended of it is what makes it enigmatic and somewhat daunting to imagine. The sport can span anywhere from 50km to days/weeks on end.

There are ultra races in Oman, Sri Lanka, Virgin Islands, Egypt and numerous other countries around the world. The sport has taken off in regions which would traditionally not be inclined towards the longer cousin of the traditional 42.2km distance but they have embraced the sport and are introducing it to their local running community.

I feel that the galore and attractiveness of ultrarunning is the “freedom to choose”. One can choose anywhere from the distance (timed or miles), terrain (road, track or trails) and at most times even how far to go in timed events is at one’s discretion. These perks have increased the number of athletes partaking in ultra events in an exponential way.

The sport will continue to grow around the world. The trick will be to bring a cohesive promotion of ultrarunning for a common goal of increasing the profile of the sport and to incorporate that to enhance our championships and events.

Needless to say it is indeed an exciting time for our sport and exhilarating to watch it progress in so many different ways in nations spanning the globe.

(excerpt taken from my article to Ultramag Magazine in Australia)

Nadeem Khan
Director of Communications

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