Ultra distance running – a diverse sport with a very long history
I specialise in running the standard road and track ultras, which are simply continuations of road and track events – i.e. they just go on for longer. It is in the standard ultras that the real history of the sport lies, with details of performances dating back hundreds of years, still available.
In recent times, the sport of ultrarunning – simply running further than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles/42.2 kilometres – has become very much more diverse with the current wave of popularity being for off road, trail and mountain ultras where competitors run, usually from point-to-point, on scenic tracks and trails. In this form of the sport large numbers of competitors can take part in a, usually, less intense environment.
The simple, standard ultra will, in my opinion, always be the bed rock of the sport. The basic idea of runner against the clock, on an accurately measured course (road loop or track) and then the ability to compare your performance with those of the many who have gone before as well as being able to monitor your own progression.
Consider that the first recorded 1000 miles race was held in Birmingham, England in 1758 and the first 24 hour race (covering the greatest distance possible in 24 hours) was held in 1804! We know the runners and their times and the settings for the events.
Now the 24 Hours is the longest annual world title event endorsed by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The Six Day race (covering the greatest possible distance over six continuous days) reached a peak of popularity in the late 1800′s – the pedestrian era – with regular major indoor races in London and New York. The Scottish Indoor Six Day record dates back to 1882 and was set in New York by George Noremac (or George D. Cameron to give him his correct name – Noremac is Cameron spelt backwards and was his professional name) – 912.90km/567.20mles!
The historical aspects of the sport are one of my major motivating influences. The thought that I am part of the progression of the sport – moving the performances ever onwards and upwards, especially within the age groups.
George Cameron (alias Noremac) professional 6 Day, all-time Scottish record holder – 567 miles.
Set in 1882 – the record is already 130 years (2012).
Follow this link for full details of the inspiring book “King of the Peds” which accounts in amazing detail the age of ‘pedestrianism’.