Definition of long distance running
The main focus of this site is, of course, events that take several days or more to complete and this is a specialist area of running that has a growing community of 5-10,000 members spread across the world.
To clarify the meaning of terms associated with running long distances, I’ve included standard definitions of the categories below.
What is long distance running?
Long distance covers the 5 kilometre, 10 kilometer, half marathon and up to marathon-length events which is a prelimnary stage of running for an ultrarunner. Most runners don’t venture beyond these distances although indications are that there are more people making the transition to the 50 km distance than in the past with more amd more races selling out especially in the USA.
Ultra distance is usually referred to as beyond the marathon distance of 26.2 miles and ultrarunners usually take the 50 miler as a true ultra rather than 50 km which is some 4 miles more than a regular marathon. It also extends up to and beyond the 100 km,100 mile and 24 hour distance .
The multiday or multi-day distance covers, as its name implies, those distances that take more than a day – 48 hours and up to the super long distance races like the 3100 and the trans-national races.There are a whole range of adventure races incorporating a multi-disciplnary approach and the popular stage races like the Transe-Gaule or the Trans Korea races and of course the Marathon des Sables.
There are a number of team events that can span over a day to complete, for example in the US these events include the Blue Ridge Relay – a 208 mile event with most teams finishing well over the 24 hour mark and the Hood to coast 197 mile relay. In the UK, the Welsh Castles Relay takes place in wales every year.
The Trans-Am races are among the most famous multiday stage races and stories and accounts can also be found on Alan Firth’s invaluable site, Run Across America which at the moment can be found on The Wayback Machine, an internet archive.
Point to point races
As the name implies these races take place from set points and may be loops but are non-stop events such as the Yukon Arctic Ultra – 450 miles across the frozen Yukon in winter, more famously perhaps, the shorter Spartathlon that travels the 246 kilometres (152.85 miles) between Athens and Sparta.