Ultra races have always been defined as "anything over the marathon distance" which is 50km and longer.
Busy roads have meant most ultra races these days now take place in a park or on an athletics track and some classic races, especially in the UK, have ceased to exist - London to Brighton (55 miles) and back, London to Bath (100 miles) and many more.
However, the Isle of Man races, such as the Parish Walk and the End to End still take place on the open road. Established in 1913, The Parish Walk takes in each of the 17 parishes of the island, covering a distance of 85 miles. A very tough 85 miles due to the undulating nature of the Isle of Man - but well worth the effort. It is a race you will certainly remember. And you will meet lots of Centurions and very many friendly walkers along the route.
France holds a series of 24 hour races - qualifiers for the classic Paris-Alsace multi day race and many Centurions participate in these ultra races.
Many of these races - Bourges, Chateau Thierry and the Paris Alsace race itself, continue to walk on the roads, albeit, quiet out of town centre roads. The Roubaix 28 hour race now takes place entirely within a park.
read more on French races
Dutch walking clubs RWV and OLAT organise many races and walks of various distances 50km and longer (as well as the Continental Centurions 100 miles/24 hour race). The 100 miles race organised by RWV takes place in the Princess Beatrix park in Schiedam, in the outskirts of Rotterdam.
The Australian and New Zealand 100 mile walks are on held on an athletics track.
more distances to try...
Apart from the straight 100 miles in 24 hour races, there are a host of other distances to try - ranging from 6, 8, 12, 28, 48 and 72 hours all the way through to 6 and 8 day races,1000 miles and 5000km.
Many of the multi day races are mostly running ultras, but luckily some do have a walking category with separate results; others, however, don't and basically it doesn't matter whether you run and/or walk.
Just a few of the multi hours and multi day races:
- Royan, on the west coast of France, holds a 12, 24 and 48 hour race every October and has both running and walking categories (no race walking judges). Mostly on dirt track
- International Ultra Marathon Festival Athens, Greece. A running race with 24, 48 and 72 hour races plus 6 days, 1000km, 1000 miles and 2000km up to 5000km... held in January through to March dependant on distance. Entry fees up to 2300 euros for the 5000km race; 6day race: 350 euros.
- EMU 6 day race - Balatonfured in Hungary. No race walking judges. Now held in September.
- Italian Ultra Marathon Festival, Policoro Southern Italy. This running race has many distances on offer: marathon, 6 hours, 50k, 100k, 24H, 48 hours, 6 days through to 1000 km in 10 days....it holds a "Winter edition" in March and a "Summer editon" in September.
- 6 Jours de France - many previous venues and the last few editions held in Privas (France) but a change of venue and date for May 2022. 2023 to be held in April. The race has a walking section which is a judged throughout by official French race walking judges.
- The Dome -USA. In 2020, the first 24 hour of this race was designated a US Centurion qualifier. Indoor track.
Sometimes you just have to decide what is your priority... setting a race walking record, setting any record - or more importantly just "going for it" which means just having a go and enjoying a new experience.
Ultra races where you can walk are listed here along with the results from many of these races.
Ultra walking is not confined to competitive walking... there are lots of "Challenge" events to try as well ...
These are not races but they do aim to test your endurance over many distances in a given timescale.
They are good events to take part in as part of your training for a Centurion 100 mile race as they do test your endurance over distances in a given timescale. Some maybe "off road/trail" walks which may not suit eveyone.
Read more about Challenge events
more on ultra racing
There are many ultra race walks and ultra races where it doesn't matter whether you run or walk.
read about the early days of ultra race walking >
Many of the race walks have ceased to exist such as the London to Brightion in the UK. The Paris -Strasbourg became the Paris - Colmar and is now the Paris - Alsace with a much changed format. In the Isle of Man, the 85 mile Parish Walk is still going strong.
read more on ultra racing in Europe