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Ian Corless: Running Beyond; Epic ultra, trail and sky running races

The feeling of freedom, that is the most common reply to why you run trails.

  • Transvulcania Ultramarathon – Spain; 74 km – In La Palma, it follows famous GR131 route. Highest point is 2.421 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.350 meter. Fastest times are 6:52:30 for men and 8:04:17 for women.
  • Transgrancanaria – Spain; 125 km – In Gran Canaria crosses the island, takes place in March. Highest point is 1.938 meter above see. Total height gain is 8.000 meter. Fastest times are 12:42:08 for men and 15:18:37 for women.
  • Haria Extreme – Spain; 94 km – In Lanzarote, mix between Africa and Europe. The Famara mountains are the key feature of the racing. Highest point is 632 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.050 meter. Fastest times are 8:48:46 for men and 9:32:24 for women.
  • Ultra Skymarathon Madeira – Portugal; 55 km – In Madeira, technical trail race. There are passages that require some climbing and crossing of via ferrata. Highest point is 1.861 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.000 meter. Fastest times are 5:47:57 for men and 6:45:09 for women.
  • Ultra Pirineu – Spain; 110 km – In the Cadi-Moxero Natural Park. Climbs last forever. Starts in Baga. The running is hand-on-knee. Highest point is 2.500 meter above see. Total height gain is 6.800 meter. Fastest times are 11:15:14 for men and 12:39:02 for women.
  • Zegama-Aizkori – Spain; 42 km – four highest peaks in Basque Autonomous Region. Zegama is Zegama. With its famous climb on Sandi Spiritu. Highest point is 1.551 meter above see. Total height gain is 5.472 meter. Fastest times are 3:53:56 for men and 4:34:27 for women.
  • Ronda dels Cims – Andorra; 170 km – starts in Ordino, circular trail. Highest point is 2.942 meter above see. Total height gain is 13.500 meters. Fastest time are 28:41:06 for men and 36:14:02 for women.
  • Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls – Spain; 185 km – trail around Menorca. Highest point is 120 meter above see. Total height gain is 2.864 meters. Fastest time are 19:21:21 for men and 26:56:53 for women.
  • Ice Trail Tarentaise – France; 65 km – it is a race placed around Val d’Isere, traversing glaciers and descending and ascending high mountain peaks. Highest point is 3.653 meter above see. Total height gain is 5.000 meters. Fastest time are 7:35.32 for men and 9:11:11 for women.
  • Le Grande Trail des Templiers – France; 76 km – the great race of Knights Templar, it uses secret paths of Templars. Located around the town of Millau. Highest point is 878 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.050 meters. Fastest time are 5:20:18 for men and 6:08:35 for women.
  • Mont-Blanc – France; 90 km – started in Chamonix, it is getting more and more popular. Start is at 4am and with sun rising you can see Mont Blanc directly in front of you. Highest point is 2.645 meter above see. Total height gain is 6.220 meters. Fastest time are 10:25:52 for men and 12:09:45 for women.
  • Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc – France; 170 km – is UTMB the ultimate trail race? It is something so much more than a race. Highest point is 2.537 meter above see. Total height gain is 10.000 meters. Fastest time are 19:01:54 for men and 22:37:26 for women.
  • Dragon’s Back Race – Wales; 300 km – covering five key regions of Wales, it is impossible to explain how tough, how mentally and physically challenging it was, but also how spiritual it has been[1]. Highest point is 1.085 meter above see. Total height gain is 15.665 meters. Fastest time are 37:58:37 for men and 48:41:17 for women.
  • Lakeland 100 & 50 – England; 161 km – UK’s most respected 100-mile race. In home of Bob Graham Round. Where water and mountain meet. Highest point is 670 meter above see. Total height gain is 6.856 meters. Fastest time are 19:50:37 for men and 23.05:47 for women.
  • Glen Coe Skyline – Scotland; 55 km – I can’t believe we thought this was a sensible thing to do. The enemy was the course, not the other competitors.[2] Circular route of Glen Coe mountains. Highest point is 1.150 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.750 meters. Fastest time are 6:25:39 for men and 7:44:19 for women.
  • Mourne Skyline MTR – Northern Ireland; 35 km – The Mourne Mountain are a granite mountain range in County Down. The Mourne Wall is a key feature of the race. Highest point is 850 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.370 meters. Fastest time are 3:49:39 for men and 4:24:25 for women.
  • Tromso SkyRace – Norway; 45 km – it epitomizes the crossover between running and mountaineering. Home of Killian and Emelie. Highest point is 1.404 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.600 meters. Fastest time are 7:01:01 for men and 8:14:09 for women.
  • Sierre-Zinal – Switzerland; 31 km – from city of Sierre to village of Zinal. Stunning views. Highest point is 2.425 meter above see. Total height gain is 2.200 meters. Fastest time are 2:29:12 for men and 2:54:26 for women.
  • Matterhorn Ultraks – Switzerland; 49 km – with Matterhon in the back, it is stunning race. Highest point is 3.130 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.600 meters. Fastest time are 4:42:31 for men and 5:52:05 for women.
  • Transalpine-Run – Germany; 257 km – running over the marathon distance daily. Running in pairs. Highest point is 2.982 meter above see. Total height gain is 16.446 meters. Fastest time is 28:46:38.
  • Dolomites Skyrace and Vertical KM –Italy; 22 km – town of Canazei and incredible Dolomite Mountain. The terrain is rough, technical and challenging. Highest point is 3.152 meter above see. Total height gain is 1.750 meters. Fastest time are 2:00:11 for men and 2:25:57 for women.
  • Limone Extreme – Italy; 23 km – Limone on Lake Garda, exposed ridges and zigzags. To the summit and back as fast as possible. Highest point is 1.191 meter above see. Total height gain is 2:071 meters. Fastest time are 2:45:25 for men and 3:18:50 for women.
  • Trofeo Kima – Italy; 52 km – it is beyond running. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering, pure skyrunning. This is a race that one aspires to. Highest point is 2.950 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.200 meters. Fastest time are 5:49:10 for men and 7:36:21 for women.
  • Marathon des Sables – Morocco; 251 km – you must respect the heat and harsh conditions of the dessert. The greatest show on earth. Stage format. To endure the journey, to survive on rationed food and water, to share bivouac with seven souls – it all reaffirms that you are living. Fastest time are 19:15:23 for men and 23:16:12 for women.
  • Comrades Marathon – South Africa; 87/89 km – first edition held in 1921. It is race of two directions, up and down. Highest point is 810 meter above see. Total height gain is 2.000 meters. Fastest time are 5:24:49 (up), 5:18:19 (down) for men and 6:09:24 (up), 5:54:43 (down) for women.
  • Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun – South Africa; 200 km – remote and isolated wilderness. Park includes the oldest desert in the world. Highest point is 833 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.400 meters. Fastest time are 13:20:46 for men and 15:26:57 for women.
  • Iznik Ultra – Turkey; 140 km – Lake Iznik in Bursa. Highest point is 756 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.220 meters. Fastest time are 12:53:59 for men and 15:00:40 for women.
  • Lantau 2 Peaks – Hong Kong; 23 km – flashing lights, neon signs, a strong smell of food in the air and stiffing heat with high humidity. Some zigzags up and some wooden steps down. Highest point is 934 meter above see. Total height gain is 1.987 meters. Fastest time are 2:14:07 for men and 2:42:04 for women.
  • Everest Trail Race – Nepal; 160 km – travel is the discovery of truth. It follows route of Hillary and Tenzing from Jiri all the way to Tengboche and head back to Lukla. Like Hillary said: »It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. « Six stages race. Highest point is 6.600 meter above see. Total height gain is 10.400 meters. Fastest time are 18:35:54 for men and 27:29:50 for women.
  • Buffalo Stampede – Australia; 75.5 km – located in Victoria’s Alpine country, race is all about Mount Buffalo. Highest point is 1.300 meter above see. Total height gain is 4.654 meters. Fastest time are 7:48:03 for men and 9:40:42 for women.
  • Run the Rut – USA; 50 km – in Big Sky Montant. Running is often vehicle for new adventures. Highest point is 3.403 meter above see. Total height gain is 3.200 meters. Fastest time are 5:09:31 for men and 6:13:35 for women.
  • Superior 100 – USA; 100 km – a journey along the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). On the shores of Lake Superior. Highest point is 536 meter above see. Total height gain is 6.400 meters. Fastest time are 18:56:02 for men and 22:36:39 for women.
  • Western States – USA; 161 km – once a horse race, become a human one, when Gordy Ainsleigh horse gave up and he finished race on foot. Highest point is 2.656 meter above see. Total height gain is 5.580 meters. Fastest time are 14:30:04 for men and 16:47:19 for women.
  • Grand to Grand – USA; 274 km – Kanab, small town in Utah. Stage racing, hot during day, cold during night. Highest point is 2.651 meter above see. Total height gain is 5.499 meters. Fastest time are 29:34:18 for men and 32:06:48 for women.
  • The Coastal Challenge – Costa Rica; 236 km – up mountain paths, through rainforest, down dirt tracks and following trails over ridges, highlands and coastal ranges. In Corcovado National Park at Drakes Bay. Stage racing. Highest point is 973 meter above see. Total height gain is 10.540 meters. Fastest time are 22:48:36 for men and 26:14:39 for women.

[1] Mike Evans, competitor in the book on page 93

[2] Joe Symonds, champion in 2015 in the book on page 101