For some people, being able to run a marathon like the London marathon – 26 miles on the street with no break, is a fitness goal to aspire to, or a challenge of a lifetime. Others, however, laugh in the face of a flat 26 mile run in comfortable temperatures. ‘Too easy’, they say to this. ‘Give me blistering heat, steep inclines, rough terrain, and while we’re at it, isn’t 26 miles a little short?’. Some might call them crazy, but we call them ‘extreme’, and if you are one of them, then you need look no further for the challenge you want than July’s annual Cyprus Ultramarathon. The organisers claim this is the toughest official race in the world, and we are inclined to agree.
The Conditions Ultramarathoners Will Face
There are four different lengths of trail marathon that participants can choose from. The shortest is 20k, then there is a 50k option, 80k if you are feeling hardcore, or, for the ultimate challenge, 217 k. Only one person has ever finished the 217 k version of the race, so it is no mean feat. The distance isn’t the only thing that challenges the endurance of runners in the Cyprus Ultramarathon, however. The races take place on trails in the mountains of Vasa Kellakiou in Limassol, and as you might expect from a marathon that takes place in a mountain range, this means no flat portions. At all. You are either coping with a steep slope going up, or a steep slope going down at all times, and with none of that nice smooth tarmac you get underfoot on a street marathon either – think rocky, bumpy, dusty, untamed terrain.
As well as coping with the gradients and the terrain, runners will also have to deal with temperatures of 40 degrees, with no shade, high humidity and a UV index of 13. Well, it wouldn’t be ‘ultra’ otherwise!
Joining the Race
The Cyprus Ultramarathon for 2014 takes place on July 14th (during the hottest part of the year, naturally), and it is still possible to sign up to take part if you are up for the challenge. Limassol is fairly easy to get to by air, so planning your trip should be a lot less of a beast to deal with than the race itself! Obviously an extreme marathon requires extreme training, but at least with this location, once your campaign is over you can celebrate your accomplishments with some well deserved recovery time on the beach!
Obviously this race is an experience that shouldn’t be entered into lightly, and the idea is to finish your trail of choice in one piece (albeit one very tired, sweaty piece). If you are planning to take on the challenge of any of the four available distance options, you not only need to ensure your training programme will prepare you, but you are also going to need the right gear to wear. Even getting the right socks to wear can make all the difference. Certainly, you are never going to be comfortable during this race, that would kind of defeat the object, but look out for clothing and equipment that will keep you as healthy and as well equipped to go the distance as possible.