7 questions on ultramarathons


A 100-mile run in the Cotswold Hills is about to get under way. Last year only 34 out of 60 entrants finished the event. Ultramarathons, which are longer than the traditional marathon distance of 42km (26.2 miles), take place all over the world in hostile environments. How much do you know about them?


1.) Multiple Choice Question

The Marathon des Sables is often described as the toughest foot race in the world. Which African country does it take place it?

Desert run
  1. Ethiopia
  2. Morocco
  3. Namibia

2.) Multiple Choice Question

California's gruelling Badwater Ultramarathon snakes through Death Valley. Why are runners advised to run on the white line on the side of the road?

  1. So running shoes won't melt
  2. Better visibility with sun's glare
  3. So snakes can be seen

3.) Multiple Choice Question

Long-distance runner Michael Randall Hickman, also known as Micah True or Caballo Blanco, died in 2012. Which was the enigmatic tribe of super-athletes he befriended?

Micha True
  1. Tectiteco Indians
  2. Tarahumara Indians
  3. Tonawanda Indians

4.) Multiple Choice Question

A single-stage mountain ultramarathon of approximately 166km crosses France, Italy and Switzerland. Which is it?

Ultra Trail
  1. Mountainman
  2. 7 Valleys Run Ultramarathon
  3. Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

5.) Multiple Choice Question

The Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile is the world's longest certified foot race. Entrants have to complete 5,649 laps of the course in under 52 days. Where is it?

Sore foot
  1. New York
  2. Durban
  3. Melbourne
  4. Christchurch

6.) Multiple Choice Question

The Spartathlon, which takes place in Greece in September, requires participants to run 245km (or almost six consecutive marathons). What is the maximum time allowed?

  1. 36 hours
  2. 48 hours
  3. 60 hours

7.) Multiple Choice Question

The Four Desert Series, a 250km ultra, takes place in four separate stages across the Atacama, Sahara and Gobi (pictured) deserts - and which final 'cold desert'?

Gobi Desert
  1. Patagonian
  2. Siberian
  3. Antarctica


  1. The Marathon des Sables is a six-day, 151-mile (243km) endurance race across the Sahara desert in Morocco
  2. It's so that the extreme heat of the tarmac doesn't melt the soles of running shoes. Temperatures during the race can top 50C.
  3. It was the Tarahumara Indians, a community of indigenous people of northwestern Mexico known for their long-distance running ability. They run multiple marathons on stony trails, wearing thin home-made sandals without cushioning.
  4. It's the UTMB Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which takes place in August. It has an elevation gain of 10,000 metres and is widely regarded as the most difficult foot race in Europe.
  5. It's New York, from June-August every year. The world's oldest and largest ultramarathon starts in Durban. Australia and New Zealand are host to some 100 organised ultramarathons each year.
  6. It's 36 hours. It commemorates the run in 490BC by Athenian messanger Pheidippides who, according to historian Herodotus, reached Sparta the day after he left Athens.
  7. It's Antarctica, which with its negligible annual rainfall is a frozen desert. Only by completing the previous three can participants take part in the final stage, a walk across Antarctica.

Your Score

0 - 2 : Jogger

3 - 6 : Runner

7 - 7 : Olympian

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