Written by Stacey Holloway - https://wayrunning.wordpress.com

A couple months ago Robbie Britton caused a stir on the ultra-running facebook group with his article on Fast Running blog ‘Should female runners get double lottery chances in male dominated races?’ A lot of people, all of whom were ultra-runners and the majority of which were men, gave their opinion on both, why women were not entering and how and should this be solved. Anyway, I thought we should just ask women why they were not entering! So I posted the text below onto the Adventure Queens all women outdoor adventure group to find some answers, and hopefully solutions.

‘There is a debate happening on the ultra-running FB group at the moment about helping get more women into ultra-running. I thought we could actually ask some women instead of guessing. Can I ask any runners, especially those who have ran half and full marathons; What stops you from entering an ultra-marathon? And do you have any ideas what may inspire or help more women get into the sport? Thanks!’

One assumption made by the ultra-runners, was that women in general, do not want to run an ultra and that is why they do not enter. However, the majority of the responses  we received (around 40 women commented) began with ‘I would love to do an ultra, but….’

Below I have grouped the responses into to four categories in order of frequency mentioned.

  1. Training
  2. Ability
  3. Time/logistics.
  4. Lack of knowledge of races.

1. TRAINING

A general perception of ultra-running was how long it would take to train for an ultra, that this endeavour would be greater than that needed to run a marathon.

‘‪Definitely to do with time. Training for a half or full marathon is easier time wise. You have to be pretty focused for an ultra!’

2. ABILITY

Comments included lack of discipline to train, being the wrong body shape. Being too slow was a common barrier for women as was fear of injury, not being strong enough and not having the right mind set.

‘Hi there, I’ve run several marathons and half marathons, and entered two ultras and pulled out as I worry about being timed out of an ultra. My marathon pb is 4.45 and half marathon pb is 2.00.’

3. TIME AND LOGISTICS

A big barrier for women was time to train or race due to family and work commitments. Other logistic issues included not having a support crew, cost of races and not wanting to run alone.

‘But an ultra seems like a whole different ball game!

4. LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF RACES.

Another recurring theme was simply, women did not know where to find out about smaller local ultras, or even trail races. This also included not knowing how to find cheaper races.

SUMMARY

As women were writing about what holds them back, other women began providing advice, support and motivation. It became clear that for the majority of these women, who had proclaimed they would ‘love’ to enter an ultra, were held back from entering due to their perception of an ultra-marathon and what it would take to complete one. The reasons given were all very valid and real, yet on revealing some truths about the reality of the back of the pack ultra-runner several women began to consider, that in fact ultra could be for them. In some cases it was a lack of self-belief, this was greatly helped by supportive comments from other women – the role models.

To answer my proposed question – what stops you from entering? From this group of women, it was a perception of ultra-running that did not match up with their perception of themselves. We can through media and race coverage and through roles models address both of these. There were undeniably the time limitation barriers experienced by women, especially for women with a family.

SO HERE TO SMASH SOME MYTHS AND TEAR DOWN THOSE MISLEADING PERCEPTIONS!

  1. IF IT IS LONGER THAN A MARATHON, IT IS AN ULTRA-MARATHON! SO, TRAINING FOR A 30MILER IS NO DIFFERENT TO TRAINING FOR A MARATHON.

  2. IN FACT, TRAINING FOR A 50MILER DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY MORE TRAINING THAN THAT FOR A MARATHON.

  3. ULTRA-RUNNING IS SLOW. IF YOU ARE A SUB 5HOUR MARATHON RUNNER, YOU ARE GOING TO BE FINE. THE LONGER THE RACE, THE SLOWER YOU CAN GO!

  4. ULTRA-RUNNERS WALK. WE WALK A LOT AND WALK UP HILLS.

  5. FOR ULTRAS UNDER 50MILES YOU WILL NOT NEED A CREW. IF YOU DO NEED A CREW ASK ABOUT. PEOPLE, EVEN STRANGERS WILL BE WILLING TO CREW FOR YOU. ASK THE RACE ORGANISERS FOR HELP FINDING A CREW.

  6. AN ULTRA-MARATHON IS NOT JUST A LONG MARATHON. THERE ARE A LOT OF STOPS, EATING, TALKING AND MAKING NEW FRIENDS.

  7. ULTRA-RUNNERS COME IN MANY SHAPES AND SIZES AND THERE IS A HUGE RANGE IN AGES. TURN UP AT A RACE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF. NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

  8. MOST ULTRAS ARE ON TRAILS, RISK OF TRIPPING MAY BE HIGHER, BUT RISK OF INJURY FROM REPETITIVE RUNNING IS LOWER.

  9. ULTRAS COME IN MANY FORMATS, PICK THE RACE FOR YOU. TIMED EVENT, LAP COURSES, SMALL AND LARGE NUMBER OF COMPETITORS. SEE LDWA CHALLENGE EVENTS.

  10. JOIN AN ULTRA RUNNING FACEBOOK GROUP AND SCROLL THROUGH PAST QUESTIONS OR CONTACT A RACE DIRECTOR AND ASK TO VOLUNTEER. IT IS A GREAT COMMUNITY AND YOU WILL LEARN LOADS AND BECOME PART OF THE FAMILY 

  11. AND FOR MORE INFO ON WHERE THE RACES ARE, CHECK OUT HTTPS://WWW.RUNULTRA.CO.UK  AND HTTP://FELLRUNNER.ORG.UK/RACES.PHP

Note: I have been asked if I should repeat this asking a group of men, I agree you may get similar results. I did ask as an open question on twitter to all genders. From men I mainly got the reply ‘nothing stops me.’ One transgender person replied to say anxiety stopped them from entering any races. 

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Vale of Glamorgan Ultra - letting the do…

Vale of Glamorgan Ultra - letting the dog go

Written by Mick Farrar - https://runningoffthemadness.blogspot.fr Race date: 7th April 2018Run Walk CrawlLocation: Wales Coastal Path starting at Penarth and finishing at Ogmore-by-seaWeather/Conditions: rain, waterlogged, overcast, muddy, local flooding, getting the picture?2018 had started damp...

Read more

The Highland Fling 2018

The Highland Fling 2018

Written by Christian Maleedy - https://runningchristian.wordpress.com I have been blessed enough to have run and raced in many hilly and scenic areas of the UK – the Lake District, the Peak District...

Read more

HIGHLAND FLING 2018 RACE REFLECTIONS

HIGHLAND FLING 2018 RACE REFLECTIONS

Written by Stacey Holloway I had not intended to enter the 2018 Fling, with the West Highland Way race in the same year. Back in 2016 it took me 6 weeks...

Read more

Could you run a 200+ miler?

Could you run a 200+ miler?

Written by Neil Bryant  I have run a few races that I class as really long. These being single stage races, over 200 miles such as the Tor des Geants or the Spine. The main difference...

Read more

Kosmos 3-in-1 (Where A Marathon Is The S…

Kosmos 3-in-1 (Where A Marathon Is The Soft Option)

Written by Stuart Mann - http://runningmann.co.za [MARATHON #180 / UNIQUE MARATHON #97 / 10 MARCH 2018] The Kosmos Marathon in Secunda is an easy 90-minute drive from Johannesburg – this is below the “stayover for...

Read more

Costa Blanca Trails 65km, Finestrat

Costa Blanca Trails 65km, Finestrat

Written by Tom Wright - http://life.tomwright.me.uk For ten years I have ritually travelled the AP7 from Altet airport to Denia and marvelled in awe at the strato-volcanic semblance of Puig Campana - Costa...

Read more

Hardmoors 55 2018 Race Report

Hardmoors 55 2018 Race Report

Written by James Campbell - https://jamescampbell78.wordpress.com Since Hardmoors 30, I’ve changed my approach to training fairly radically in order to first recover from injury and then rehabilitate and strengthen myself while still...

Read more

My Tor

My Tor

Written by Neil Bryant I have been running ultras for over 12 years now, and up until around two years ago, got a real kick from races. My races had over...

Read more

THE KALAHARI AUGRABIES EXTREME MARATHON …

THE KALAHARI AUGRABIES EXTREME MARATHON 2017

Race Report by Dion Leonard, winner of KAEM 2017 Photography by Hermien Burger Webb A few thoughts from my last race... In 2012 I bought my wife Lucja a book titled ‘World’s Toughest...

Read more

Arc of Attrition - Eliot Weatherill

Arc of Attrition - Eliot Weatherill

Written by Eliot Weatherill Photography - Zoe Salt The first thing that I should get out of the way here is that I am not a hugely experienced ultra runner in the...

Read more

THAMES RING 250 – JUNE 2017

THAMES RING 250 – JUNE 2017

Written by Bob Wild - https://ultra-average.com A quick warning before you start reading this:This is going to be unpleasantly long, fairly rambling and very boring. It is not the latest blockbuster read...

Read more

Great Glen Ultra Report

Great Glen Ultra Report

Written by John Kynaston - https://johnkynaston.com After the Hardmoors 160 at the end of April I have entered 3 more ultra-races for 2016 and all of them will be new races to...

Read more

Beacons Ultra, Wales | Force 12 Events

Beacons Ultra, Wales | Force 12 Events

Written by Stephen Cousins - http://filmmyrun.com There was a time when I was an ultra virgin, and it really wasn’t all that long ago. Back in April 2014 I had just completed...

Read more

Dorset CTS Ultra

Dorset CTS Ultra

Written by Nick Grahame Dorset Ultra was the third Ultra race I've entered, having got bitten by the bug earlier in the year. The biggest draw for shoe-horning this in at...

Read more

Badwater 135 – The Race

Badwater 135 – The Race

Written by Michelle Jane - https://dreamweaverconsulting.com (This is from memory, and given the length of challenge and sleep deprivation, is as I remember it… the crew may likely have a slightly different...

Read more

2017 Lon Las Ultra

2017 Lon Las Ultra

Written by Paul Ali - https://ultraavon.com After a dream race at the Liverpool Leeds Canal race (link here) there was only one way race results could go and this is a brief report...

Read more

JFK50 MILE 2017

JFK50 MILE 2017

Written by Doug Fernandez Earlier this year, I’d finally won my age group (AG) in Boston. Even though I’d run it 4 times, even setting my PR there, the AG win...

Read more

Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks Race Report

Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks Race Report

Written by John Kynaston - https://johnkynaston.com Saturday 10th September 2016 Ever since I came across this race last year I’ve been looking forward to taking part and it didn’t disappoint! Katrina and I were...

Read more

Share This

Follow Us