Monday, June 17, 2013

The Big 5

" No matter how many goals you have achieved, you must set your sights on a higher one." -Jessica Savitch

While I was running my 30 mile route on Saturday, I started to put together a list of my top 5 must do races.  The list I came up with contains most of the top ultras in the world in terms of popularity and in toughness.  If you're an ultra runner, you are most likely familiar with all of these races. If you're not, below is a short description of each one.

I plan to run each of these races before I retire from ultra running.  To enter most of these races, you either have to qualify or hope you get picked through their lottery system.  Beginning in 2014 and every year after until I get accepted, I will put my name in for all of the races below that have a lottery system.

This list is not in any particular order:

1) Western States 100 - I think this is on everyones list of must do races simply because there is so much history involved with this race.  The race starts in Squaw Valley, CA and runs 100 miles of trail to Auburn, CA. 

2) Hardrock 100 - This is regarded as the toughest ultra in the U.S.  It takes place in Silverton, CO and has 34,000 ft of climbing and 34,000 ft of descending.  The average elevation is 11,186 ft with a high point at 14,048 ft.

3) Badwater 135 - Most people shy away from this race because of the extreme heat. The temperatures can reach a very hot 130F.  The race starts 282 ft below sea level in Death Valley and runs to Mt. Whitney at 8360 ft above sea level.

4) Spartathlon - This is an extremely popular race over seas but not many Americans know about it.  This race starts in Athens and goes 153 miles to Sparta.  You have a whopping 36 hrs to cover this distance.  This race is rich in history, and I have heard from runners who have completed this race that finishing will become the greatest moment in your ultra running career.

5) Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc -  Regarded as the hardest race in the world not only because of the number of mountain passes but also because of the extreme weather.  This race is often shortened due to the unpredictable weather as you traverse around Mont Blanc over many mountain passes and through 3 countries.  The principle of the race is semi self-sufficiency so there are only 10 aid stations.  Everything else must be provided by you. 

All 5 of these races require a lot of hard word and luck to get into them, much less complete them.  Hopefully in the coming years I will be able to start checking them off of my list. 

So there you have it, my top 5 dream races.  What's on your bucket list?


  1. Great list!

    I've never done an ultra marathon before, but the idea is intriguing. I'd love to to the JFK 50 miler one day. For the longest time, I've talked about doing 40 miles on the day I turn 40 (which is a few years off).

    100 mile races seem too daunting for me at this point, but I guess I'll never say never!

  2. I'll be honest, I don't really have a bucket list at the moment. I'm just picking up races as they interest me. I also don't know that I will ever take on an ultra, but that Spartathlon sounds incredible. The history alone of such a trek would make me change me mind. I hope you get there!

  3. I'm doing a couple of races in the next calendar year that I've always wanted to do - the Army 10 miler and the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Would love to do a Rock n Roll Marathon and a couple of other marathons in the future, I've done 2 but it's been a while.