Ten low-key European ultramarathon races

Always hankered to complete an ultra, but put over by the idea of jostling with crowds or having to accrue interminable items? Here are some of the more relaxed provides from Europes mountainous regions

With the ballot for arguably the most famous ultramarathon in Europe, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc , now open, many athletes will be thinking about 2016 hasten programmes. Other high-profile European ultras, such as Trans Gran Canaria and Transvulcania, keep to increase popularity, mainly due to their combination of malevolent predicament and jaw-droppingly beautiful directions. But if you like your long races a little more low-key perhaps you dont want to sit at your computer thumping refresh on the enter screen repeatedly to get into a hasten before it crowds up, or perhaps your delight of single-track roads in stunning neighbourhoods is spoiled by several thousand other parties and their joints and poles then there are plenty of marvelous hastens to choose from. This is just a small selection of races, based on my own experience and that of some leading buddies.

Laugavegur Ultra Trail

Website: marathon.is/ ultramarathon
Location: Iceland
Distance: 55 km
Month: July

If youre go looking for fantastic sceneries and varied terrain, then this race is a gem. Its a point-to-point run over volcanic boulder, up and down some somewhat big hills, across glaciers and creeks, with occasional smashes of steam rising from the geothermal organisations in the dirt. Its a unique know, topped off with a brew, a feast and a soak in a hot spring at the finish.


Website: lamontagnhard.com
Location: Chamonix, France
Distance: 107 k, 60 k or the brilliantly named Moinshard 40 k
Month: July

Julie Freeman, the co-founder of Like the Wind publication, raves about this race as a lovely, low-key liaison , not dissimilar to hastens such as the CCC to its implementation of terrain and difficulty, but a macrocosm away in numbers of beings. There is an horrid slew of ascending 8,800 m over 107 k so its not for the faint-hearted( as suggested by the epithet ). Julies description shapes it sound absolutely delighted, though: I will ever remember contacting the top of that last slope as the sun was just starting to disappear behind a mountain, tinting the Mont Blanc massif all sorts of pastels. The last checkpoint team was happy to see a smiley face, and I was enthralled when they predicted me that it was all downhill from there. I drenched up the last lights of sunlight as I realised I had been becoming since the sun led up the other side, and flew down the hill to the finish line. I have never finished a hasten without a big smile on my face, and this was no objection. In reality, this was probably my biggest smile in so far like, ever.

Ultra Trail Sierra Norte

The Ultra Trail Sierra Norte: low-key, peaceful. At least until they start detonation Dexys Midnight Runners out of the PA Photograph: Pete Aylward

Website: ultratrailsierranorte.com
Location: Just north of Seville, Spain
Distance: 100 k or marathon
Month: November

Ive merely recalled from this race and it was wonderfully low-key. Instead of the usual millions of people performing a complex series of extends and jostling for rank on the start boundary, 200 marathon runners sat in the shadows of orange trees( with the odd beer it was an afternoon start ), then set off in a very relaxed fashion. The footpaths through the Sierra Norte national park were beautiful, there were some quite aim mounds and we finished in the dark in a city square with Come on Eileen exploding from the PA system.

Ultra Trail Collserola

Website: utcollserola.com/ home
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Distances: 10 k, 23 k, 38 k, 85 k. The 85 k has 3,000 m of ascent
Month: November

Warren Pole, the co-founder of 33Shake, intimated this hasten: Simply sumptuous courses. I spent a few months here finishing Lavaredo UT 2014 education: abundance of hills, very low commerce and a great Spanish vibe. Better still, its alone a few stops on the metro from the centre of Barcelona, in order to be allowed to have one blaze of the states parties/ beach/ winter sunbathe long weekend all over the race if you like. Even “if youre in” Barcelona outside of the hasten weekend, the routes are super-well distinguishes and delineated, so packing your teaches and jumping on the Metro does the magical task of taking you from the very heart of the city into empty trail mountains in a flash.

Transylvania 100 k

Website: transylvania1 00 k.com
Location: Romania
Distances: 100 k, 50 k, 30 k
Month: May

As far as race organisers boasts start, makes, wolves and Count Dracula is jolly hard to beat. Im not certain that a small plain, where you can easily find yourself leading alone, is what Id necessarily choice when ravenous suffers and wolves are lurking in the woods, but Im reliably informed that this hasten has only one epic backdrop. The snowfall, mountains and navigation can make it very difficult, but what better motivation to keep going in an ultra than not being snacked by a accept?

Eiger Ultra Trail

Website: eigerultratrail.ch/ en
Location: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Distances: 101 km, 51 km, 35 km, 16 km
Month: July

2016 is the Eiger Ultra Trails fourth time, and it has been steadily growing in notoriety. Its easy to investigate why, with its stunning orientation( a postcard-perfect Swiss hamlet, overlooked by the Eiger, MAPnch and Jungfrau ), high levels of organisation and a staggeringly beautiful and challenging direction. If you want an alternative to the UTMB races, with a maximum of a five-minute march to the start from any inn in Grindelwald and a much smaller environment, then this is a good option. This was readily my favourite race in 2015.

Ultravasan 90

Holly Rush on her method to succes at Ultravasan. Does anyone know the Swedish for pork pasty? Picture: Holly Rush

Website: vasaloppet.se/ en/ hastens/ running-races/ ultravasan9 0
Location: Sweden
Distances: 90 k, 45 k
Month: August

Holly Rush, Team GB marathon and ultra runner, recommended this hasten: Ultravasan 90 k is in Mora, about 3 hours north of Stockholm its beautiful. Its most known for the Vasaloppet, the biggest and oldest cross-country ski event. The race mostly follows the same direction but in the summer. Its point-to-point, which I adore as you feel as if you are on a jaunt through pine forests, blurred marshes, over gangplanks and through cute Swedish villages. With only 1,000 m of vertical amplification over 90 k, its a fast trend, but the moving can be tough in places if wet. Enjoy blueberry soup and cinnamon buns on such courses. Obviously worth the jaunt to get there. Holly is too meagre to say so, but she won the hasten in 2014.

La 6000 D

Website: la6 000 d.com/ en
Location: La Plagne, France
Distances: 11 k 6D Decouverte, 27 k 6D Lacs, 63 k 6000 D( with 4,000 m of ascent)
Month: July

Another suggestion from Warren Pole: The 6000 D in La Plagne is a beauty. Its bigger than Collserola, but still no UTMB/ Lavaredo/ etc. Its also a manageable enough distance but with onus of clambering( extending past ski depots and through useds frequently, which is a neat knock ), plus all the cheese you can eat, as youd expect from any self-respecting French ultra-trail. I guided it in 2012 and had a ball, despite torrential rainfall for the first three hours.

Grossglockner Ultra Trail

Website: ultratrail.at/ english
Location: Austria
Distances: 110 k( with 7,000 m of ascent ), 50 k, 30 k
Month: July

This race was suggested by proud Austrian Britta Sendlhofer, the writer of Run2 47. com. This has to be one of the toughest ones on the register, structured around Grossglockner, the highest heyday in Austria. The organisers boast 300 conferences over 3,000 m in the following areas, though hopefully they dont make you clamber all of them. Definitely a hasten for fans of big-hearted risings and descents.

Ultra Tour Monte Rosa

Website: ultratourmonterosa.com
Location: Swiss/ Italian border
Distance: 116 k( with 7,500 m of ascending)
Month: September

This is a new race, included on the grounds that it has was established by Lizzy Hawker, Britains greatest ultra athlete, five-times winner of the UTMB and exceptionally big fan of mountains. If there used to be ever a person in a position to develop the perfect mountain ultra, its Lizzy. The race follows the Tour de Monte Rosa footpath, a direction that Lizzy adores and am willing to share with other smugglers, along with her passion for the mountains: My objective are easy to share the rejoice that I have had from ranging. Over my years of running in the mountains, I have explored incredible sceneries, suffered different cultures, shared great experiences and explored my own physical, mental and emotional restrictions. I have challenged myself in all sorts of ways and learnt a huge amount about myself and others. It is all of these things that we hope to encourage people to event for themselves is not simply during the hasten, but during their tour to reach the beginning text, and their travel beyond the finish line. ( From Runner by Lizzy Hawker, Aurum Press, 2015. )

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