International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation

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Six Things You Should Know About Six Day Races   by Claire Nana

July 2014

Six Things You Should Know About Six Day Races

By Claire Nana, LMFT


Most people have no idea what a six day race is, let alone that people can actually run for six days. The idea seems beyond absurd, and most people have trouble even imagining what it must be like. Do they sleep at all? The really run for six days? Do they eat? What is they have to use the restroom? How, how do they do it? are some common questions.

So in order to clarify what really happens at a six day race and answer the most common questions, I have listed them here.


1. Do they run the entire six days? While each athlete will have his/her own particular strategy, most six day competitors agree that the best approach is to sleep in 20-30 minute segments, a few times each day. This typically amounts to little more than 2-3 total hours of sleep per night. The reason for this is that sleeping more tends to put the body into too deep of a sleep, which is then hard to come out of and get back to running. 20-30 minutes, or the other hand seems to be just enough to let the body rest, get the weight off the legs, but not get into too deep of a sleep that getting back up is quite difficult.


2. Do they eat during the run? Absolutely, and a lot of it is the answer to this question. Unlike marathons, and even some shorter ultras, running for six days will require some real food. Competitors like Joe Fejes, the 2013 winner of the Across The Years, Six Day Race in Arizona, was known to order fried chicken during several days of the run. Pizza, sandwiches, pancakes, even burgers and wraps are all typical faire at a six day race, as well as an often vast selection of muffins, cookies, cakes, and candy.


3. Do they stop to use the restroom? Again, the answer her is yes, and usually often. Most six day races are organized with access to a restroom every few miles or more, as many of them are run around a small loop course, or even 400 meter track with just one aid station that is passed on every loop.


4. Where are these races run? As mentioned above, most race directors and athletes prefer a small loop course (less than one mile), as this keeps them close to their supplies, aid, and crew. In fact, all of the American and International records have been set on small loop courses.


5. Do they changes shoes or clothes? Yes, runners will, at some point want to change into fresh running clothes and change socks, tend to any blisters, or shoe hot spots. for this reason, six day races typically offer a laundry service operating daily that will pick up runners dirty clothes, and deliver them freshly washed running gear.


6. Do they shower? This depends, as each runner will obviously be continuing to run and sweat, showering is usually more for cooling purposes than cleanliness. But, like the laundry service, most six day races will offer a shower facility, and runners usually come equipped with wet wipes, towels and washcloths to clean up as best as they can during the run.


So perhaps the biggest question you may still have is, Are these people superathletes? Actually, no. They are not special, not gifted and have not been endowed with any super human traits. They are simply people who refuse to quit. They have trained themselves to, under no circumstances accept giving up. And they have learned that if they just keep going, they can always go on.


In November, in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, for the first time ever, athletes of all levels will be given a unique opportunity to run with these six day competitors in a race called the Icarus Florida UltraFest. Offered by the International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) formed to support and promote ultrarunning, the Icarus Florida UltraFest offers 13 separate races -- everything from 3 hour to 24 hour races -- interspersed within the six day race, with the idea of giving runners a first hand account of a six day race. The hope is not just that some of their questions about six day races will be answered but that they will leave with the idea that as Icarus Florida UltraFest founders state, Limits do not apply.


For more information about Icarus Florida UltraFest or International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation, Inc., visit www.icarusfloridaultrafest.com or www.internationalultrarunning.com