International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation

Connecting Ultrarunners Across The Globe

Can’t make the hundred mile cutoff times?

Consider a Multi-Day Race

By Claire Nana

Running a hundred miles, no matter how many times you’ve done it is no small undertaking. Even in the best circumstances, something always seems to go wrong. The shoes are too loose, too tight, blisters in unusual places, upset stomach, hydration problems, falling asleep while running, falling down while running, running into a tree. You get the idea.

And even sometimes when things are going ok, there is no guarantee. Many talented athletes have been known to stop halfway, three quarters, or even more into the race, when it just doesn’t seem to “be their day.”

Yet one major factor that everyone -- with the exception of perhaps the most elite runners -- worry about is the cutoff times. In fact, when things start to go wrong, it’s probably the first things a runner asks -- can I make the cutoff times? Especially if it’s something that forces a runner to walk, the prospect of “walking in 50 miles” is pretty overwhelming for most people.

And yet, there is no other option -- except dropping from the race altogether, and going home having missed a goal.

But the truth is, when it comes to the sport of ultra-running, there is another option. Multi-day races, which are longer than 24 hours, and can be up to ten days, allow the runner to run as much or as little as desired during the given time frame. You can stop whenever you like, take a nap, a shower, or even take a longer sleep break. How you design the routine is completely up to you.

As most multi-day races take place on a small loop course -- typical distances are anywhere from 400 meter tracks to five mile loops -- aid is never far away. The loop course also allows a competitor to set up a “personal aid station” with a tent, sleeping bag, preferred food items, etc along the course. This way, any problems -- like blisters -- that arise can be addressed right away.

And when it comes to camaraderie, a multi-day is an ultra-marathon on steroids. Consider ten or more people spending several days together with the idea of pushing themselves as hard as they can. Some go through tremendous lows -- limping and trudging along sleep deprived tired and cranky -- while others come to their side. Others have tremendous highs where everything comes together and the miles fly by -- and runners cheer them on. And what everybody starts together, they finish together. And at the end of the event, they all feel the “post race blues”.

Let’s look at an example. Say you’ve never run a hundred before, and you are worried about being able to finish. In fact, we had a runner just like this at Icarus Florida UltraFest – Spring Edition. You enter the 48 hour event, which is what this woman did. And you focus on doing 100k. Mixing in some walking and running, and going conservatively, you will probably get there around 20 hours -- easily. Now, like this woman in our race, you begin to think about what else you can do. So, you put your shoes back on, and keep going. Before long, you are at 80 miles, and, its now the next day. You have all day, and all night, so you keep going. Why not? Sometime around 5 in the morning on your second day, you hit it. You’ve run a hundred miles. And you ran it easily, pacing yourself, doing as much or as little as you felt comfortable with, knowing you had plenty of time to spare.

And now when you’ve got one hundred under your belt. You know what it feels like. And when you decide to enter another hundred mile race, you’ll know, you’ve already run that far.

For more information on multi-day races or Icarus Florida UltraFest, visit