Best Ultra Marathons In Europe: The Ultimate European Races 2020

Written By Jamie Sparks

Jamie is one of the Ultra X Co-Founders. He enjoys rambling on about a variety of topics; motorbikes, cycling, adventure, and, of course, ultra running.

22 February 2020


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In this article we look at the best ultramarathons in Europe, including all formats in the ultra marathon category: single stage, multi stage, 100 mile and more. We think the below European races should have a spot on every runner’s bucket list.

The following events have been graded in difficulty: accessible, intermediate, hard, and brutal.

Right. You’re only here for one reason, so let’s get to it!

Ultra X 125 Azores

Ultra X 125 Azores is one of the most spectacular island ultramarathons on earth. Situated 1,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal, this tiny archipelago of islands offers incredible trails along volcanoes, through amazing green valleys and past stunning lagoons.

Runners begin under Ponta Delgada’s city gates at 5am on Saturday morning and head out of the city and up into the hills. Saturday night is spent in a beautiful campsite located at sea level overlooking the ocean. On Sunday, runners will take on the marathon stage before crossing the finish line to much fanfare and a finishers BBQ. Prize giving will take place in the city that evening. This is the ultimate weekend ultra and a great opportunity to see a part of the world you may never travel to otherwise, and what’s more, the value for money is excellent.

Where: São Miguel, Azores (Portugal
When: 25-26 April 2020
Distance: 125km (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 5,800m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £295

Transylvania 100k

Now looking forward to its seventh edition, this mountain ultra crosses one of the most beautiful and mysterious regions of Eastern Europe. In May 2020, runners will assemble on the start line beneath Dracula’s Castle in the village of Bran, ready for an adventure through the alpine scenery of rural Transylvania.

Twisting single tracks, ancient forest trails, mountain plateaus and windswept ridges will link together in the Bucegi Range, climbing and descending many thousands of metres before finishing back at the Bran Castle. For those looking for a not-so-well-known race at a great price, this one could be for you.

Where: Romania
When: 16 May 2020
Distance: 100km
Elevation Gain: 6,444m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Hard
Entry Price: 95€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - transylvania 100

Eiger Ultra Trail

Starting in the Swiss alpine town of Grindelwald, this route passes through the most breathtaking viewpoints in the area; Grosse Scheidegg, Bachalpsee and Wengen, before traversing the base of the Eiger North Face itself. This event delivers a truly spectacular experience.

With a distance of 101km and an elevation gain of 6,700m, the E101 is a mighty challenge to even the most seasoned of trail runners, and the chance of winning the Mountain Prize at the Grosse Scheidegg should help provide a little extra motivation. The E101 trail must be completed under the partial self-support principle. This event also offers 50km and 35km race options. If this one appeals to you, be sure to throw your name in the hat the moment registrations open, as it sells out every year.

Where: Switzerland
When: 18 July 2020
Distance: 101km
Elevation Gain: 6,700m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £170

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - eiger ultra trail

Mozart 100

The Mozart 100 is a great option; not only for those after great value for money but also for those who want to experience the beautiful scenery made famous in the movie The Sound of Music. Before the race, runners should stay in the ancient city of Salzburg situated on the border of Germany, with views of the Eastern Alps. It’s also the home of energy drink giant Red Bull, and boy will you need a few of those.

For those who want a more leisurely run, there’s the Mozart Marathon, the Mozart Light and the Mozart Half Marathon.

The start and finish area of the Mozart 100, the Mozart Ultra and the Mozart City Trail is in Kapitelplatz Square which has proven itself as a great starting and finishing area in the city. This beautiful square, embedded between Salzburg Cathedral and Hohensalzburg Fortress, creates a wonderful ambience.

For those looking for a challenging ultra but not looking to put themselves in hospital, this is a great race choice.

Where: Austria
When: 20 June 2020
Distance: 108km
Elevation Gain: 5,000m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Hard
Entry Price: 119-179€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - mozart ultra

Fire & Ice Ultra

This race’s route is planned over many months in order to provide runners with the most challenging and spectacular course. This is the longest race in our article and takes place over 6 stages with each stage offering a different distance. The longest day is 70km. This is an all-inclusive package and runners will sleep in tents provided by the race organisers each night.

The landscape is no doubt beautiful and according to the race website you will have the opportunity to view things you can’t anywhere else in the world. Steaming lava fields, ash covered mountains and the most powerful waterfall in the Northern Hemisphere to name a few. Multi-stage races are more adventures than anything else and we have no doubt that this event will be a wonderful experience for all those involved. After all, once the memories have faded, it will be the friendships which last the test of time.

Where: Iceland
When: 31 August 2020
Distance: 250km (6 days)
Elevation Gain: “Not too much” (according to the race website)
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Entry Price: £2,600

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - fire and ice ultra

UTMR (Ultra Tour Monte Rosa)

The spectacular Monte Rosa massif, boasts 10 summits over 4,000m and lies on the Swiss Italian border. UTMR follows the wildly beautiful trails of the Tour de Monte Rosa and takes runners on an epic adventure. For those tough enough to take on this beast of a race you will not be disappointed with your surroundings. The Monte Rosa massif has inspired not only mountaineers, but also poets, writers and explorers — it will inspire you too.

As well as the single stage UTMR there are two other race options: a 4 day stage race which splits the course into four, more manageable, 30-50km days and a 100km ultra, but this sill has 6,420m of elevation gain.

Where: Switzerland & Italy
When: 3 September 2020
Distance: 170km
Elevation Gain: 11,300m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: 298€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - ultra trail monte rosa utmr

UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc)

This one takes place every summer in the French mountain resort of Chamonix and is widely regarded as one of the most difficult ultramarathons in the world. It’s also one of the largest, with more than 2,500 toeing the start line in August.

UTMB takes place over 7 days and hosts four other events, ranging from a 50km ultra to a 350km team event. The races have strict entry and qualification requirements. Hopeful participants must accumulate enough race points to qualify, gained in other trail races over the previous two years. As of 2020, you need a minimum of 10 UTMB points (which must come from only two races) to enter the ballot for the main event.

While the best runners complete the loop in just over 20 hours, most runners take 32 to 46 hours to reach the finish line. Most runners will also have to run through two nights in order to complete the race.

Where: France, Italy and Switzerland
When: 28 August 2020
Distance: 171km
Elevation Gain: 10,300m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: 262€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - ultra trail du mont blanc utmb


The Spartathlon relives the story of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner who, in 490 BC (before the battle of Marathon), was sent to Sparta from Athens to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens (he clearly got his hands on a horse).

In 1984, the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded, which, since then, has continuously organised the race each September. The choice of this month is because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides’ run to Spartan.

The race’s aid stations are placed every 3-5km apart and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is very demanding, not only because of the distance, but also for the cut-off requirements and weather conditions.

Each of the 75 race check points (yes, you read that correctly) has its own cut-off. Should a runner arrive later than the official closing time he or she will be eliminated from the race.

Where: Greece
When: 25 September 2020
Distance: 246km
Elevation Gain: Unknown
Terrain: Road
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: 600€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - spartathlon

Tor des Géants

According to the race website the Tor des Géants is the first non-stop race of its kind to cover an entire region. The route runs along spectacular alpine trails, through the Gran Paradiso National and Mont Avic Regional Parks.

Starting and finishing in Courmayeur, Italy, the 2020 race will see over 2,000 competitors from 76 nations attempt to cover the 205 miles/330km, whilst staying ahead of a cut-off time of 150 hours.

This trail is not only a competitive sporting event, but also a means of promoting tourism for the Aosta Valley and the municipalities involved.

Oh, and if the 330km race doesn’t seem enough for you, the organisers have recently introduced a TOR450 to mark the 10th anniversary of the race. It’s 450km and has over 32,000m of elevation. Standard.

Where: Italy
When: 13 September 2020
Distance: 330km
Elevation Gain: 24,000m
Terrain: Trail
Difficulty Level: We’ve introduced a new category for this one. It’s called ‘Stupid’.
Entry Price: 750€

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - tor des geants


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