Best Ultra Marathons for Beginners | Ultra X

Lewis Mason

Written By Lewis Mason

Lewis is currently studying English and Sport Science at Loughborough University and spending his placement year working with Ultra X. 

Having played representative rugby and cricket Lewis is now looking to test himself on the trails. 

19 September 2021

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Continuing with our ‘Best Ultra Marathons…’ series, today we are focusing on the best global ultra marathons for beginners. Whether you are a keen runner who has yet to break through the 26.2 mile barrier, or are searching for ultramarathon training for beginners, or are yet to purchase your first pair of running trainers, there are races here to accommodate first time ultra runners and experienced athletes.

At Ultra X one of our four core values is accessibility. This value is one of the main ideas that Ultra X was founded on, that anyone of any age, sex, social group or ability has the potential to complete an ultra marathon.

What if you are an experienced ultra runner? Then fear not. These ultramarathons listed below can be the perfect opportunity to train for more extreme and challenging races that are already penciled into your calendar.

All races in this article differ massively, however for varying reasons we believe that they are suitable for beginners new to ultrarunning. Although these ultramarathons may not be the longest, highest or most extreme races in the world, in true Ultra X fashion they offer amazing experiences and definitely aren’t to be overlooked.

Canadian Death Race

Summer Trail Series by Ultra X

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 Calderdale, West Yorkshire

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 26 September 2021

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 100km, 50km and 21km

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From 719m

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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 From £40

In the first weekend of September 2021 we held our first ever Summer Trail Series, and it was a brilliant affair. This race travels through the beautiful hills, valleys and moorlands of Yorkshire, and we think it’s one of the best ultra running events for beginners.

With the option to participate in three different categories (21km, 50km, 100km) the race allows both beginners and experienced runners to find, test or even break through their
comfort zones.

This race has a challenging level of elevation at 3,000m for the 100km race, however the beauty and excitement of the course means that this challenge is truly worthwhile.

Once this race is completed food, drink, music and a generally amazing atmosphere awaits you. Many runners and all crew remain at the finish line to cheer you through the infamous
blue arch. This is truly a stunning event that both beginner and more experienced runners will enjoy.

Grand Union Canal Race

Thames Path Challenge

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Fulham, UK

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10/11 September 2022

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 100km

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350M

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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£198

This race begins in Bishops Park, Fulham and follows the river Thames all the way towards its source. The country’s second longest river meanders through multitudes of beautiful sites both naturally and historically, making this a truly amazing event.

Although 100km, the river route holds an elevation of only 350m, meaning beginners can take their own pace with minimal amounts of strenuous or technical terrain.

The race then culminates with a family orientated BBQ and party, meaning you can celebrate in true style. Beginners, this is a great race for you along England’s most historical, most famous and arguably most beautiful river.

Hurt 100

Salt Flats Endurance Run

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Utah, USA

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6 May 2022

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 50km

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Flat!

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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$160

This 50km race travels across the famous Bonneville salt flats of Utah. These flats form due to the evaporation of lakes, leaving nothing but salt deposits. Due to the reminiscence of snowy terrain this race is a truly surreal experience.

And as for elevation? Well, the clue is in the name. Marketed as the ‘one of the flattest trail courses in existence’, this race travels 25km along extremely flat terrain, then turns around and travels 25km back across the exact same route.

Due to the flat gradient and the firm underfoot trail, this race is perfect for beginners, particularly the 50km distance. However, there are both 50 mile and 100 mile options which would be equally suitable for any beginner looking to break onto the ultra marathon scene.

Woman Running In Mountains

Whistler 50

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Whistler, Canada

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October 2022

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 50km

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 995m

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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$90

Held at the site of the Nordic events for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Whistler 50 is the perfect ultramarathon for beginners. As it is located in a ski resort the preconception may be that the course has masses of elevation, however this is not the case.

Ran on a 10km loop, this race has an aid station every 5km meaning each runner can remain supported and replenished throughout the event. This race also offers options of relay running, meaning that while your teammates take on the course you can absorb the beauty of the Olympic village.

Whistler is also renowned for its party atmosphere and nightlife, meaning any beginner can celebrate the completion of the Ultra in true fashion.

Haliburton Forest Trail Race

Salt Pans Ultra Marathon

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 Botswana

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September 2022

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 100km (3 days)

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 1,000m

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 Salt Pans

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 Beginner

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 £320

The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon was founded in 2019 and is a three day trail run on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans of Botswana. At 100km it is a bit longer than other races on this list but with very little elevation and the distance spread over several days, we think it’s a great first race.

On the face of it, this is probably the best value-for-money ultra out there, costing just £320.

If you are not put off by the 6.5-hour drive through the rural countryside with not much in the way of road markers, then this is a goer! Competitors are given the privilege of traveling through some of Africa’s most beautiful landscapes being the largest salt flat in the world hosting Africa’s only breeding ground of the greater flamingo.

The Jungle Ultra in Peru

Namaqua Quest

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Namaqualand, South Africa

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September 2022

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80km (3 days)

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,852m

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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£195 (R3,850)

The Namaqua Quest is a 80km 3 day event taking place in the Northern Cape of South Africa. This race takes competitors through nature reserves, giving the promise of spotting springboks, ostriches, antelopes and many other exotic animals.

At a modest 80km across 3 days, including an optional ‘lite version’, this race is ideal for first time ultra runners who want a challenge. The location for the start/finish line and accommodation for many of the participants is the Springbok Country Hotel.

Each night participants have the opportunity to have a meal and review images and videos from the day’s course. The stunning scenery, short multi-stage distance and hospitality means that this race is perfect for any runner looking to participate in a multi-stage event.

TRIBE Relay Across Scotland by Ultra X

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 John Muir Way, Scotland

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24-25th June 2021

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 218km

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 2,675m

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 Trail

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 Beginner

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 £138

This race differs from any other Ultra X race as we collaborate with Tribe. Although this race is a continuous 218km it has a slight twist which makes it a great first time ultramarathon.

Through the relay format of this race, participants are able to enter in teams of either 4 or 8.

As a result the distance can be broken down into sections for each team member to complete.

Lasting at least 24 hours you might become slightly sleep deprived, however you also have the opportunity to support, celebrate and achieve with some of your closest friends or family.

This unique format means that the Tribe Relay Across Scotland by Ultra X is definitely a suitable race for anyone. 

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