We launched our race difficulty grading system to give competitors, especially those new to the world of ultra trail running, the ability to identify which race is most suitable for them.
We truly believe that anyone with the correct mindset and preparation can go from 5km runner to Ultra X finisher in a very short period of time.
Our scores are an amalgamation of the distance, elevation, technicality, and weather conditions of each race. Please note that scores are relative to the distance – 125km or 250km.
For example, Sri Lanka is a 3/6 for a 250km race and Azores is a 4/6 for a 125km race. Obviously Sri Lanka is double the distance and, whilst relatively flat, is very hot and humid. However, once you factor in the 5,000+ metres of elevation in the Azores, we decided to grade it one step higher than Sri Lanka.
In summary, each race score is, we feel, an accurate reflection of the overall difficulty of each event.
If you have a specific question regarding our difficulty grading system, please feel free to reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although “only” 125km, the Azores is a hilly and technical race, with several steep climbs spread over 5,000m of elevation gain. The weather, though consistently warm at sea level, can suddenly become challenging up in the mountains.
The 50km “Sunday only” stage of Ultra X 125 Azores is little more than a marathon but with river crossings, technical terrain, and the highest point on São Miguel to contend with, this is a tough (but achievable) event for ultramarathon newbies.
Though the climbs can hardly be described as mountainous, the route is consistently undulating, and there are some sections of technical terrain. The weather is windy but mild in September (but, being England, it can be unpredictable).
At 50km (the shortest ‘ultra’ distance) and with undulating terrain but no serious climbs, it’s not surprising that more than 40% of the field during the inaugural event had never ran an ultra marathon before. One for the first timers.
Surprise, surprise, the biggest challenges in the desert are the heat and the sand. Wadi Rum can reach 35°C and the soft sand sections will punish those quadriceps. The trade-off? Stunning scenery and minimal elevation (just the odd sand dune!)
There’s no two ways about it, this one is savage! With nearly 12,000m of elevation, altitudes of 2,500m, warm days, cold nights, and steep, rocky, technical descents, Mexico is not for the faint hearted. A bucket list event for the brave.
With a total elevation of just over 3,000m spread over lots of short climbs and at an altitude never exceeding 450m, this is an ideal entry-level multi-stage ultra. That said, being Scotland, the weather could be the greatest challenge!
Our most accessible event yet. The 50km “Sunday only” stage of Ultra X 125 Scotland has a few short climbs but is on mostly runnable terrain with rewarding views over Loch Ness. A perfect introduction to ultra distance trail running.
Taking place on flat countryside and rainforest trails, Sri Lanka’s greatest challenges are the high temperatures and near-total humidity. If you can take the heat but aren’t sure about the hills, then the jungle trails of Sri Lanka are for you.
With alpine climbs, both technical and runnable terrain, the Slovenian summer, and the world’s best ultra runners for competition, the World Champs is a tough week out for all abilities – if you can qualify!
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