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.
It’s nearly here! The inaugural Ultra X Sri Lanka kicks off in a little over two weeks! This will be more than a race, but an experience, an escape and a challenge different from any other. The 250km multistage race across five days will be beginning at 08:00 (GMT +5:30) on Monday 15th April and you can receive daily updates by subscribing below.
Here we take a look at some of the athletes to watch in this year’s race.
Anna-Marie is no stranger to the multi-day scene, having won the Half MDS Fuerteventura and in 2015 finishing 2nd at the Marathon des Sables in Morocco. She’s also got a top ten UTMB finish under her belt and a huge array of big wins on her CV including first woman in various Ultra-Trail World Tour events. Her most recent achievement was an unbelievable 1st place in the inaugural UTMB Oman, where she finished more than 40 minutes ahead of her closest rival. In 2018, she finished 7th on the Ultra-Trail World Tour womens rankings.
Lucja has some serious ultrarunning pedigree. In July 2016, she ran 500 kilometres in five days across the Netherlands to raise money for the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Known for her scrupulous event preparation she cannot be written off for a serious performance in the jungle. Having raced in Oman and Hawaii in the last few months she is well set up for a strong and consistent race and will be difficult to stop.
Salameh Al Aqra
Salameh is the undefeated reigning champion and course record holder at Ultra X Jordan (previously the Wadi Rum Ultra). The former winner of the Marathon des Sables is the undisputed desert king so the only question will be whether he can replicate his form in the Sri Lankan jungle.
From the Gold Coast, Australia, Sam is one of his country’s top ultrarunners. The CLIF Bar athlete’s achievements include winning the 450 kilometre Anzac Ultra and being the first person to cross Papua New Guinea on foot. In 2015, he completed the infamous Badwater Ultra – known by some as the world’s toughest footrace and despite this being his first multi-stage race he has made it clear that he’s going for the win.
Marcus recently ran 30 marathons in 30 days as part of Dubai’s 30*30 fitness challenge despite only one year ago fighting for his life following a horrific cycling crash. An entrepreneur, motivational speaker, extreme athlete and ultra coach, he has been coaching many of the Dubai contingent for this race and will stand on the start line with a wealth of ultra experience and a clear strategy. His motto is “Show No Weakness” and this man does not do things by half measures, he will be pushing all the way until crossing the finish line.
Tom Joly de Lotbiniere
Tom will be the complete unknown in Sri Lanka. This will be his first multi-day ultra. That said, he has some serious endurance credentials including an Ironman PB of 9 hours 16 minutes and the course record at Rat Race’s The Wall ultramarathon in the UK. He’s got a Half Marathon PB of 78 mins and crossed the finish line at Manchester Marathon in 2:52 – this boy is fast! As an ex-Army Officer we expect his approach to be meticulous. Can he challenge the great Salameh and announce himself onto the world stage in Sri Lanka in a similar way to Tom Evans back in 2016?
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