The Best Ultra Mara­thons 2020 in Asia: Asi­an Ultra Races

Writ­ten By Sam Heward

Sam is one of the Ultra X Co-Founders. If he’s not actu­ally out run­ning, chances are he’s busy writ­ing about it (or plot­ting Ultra X strategy!)

18 Janu­ary 2020

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Read­ing Time: 6 minutes

Ultra mara­thons are any events longer in dis­tance than a mara­thon (42.2km). How­ever, as there is no upper lim­it, the range in event can vary sig­ni­fic­antly!

Whilst there are now some insanely chal­len­ging races held across the globe, there are also many much more access­ible events also classed as ultra mara­thons. Ultra X here are look­ing at all events under the ultra mara­thon cat­egory: single stage, multi stage, 100 mile and more, to con­sider which are the best ultra mara­thons in the world in 2020 and which events need to be on every run­ners ulti­mate buck­et list.

Ultra X Sri Lanka

How could this list be com­plete without an Ultra X event on it! The inaug­ur­al Ultra X Sri Lanka took place in 2019 and was a huge suc­cess. This five day multi stage ultra mara­thon is the only event of its type in a coun­try nick­named ‘The Pearl of the Indi­an Ocean’ and it takes com­pet­it­ors through tea plant­a­tions, 10,000 year old rain­forests and down rush­ing rivers.

Dur­ing this week com­pet­it­ors will get to exper­i­ence in full the place, the people and the beauty of this icon­ic coun­try, steeped in rich his­tory and col­our.

Where: Sri Lanka
When: 23–27 March 2020
Dis­tance: 250km (5 days)
Elev­a­tion Gain: 3,200m
Ter­rain: Trail
Dif­fi­culty Level: Inter­me­di­ate
Entry Price: £1,200

Ultra X Sri Lanka Female Runner

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji

The Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and is a hit with well-known ultra-run­ners. Start­ing out at Ohike Kouen, the race cov­ers the entire cir­cum­fer­ence of Mt. Fuji through undu­lat­ing moun­tain trails, loc­al foot­paths and forest roads. In order to com­plete the race, run­ners head counter-clock­wise into Kawaguchiko, Fujikawaguchiko-cho, and then into Yaman­ashi Pre­fec­ture.

The race can accom­mod­ate up to 1,400 run­ners, but it’s a ser­i­ous task. In 2015, when over 1,300 star­ted, only 564 fin­ished. This is not a race for first timers! Hav­ing said that, the 360-degree view of world her­it­age site, Mt. Fuji, avail­able from the trail is enough to tempt any­one to enter.

Where: Japan When: 24–25 April 2020 Dis­tance: 165 km Elev­a­tion Gain: 7,500m Ter­rain: Moun­tains Dif­fi­culty Level: Hard Entry Price: £250

Where: Japan
When: 24–25 April 2020
Dis­tance: 165km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 7,500m
Ter­rain: Moun­tains
Dif­fi­culty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £250

Ultra Trail Mount Fuji Ultra Marathon

Everest Trail Race

Set against one of the most icon­ic and awe-inspir­ing back­drops on the plan­et, the Everest Trail Race ranks as one of the most unique multi stage ultras in the world. The ETR is a par­tially sup­por­ted multi stage ultra mara­thon, with a change in alti­tude of more than 28,000m!

Run­ners carry their cloth­ing and sleep­ing bag over the course, whilst the organ­isa­tion sup­ports them with food, accom­mod­a­tion and logist­ic­al sup­port through­out the race. Entry doesn’t come cheap at £2,750 (without flights), but for breath­tak­ing views of not only one, but sev­er­al, of the world’s tallest moun­tains it might be con­sidered a snip to some…

Where: Nepal
When: 11–23 Novem­ber 2020
Dis­tance: 160km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 28,000m
Ter­rain: Moun­tains
Dif­fi­culty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £2,750

Everest Trail Race

Gobi March

The 7-day footrace cov­ers 250km across the world’s largest and most dan­ger­ous desert. Com­pet­it­ors will weave their way across wide Mon­go­li­an steppes, sand dunes and great rock val­leys as they cross the var­ied course. The race makes its way across the bat­tle­field of Genghis Khan towards the UNESCO World Her­it­age Centre of the Ork­hon Val­ley and fur­ther to the ancient city of Karakor­um, and, at times, com­pet­it­ors will sleep in tra­di­tion­al Mon­go­li­an Gers.

If that’s not enough to get your heart pump­ing, run­ners must deal with extreme tem­per­at­ure fluc­tu­ations, brav­ing the heat of the desert as well as extreme cold, wind, and even snow — all on the same route!

Where: Mon­go­lia
When: 21–28 June 2020
Dis­tance: 250km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 4,461m
Ter­rain: Desert
Dif­fi­culty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £2,920

Comrades Marathon South Africa ultra marathon

Hong Kong

There are just too many great ultra mara­thon races in Hong Kong to pick one. If you are read­ing this and haven’t already signed up it will most likely be too late for our favour­ites in 2020, which tend to be grouped around the begin­ning of the year when the cli­mate is ideal for hit­ting the trails. How­ever, they are worth track­ing online or con­sid­er­ing for race diar­ies in 2021 and bey­ond.

The Vibram Hong Kong 100, per­haps the most com­pet­it­ive of the bunch, kicks off the Ultra Trail World Tour, tak­ing run­ners over white sandy beaches and through bam­boo thick­ets before build­ing in elev­a­tion along the steep ridges of Ma On Shan, where paragliders can be seen fly­ing over the grassy Ngong Ping plat­eau in the dis­tance.

9 Dragons fol­lows on, only two weeks later, a trans­lit­er­a­tion of the Chinese gau lung “Nine Dragons”. Kowloon is named for the eight moun­tains which rear up behind the plat­eau, and the win­ner of the 50/50 (two of the three ultra mara­thon dis­tance events over the week­end) is crowned the ninth Dragon. For those who are really look­ing to pun­ish them­selves the Hong Kong Four Trail’s is a must!

The HK4TUC takes place over Lun­ar New Year. Run­ners cov­er all four major trails in Hong Kong — the MacLe­hose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lan­tau trails. There are no check­points, nor sup­port on the trails, but they are allowed help when trav­el­ling between the trails. If they reach the end in under 60 hours, they are deemed a “fin­ish­er”, and if they fin­ish in under 72, they are a “sur­viv­or”.

Hong Kong Trail

Gao­l­i­gong by UTMB

Gao­l­i­gong by UTMB is the ‘daugh­ter race’ of the ‘Olympics of trail run­ning’ Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, (UTMB), itself a glob­al fest­iv­al of the sport held in the Alps around Chamonix in France. The event is based around one of most fam­ous Taoist moun­tains in China in the Sichuan province and the gate­way to Tibet.

Fin­ish­ing the 100-mile dis­tance gives run­ners a guar­an­teed entry to the coveted UTMB Mont Blanc — a dream for most trail run­ners. So, if that is your goal, why not com­bine it with a trip to China’s most pop­u­lar tour­ist des­tin­a­tion?

Where: China
When: 21 March 2020
Dis­tance: 165km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 9,500m
Ter­rain: Moun­tains
Dif­fi­culty Level: Hard
Entry Price: £220

Gaoligong by UTMB

La Ultra — The High

The High is anoth­er multi stage ultra mara­thon which takes place on the Great Him­alay­an range of India and this one might be the most bru­tal out there! Most of the run is done with 50% less oxy­gen than at sea level, tem­per­at­ures can vary from from -12 to 40°C and at its highest point the race will take com­pet­it­ors through Khardung La, the world’s highest motor­able pass at 5,359m!

Only around half of those who start the race will fin­ish each year. This one is cer­tainly not for the faint hearted. The race is non-stop with cat­egor­ies of 111km, 222km and 333km and for 2020 there is set to be a 555km!

Where: India
When: 17 August 2020
Dis­tance: 555km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 26,670m
Ter­rain: Moun­tains
Dif­fi­culty Level: Bru­tal
Entry Price: £900

Khardung La, La Ultra - The High

Spe­cial Men­tion: Ultra-Trail Aus­tralia (UTA)

In the Blue Moun­tains Nation­al Park in New South Wales this 100km course is an abso­lute belter. In a coun­try that boasts some of the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar scenery and wild­life, the Blue Moun­tains Nation­al Park is the most beau­ti­ful region of the lot. The World Her­it­age Area makes for a stun­ning ultra mara­thon, steeped in rich abori­gin­al his­tory.

At this stage it is uncer­tain wheth­er the 2020 edi­tion will go ahead giv­en a sig­ni­fic­ant part of the 2020 Ultra Trail Aus­tralia 100km course has been dir­ectly affected by fires. The thoughts of every­one Ultra X are with those who have been impacted by bush­fires across the coun­try and we hope that Aus­tralia and Ultra Trail Aus­tralia are able to fully bounce back. If the event doesn’t hap­pen in 2020, it is still a true buck­et lister for any year.

Where: Aus­tralia
When: 14–17 May 2020
Dis­tance: 100km
Elev­a­tion Gain: 4,400m
Ter­rain: Trail
Dif­fi­culty Level: Inter­me­di­ate
Entry Price: £222

Best Ultra Marathons in Europe - spartathlon

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