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.
A little over four weeks ago, borders around the world began to shut at an unprecedented rate. It was worrying for us. We had two races, Sri Lanka and Azores 125 right around the corner, and for the first time in Ultra X’s existence, the immediate future wasn’t looking so bright.
The thing that concerned us most was our helpless inability to be able to put on experiences for our customers. Since day one, our aim has always been to create amazing adventures in inspiring locations. We love seeing people from all over the world and from all walks of life congregate at start lines in deserts, rainforests and mountains. And now all this was going to have to pause.
As we have been seeing the world over, we humans are adaptive creatures and when we’re forced to evolve, it turns out we’re pretty good at it. And this was exactly what we were going to have to do as a brand for the next few months. We kept it simple: if we weren’t going to be able to race together, then we were going to have to race alone!
What’s special about our community is that so many of you are almost always training for something. An ultra, 10k, marathon, triathlon, and everything in between. So, when an entire summer’s race calendar is wiped clean thanks to a pandemic it can really take the wind out of us. Without our goal, what do we do with ourselves? Step forward the virtual race idea.
We always try and keep things exciting, so we wanted to avoid the classic 10k, half or full marathon. People tend to know how they would attack these sorts of distances. “How about a third of a marathon?”. “That’s a little odd” “Well, it’s an odd race” “Yeah, well these are odd times…” … And there you had it.
Then it was how to get the word out. Well, we’ve learned this pretty quickly. If we come up with a half decent concept that you guys like, we don’t really have to do much. You lot are amazing at spreading the word. A few Instagram posts later and we had just shy of 600 of you signed up from 40 countries!! And boy, did you all go for it.
It was awesome to sit back and watch your Instagram stories come in (check out some of our favourites below). We had people running in the beautiful outdoors, we had a few run up and down their balcony hundreds of times, some of you circled your gardens and one of you, a Mr James Cooke, covered 14.1km by circling a 15 metre loop in his flat, 940 times! Amazing.
Anyway, once again we are feeling very happy with ourselves, and that’s for no other reason than we are convinced we have the best (and at times craziest) community, out of any early stage endurance brand in the land. We love you. It wouldn’t be a race if we didn’t post the results and so these will be up tomorrow (Monday 13th).
Given the success of this first Virtual Race you can expect more from where that came. Oh, and we’ll be upping the odds. Have a great bank holiday peeps. Results are available here.
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Read the Race Director’s report from the inaugural Ultra X 125 England 2020 in the Peak District and view the images from each day of the race.
Alex Spencer describes how taking part in Ultra X Jordan in 2016 (then the Wadi Rum Ultra) changed his life for the better.
Read the Race Director’s report from Ultra X Mexico 2019 and view video highlights from each day of the race.