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!)
We are now less than one week out from the rumble in the jungle that is Ultra X Sri Lanka by SriLankan Airlines 2022. Having been the first official Ultra X event back in 2019 and then subsequently cancelled twice, we are more than ready for the well overdue second edition of this unique multi-stage race.
This article will let you know what you can expect on the course, give you an insight into some of the competitors taking on the challenge this year and highlight those who we anticipate to be fighting for World Championship places.
Every Ultra X race has something that makes it special.
In Sri Lanka, there are two things: The wildlife and the people. Competitors will have seen more peacocks by day 2 than in the rest of their lives combined, and they can also expect an incredible array of stunning flora and fauna over the course of their 5 days. And if the wildlife on the trail isn’t enough to blow our participants away, the support they can expect from the villagers that the course passes through certainly will be.
There have some changes to the 2019 course due to previous trails being paved over but the terrain is similar – flat and fast. Over the 5 days there is a total elevation of around 700 metres or just under 3 metres per km! Days will vary between 40km and the 63km “long stage” on day 4 which is where the race will be won or lost.
There are 56 competitors from 20 different countries on the start line. Runners age from 22 to 58 and 49% are female which, in a sport generally dominated by men we are delighted to see. Amongst the field of returning Ultra X runners, there are several new racers, including Ultra X pro athlete Mike Wardian in his first Ultra X. You can see the full list here.
We’ve had a chat with some of our runners that you will be able to follow during the event, take a look at what they’ve said:
Longest race so far: 100 miles along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Reason why: I’ve always run, it’s just part of who I am. 8 years ago we took our children out of school for 6 months and toured Europe in a motorhome with them, I started to run most days to have some quiet time and discover where we were to plan the day and I’ve run most days ever since! My reason for Sri Lanka originally was as a 50th birthday present to myself, I’m 50 at the end of November, the rainforest and elephants just really appealed to me. Then before Christmas I discovered that my first best friend from junior school had a brain tumour, 90% has been removed but she is now undergoing treatment to try to get rid of the rest of it. I am now running in Claires name raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity, the race now has even more meaning to me than before.
Sri Lanka Strategy: To enjoy every minute! I’ve loved the 2 Zoom sessions and feel as confident as possible about nutrition and hydration so thank you for this, I placed well in HMDS but didn’t go out with any preconceived ideas, it’s the same for Sri Lanka. I will run each day according to how I feel, I’ll enjoy the constant picnic and take my time at the water stations. I don’t want to miss a sight or sound along the way so I definitely won’t be rushing it 🙂
Longest race so far: Race to the King (53 miles)
Reason why: The race looks incredible and I think it will push me out of my comfort zone. I want to prove to myself I can do this.
Sri Lanka Strategy: Start early and run as much as I can while cooler (but slow and steady)and then walk/jog to the end if have to! I want to finish each day and that means taking it steady and enjoying it!
Longest race so far: Ultra X Sri Lanka 2019
Reason why: Having run Ultra X Sri Lanka 2019 I have discovered a passion for endurance event and wanted to come back and run again.
Sri Lanka Strategy: Pace myself, adjust to the conditions and finish.
Longest race so far: Gobi March 2017
Reason why: I want to pursue this challenge with a cause. Since medical school, I realized the importance of palliative and hospice care in Malaysia. My grandmother had received tremendous support and care in the end-of-life journey before succumbed to Pancreatic cancer. We can never achieve our goal of “LEAVE NO BEHIND- EQUITY IN ACESS TO PALLIATIVE CARE” without the support of every single Malaysians. Providing homecare to terminal-ill patients is undeniably challenging especially in this Covid-19 era.
For this challenge, my ultimate goal is to raise fund to Penang Hospice Society, providing a sustainable fund to further stretch our Palliative/Hospice care service in Penang and ensuring our long-term care of patients. I believe we can do more by highlighting the awareness of hospice and palliative care, reach out to those who need our care the most regardless of their background.
I aim to complete this challenge as to light up the beacon of hospice care! I will be running with full hope in the back of mind, hoping to see one day, every terminally ill patient in Penang will blessed with accompany of hospice care during their end-of-life journey.
Sri Lanka Strategy: Just keep going! Every step counts and may the force be with us!
Who are the favourites?
As well as fighting to be crowned queen or king of the jungle runners will be competing for some of the last available 2022 World Champs places, black and white ribbons and thanks to our event partners, SriLankan airlines – flights to Colombo for a holiday (or a race 😉) in the future!
Marketeer and keen runner Amy is no novice to this ultra game. With a ‘Ring of Fire’ podium under her belt, Amy is one runner to watch across the five days (especially if you’ve been following her Strava!)
Doctor by trait, Priya is no stranger to the Ultra X world having previously completed (and podiumed) at our 100k Spring Trails Series event. Priya recently spoke out about how running helps keep her chronic lung condition, ensuring she does everything she can to stay strong and healthy. This may be her first multi-stage ultra, but we have no doubts that it won’t be the last.
Having completed 7 marathons in 7 days Imo is now attempting to become the youngest female to have run JOGLE in June 2022. 250km in 5 days is just another training week right?
Wildcard – Kirsty Hendey
Former SAS Who Dares Wins contestant fitness coach Kirty Hendy is no stranger to putting herself in the hurtlocker. Whilst she’s no newbie to ultra running, mult-stage racing is a different sport entirely so it will be interesting to see how she performs.
Ultra X Pro Athlete Mike Wardian is quite simply one of the world’s best ultra runners. Name an event and the chances are Mike’s done it. He’s competed all over the globe, raced at the US Olympic Trials, and holds numerous world records. Having podiumed at the Marathon Des Sables and the 100km World Championships in the past you would think this would be his to lose!
Salameh Al Aqrah
Standing in Mike’s way to first place at this event is the multi-stage expert and Ultra X veteran Salameh Al Aqrah who holds the course record for Ultra X Sri Lanka having won in 2019. Last time Mike and Salameh raced was in Eco Trail Allula with Mike pipping it on that occasion. This battle is going to be one to watch.
Rahil Sachak- Patwa
Having finished in third place in Ultra X Jordan 19 can Rahil challenge? He’s a sub 2:30 marathon runner and on a course like Sri Lanka that could prove in handy. Definitely worth watching.
Wildcard – Ben Parker
Co-Founder of The Run Buddy, running coach and IRONMAN World Champs competitor, Ben has some impressive achievements to his name from 5km to Ultra. This is his first multi-stage. Will he take to it as a natural?
How to track the race?
The race begins at 0800 local time on Monday the 21st March. Live tracking will be available here and daily videos and photos will be uploaded to our social media feeds.
Register for 2023 now here!
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David had previously taken on single-stage ultras, but after being inspired by the stories of the Tarahumara, he made a last-minute call to sign up for Ultra X Mexico and the rest is history!
Leon, one half of the infamous Lean Machines was formerly known for his focus on Crossfit style training. That was until he heard about Ultra X! Since being tempted in by our Community and Partnerships manager Hannah, there’s been no looking back.
Having previously completed Ultra X Wales, Ultra X England and Ultra X Scotland, Lewis has decided to take on the mammoth challenge of completing all five of our 250km events this year. No-one has ever attempted this before and we’re so excited to support Lewis’ journey this year, it’s going to be life-changing.