What is an ultra-marathon?

An ultra-marathon is any race longer than a marathon, which is 42.195 km, or 26.2 miles. Ultra marathons range from 50km runs to 12 or 24 hour races, to six-day races, runs across continents up to the Sri Chinmoy 3100 mile race held in New York.

I always enjoyed running - I competed in national athletics leagues as a youngster and ran half-marathons at university. After that my participation lapsed somewhat, until a series of events led me to accidentally run a marathon.

In April 2008, I read about a man called Dave Heeley (‘Blind Dave’ to his friends) who was running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. I decided to go down to the Sydney leg to run part of the way with him. Much to my surprise, I managed to run the entire marathon with him. I was exhausted, but my love of running was re-born.

By 2009 I had the Canberra Marathon’s 50km race under my belt. Finishing my first Ultra-Marathon was an extraordinary feeling and I wanted more. The following year I trained my heart out to prepare for the 100 km Oxfam Trailwalker team event in Sydney. Later that year, I won the Narrabeen All-Nighter 12 hour race with a course record of 103.8 km.

In 2010 I ran 4 consecutive marathons into the 24 hr Track Australian Championships at the University of Queensland, notching up 5th place overall (3rd female). I ran 100 miles in less than 22 hours.

In 2014 I entered the world of multi-day races, completing the Big Red Run - a 6-day race covering 250km in the Simpson Desert. The following year I took part in the ANZAC Ultra, a six-day race around the ACT. I ran for six days but failed to reach the 450km finish line and went home with no medal and sore feet.

Long-distance running gives me immense joy and a sense of freedom. I am able to meet wonderful people and enjoy the camaraderie of the ultra-running family. Here’s to many more races to come.

For more information about ultra-marathons, visit the Australian Ultra Runners Association (AURA).

Top: The Coburg 6-hour race Middle: Finishing the Comrades Marathon (89km) Bottom: Running my “accidental” first marathon with Dave Heeley. I’m in the white top wearing #20. Left: Competing in the 250km “Big Red Run” in the Simpson Desert.