Everyone has their personal stories about how they had that beautiful experience that made them realize how much they love running…
When you ask a trail runner what that beautiful experience was they will probably tell you some crazy story that involves wildlife, rocky cliffs, thick mud, river crossings, and maybe even a 4000-foot climb, all in one morning… the best part is that the trail runner will tell you this story with the biggest smile on their face.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have mountains for trail running. Trail running can be done everywhere. It is considered a “trial run” when you are not on surfaced roads.
Ultra Trail Running events cover distances that are longer than the 42.195k or 26.2 miles (marathon distance). So, anything longer than the traditional marathon is an ultra.
Research shows that just 14 years ago there were only about 60 Ultra Trail Races in the world… now there are over 10 000!
We’ve narrowed down a list containing 20 of the most INSANE Ultra Trail Running Races in the World, all happening in 2022.
P.S. Trail running is highly addictive. Once you’ve been bitten by the bug, expect your life to change forever!
20 Ultra Trail Running Races Happening Around The World in 2022
- Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colorado
- Promise Land in Virginia
- Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji in Japan
- Vibram Ultra Trail in Hong Kong
- Dragons Back Race in Wales, United Kingdom
- Jungle Marathon in the Amazon Rainforest
- Transgrancanaria HG in Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain
- Marathon des Sables (MDS) in the Sahara Desert, Morocco
- West Highland Way Race in Scotland
- Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Italy
- Silver State 50/50 in Nevada
- Western States 100 in California
- Spartathlon in Greece
- The Grand Raid in La Reunion Island, Indian Ocean
- Barkley Marathons in Tennessee
- Tor Des Geants in Aosta Valley, Italy
- Ultra Trail Capetown
- Madeira Island Ultra Trail
- Patagonian Expedition Race
- Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), France
Ready to start adding some of these to your bucket list?
I sure am!
Let’s have a deeper look into what each of these races entails…
Hardrock 100 In Silverton, Colorado (15 July)
“Wild & Tough” is what they say…
With a cut-off time of 48 hours, the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultramarathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet.
The run is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range.
This year the run will be in the clockwise direction. The run offers a graduate-level challenge for endurance runs. The course provides extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival, and wilderness navigation skills are important in this event.
Enter the Hardrock 100 here.
Promise Land in Virginia (23 April)
The Promise Land 50K+ is a well-respected ultra trail run in the Jefferson National Forest near Lynchburg, Virginia. In 19 years of the Promise Land 50K, there have never been any changes. So runners know the course and hardly anyone ever gets lost.
The race starts at an elevation of 1,200 feet and then goes up to 4,000 feet, down to 1,100 feet, back up to 3,800 feet, and then down to 1,200 feet. The trail consists of a large variety of surfaces, which keeps the trail exciting and keeps runners fascinated by waterfalls, forests, and green hills!
Enter the promise land ultra here.
Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji in Japan (22 April)
Japan’s Mt. Fuji is an active volcano and commonly called “Fuji-san,” it’s the country’s tallest peak, at 3,776 meters. A pilgrimage site for centuries, it’s considered one of Japan’s sacred mountains.
165.4km’s circulating Mount Fuji, cumulatively gaining about 9,500m of altitude. The ultra race starts and ends at the Yagizaki Park in Fuji-Kawaguchi-ko town in Yamanashi Prefecture. This race aims to communicate the importance of challenging the human spirit through trail running and to provide the opportunity for people to enjoy and discover the natural beauty and culture of the Mt.Fuji region.
The trail connects mountain trails, local footpaths, and forest roads.
The time limit is 46 hours and participants need to submit proof of earning sufficient points by finishing other trial races.
Enter to race around Japans highest peak here.
Vibram Ultra Trail in Hong Kong (29 January)
A challenging but unforgettable 103km’s of running through pristine beaches, ancient forests, reservoirs, and steep hills.
Most of the race follows Hong Kong’s scenic Maclehose Trail whilst achieving an elevation gain of over 5300 meters and ends by descending Mount Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak.
The cut-off time for this race is 30 hours and it is said that to complete this race you’ve got to have that real trail running “passion”.
Enter this scenic ultra trail race for next year here.
Dragons Back Race in Wales, United Kingdom (5th September)
Known as one of the world’s toughest mountain races, the Dragons Back Race is 6 days, 380km’s and has an elevation gain of 17,400m (almost double Everest).
For those of you brave enough to traverse the mountainous spine of Wales, where the terrain is extreme, then this race is for you!
Many runners who have completed this race struggle to find experiences that can rival the Dragons back.
The route is inspired by that of the 1992 race, in which the inaugural Dragons tackled Wales’ uniquely wild, trackless, and remote mountainous terrain.
The organizers reiterate that the race is not a trail running event but a mountain running event.
Ready to tackle the Dragons Back? Enter here.
Jungle Ultra Marathon In The Amazon Rainforest (5th June)
This race was set up in response to so many ultra trail runners wanting a new challenge in an extreme environment.
Jungle Ultra Marathon is an extreme foot race that takes place in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, in the protected Tapajos National Forest.
This race is said to test your physical strength but more importantly your mental strength.
Known as the world’s TOUGHEST ENDURANCE race, taking place in a very remote and dangerous environment with many swamps and river crossings.
Competitors need to consider that they will be exposed to snakes, wild animals, poisonous plants, and extreme humidity.
There are two distances runners can choose from: A 4 stage 127km race and a 6 stage 254km race.
Enter this insane trail running event here.
Transgrancanaria HG in Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain (4th March)
The Transgrancanaria HG is a 123 kilometer heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain.
This race is only recommended for very experienced adventurers, with an elevation gain of 6,625m and a cut-off time of 30 hours.
In the race, competitors must cross the island, passing through several aid stations where they can replenish their supplies.
The first edition of Transgrancanaria in October 2003 had a total of 65 participants, and over the years has grown to more than 1400 athletes.
Enter this stunning Spanish race here.
Marathon des Sables (MDS) in the Sahara Desert, Morocco (25 March)
In 1984 Patrick BAUER alone in the Sahara at 28 years of age decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come across a watering-place. Self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg, containing supplies, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days.
It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.
Coach Parry Training Plan for Marathon des Sables: Here
Enter this legendary race here.
West Highland Way Race in Scotland (18 June)
The race tracks along the West Highland Way route to the Nevis Centre in Fort William, finishing within a time limit of 35 hours. The 95-mile race includes 14,760ft of ascent.
The West Highland Way Race is one of the world’s longest established ultra-marathons, first taking place in 1985 and is known to be an incredible ‘classic’ race.
Enter Scotland’s longest-standing Ultra Race here.
Lavaredo Ultra Trail In Italy (23 June)
Starting in Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Dolomites in northern Italy, The Lavaredo Ultra Trail circulates the Dolomites for 120 km with a cut-off time of 30 hours.
What makes this race unique is that it starts at 11 pm. With steep climbs and beautiful Italian mountains, this race is by far one of the most scenic ones in the world.
Enter this unforgettable European race here.
Silver State 50/50 In Nevada (21 May)
The 50/50 offers a wide variety of terrain for all types of runners, with plenty of climbing and descending. The race trail is made up of dirt, rock, pine trees, and stunning views of the Sierra Nevada and the Truckee Meadows.
Offering a choice of a 50-mile or a 50-kilometer race. Runners will climb 6,100 feet and descend 6,100 feet in the 50K and 9,500 feet and descend 9,500 feet in the 50M.
Enter this rugged race here.
Western States 100 in California (25 June)
Welcome to the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race!
While running this race, you will traverse the traditional lands of the Nisenan, Washoe, and other neighboring Indigenous Peoples, the Western States Trail climbs more than 18,000 feet and descends nearly 23,000 feet before runners reach the finish at Placer High School in Auburn.
Runners should expect to experience the majestic high country of Emigrant Pass and the Granite Chief Wilderness, the crucible of the canyons of the California gold country, a crossing of the ice-cold waters of the Middle Fork of the American River, and the historic reddish-brown trails that led many travelers, including gold prospectors, to Auburn.
Enter this historic race here.
P.s Entry into this event should not be taken lightly.
Spartathlon in Greece (30 September)
Spartathlon’s creation belongs to John Foden, a British RAF Wing Commander. As a lover of Greece and student of ancient Greek history, Foden stopped his reading of Herodotus’ narration regarding Pheidippides, puzzled and wondering if a modern man could cover the distance from Athens to Sparta…. Say hello to 250km in 36 hours.
The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long-distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians.
Race in the footsteps of Pheidippides over road, trail, and mountain footpath’s here.
The Grand Raid in La Reunion Island, Indian Ocean (20 October)
42% of this gorgeous island is listed as World Heritage by Unesco. Run 166 km, with 9,600 meters of uphill climbs, departing from Saint-Pierre, and ending at Saint-Denis.
It is said that you have to be a madman/woman to run across Reunion Island, from south to north.
Ready to push yourself to your ultimate limits? Enter here.
The Barkley in Tennessee
The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100-mile races in the world. It has 67,000 feet of climb (and 67,000 feet of descent), more than any other 100-mile race.
Since the race began in 1986, only 15 runners out of about 1000 have finished within the 60-hour cutoff.
Mark Williams from the UK finished first in 1995 in 59:28. In 2001, after several failed attempts, Blake Wood, 42, and David Horton, 50, finished together in 58:21, only to be disqualified for inadvertently leaving the course to follow a parallel route for about 200 yards.
It’s safe to say that this race provides one of the most grueling ultramarathons ever created.
What makes this race even more interesting is that the application process is not your typical race sign-up.
The information that exists says that mailing in an application, which is subject to change each year, and a registration fee of $1.60 is all it takes to enter.
WHEN & HOW is a well-kept secret as there is not a race website.
If you are accepted into the race, you receive a letter of condolences as well as the next registration steps.
Tor Des Geants in Aosta Valley, Italy (11 September)
Here we have the LONGEST trail running race in the world! Trails of the Giants.
330 kilometers at 24,000 meters in 150 hours. The race makes a giant loop around the Aoste Valley. It starts and finishes in Courmayeur and takes runners over 25 passes.
Along the course, the participants can sleep in 7 different locations and eat in 43 dedicated stops. The race is along spectacular paths at the foot of the highest Four-Thousanders in the Alps and through the Gran Paradiso Natural Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park.
Run this unique and inimitable race here.
Ultra-Trail Cape Town, South Africa (25 November)
Traverse the beautiful mountain trails of the Cape Peninsula in this unforgettable race in a world-class destination.
The 100 miler takes participants from the northern mountain range of the Mother City to the more remote southern mountains, taking in additional trails from Silvermine to Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Simonstown, and beyond, covering 8 500m of vertical gain in under 45 hours.
Ready to race through Cape Town on technical terrain? Enter here.
Madeira Island Ultra Trail (23 April)
There is a place, 900km from mainland Portugal and 600km from the coast of Morocco…. Madeira.
Madeira Island Ultra Trail (115km) provides an exciting challenge, across the island, from sea to sea, in the Northwest-Southeast direction, starting in Porto Moniz, at sea level, with passages by the highest points of the island, then again to sea level, in Machico.
Enter this life-changing ultra trail event here.
Patagonian Expedition Race (November)
This one is for the runners who find doing just a “normal” Ultra Trail boring…
The Patagonia Expedition is completed in mixed teams of four members that must remain together throughout its duration, covering distances greater than 500 km while facing sections of mountaineering, trekking, trail running, mountain biking, and kayaking.
The Patagonian Expedition Race offers every type of terrain a hardcore trekker could ever want: glaciers, forest, rivers & swampland.
Teams won’t know the route until 24 hours prior to the start.
Race amongst granite giants and glaciers: Enter if you dare…
Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), France (22 August)
We’ve saved the most well-known Ultra Trail event for last. The UTMB.
A mythical race… A unique experience…
The UTMB is known as the most incredible trail-running event in the world!
UTMB starts in Chamonix and it’s important to know that getting a place to participate is not easy – you need to first earn qualifying points and then enter a ballot.
Participants race around Mont Blanc for 170km’s passing through Italy and Switzerland, where they have to push their mental and physical limits to make it to the finish line.
Enter one of the most famous races in the world here.
… and now, after this fantastic journey around the world… it’s time to book the races and start your training.