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Five Ultras You Could Race This Year

Cha Cha Cha Ultra Photo credit: Melody Sky Photography

Five Ultras You Could Race This Year

18-Jul-20

Last updated: 06-Aug-20

By Sarah Cooke

If you had race plans this year, chances are they had to change. Most countries have seen a period without any races being held – some longer than others. Travelling to race outside your home country has been even more problematic.

Different countries are now coming out of lockdown at different rates. Some are already seeing events go ahead with appropriate modifications, others are still in the grip of the first wave of COVID-19 or seeing signs of a second wave. Many of you may be unsure about making plans whilst uncertainty remains.

I had a chat with some race organisers, and these are five events that intend to go ahead this year and are open for entries. Of course, if there is another peak of the virus, then arrangements could change, but it looks hopeful for these events and additional measures are being taken to minimise risks.

If you have underlying health issues, then please follow your doctor’s advice on what is appropriate for you. If you’re ready to race again, then have a look at the events below. We know you’ll all ensure you follow the guidelines and travel restrictions applicable to the countries in which you live and run.

Cha Cha Cha Ultra

The Cha Cha Cha Ultra has been set up by Emma Bodkin and Lottie Pridham, founders of Mountain Beach Fitness Retreats who believe they are the first women to set up an ultra trail race.

The Cha Cha Cha Ultra (66km) and its little sister the Cha Cha (21km) aim to celebrate freedom of movement as the world emerges from coronavirus restrictions. They will do this by holding races that traverse the border between Switzerland and France on stunning Alpine trails.

Emma and Lottie also want to encourage greater female participation in ultra running. They are passionate about pushing their limits and sharing the beautiful mountain trails on their doorstep with others.

Switzerland was declared the most COVID safe country by the WHO. Emma and Lottie will be implementing plenty of safety measures to protect their runners and are optimistic that the race will go ahead on 19th September.

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Photo credit: Stour Valley Path

Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run

Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run and the 50km event are set to take place on 15th August and will be among the first UK ultras to go ahead since lockdown. The beautiful Stour Valley Path takes runners from Newmarket in Suffolk to Cattawade in Essex and is one of the longest point to point races in East Anglia.

Measures being taken by the SVP team to manage coronavirus transmission risks include having all aid stations outdoors, face masks and gloves for volunteers, advising spectators not to support along the route, a rolling start and a video recorded race briefing. A full list of all safety measures can be found here.

RunUltra’s Kate Allen, an SVP veteran, had this to say about the event:

"First ultras are always special, and SVP is no exception. But it stands as a great race in its own right. It's a lovely course almost entirely on beautiful trails through undulating countryside. The RD and volunteers are friendly and professional and they have the best checkpoints I've ever seen in an ultra."

High praise indeed.

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Photo credit: Ben Becker

Run Mate Lac Leman 

Looking for something different? Run Mate Lac Leman could be the means to racing with your friends in a socially distant way.

The course is 213km around Lake Geneva. It has been divided into 29 legs, and on 26-27th September, teams of between two and nine people will compete in a relay. The legs are between 3 and 13km and teams can decide how to structure their event. This allows the challenge to be adapted to each person’s ability and level of experience.

Teams of 2-5 people will be in the ‘ultra’ category, completing an average of anywhere from 43km (teams of five) to over 100km (teams of two) per member.

In a statement on 1st July, the Run Mate team confirmed that the event would go ahead following relaxation of border restrictions between France and Switzerland. They will be adhering to all safety guidelines recommended by the Swiss Federal Council and are confident that aspects of the race such as varied start times and the relay format are advantageous in reducing the risks of virus transmission.

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Photo credit: Ultra Running Ltd

The Thames Challenge

The Thames Challenge has recently been postponed to 1st-4th October to increase the likelihood of it going ahead. This 184-mile event starts at the source of the River Thames in the Cotswolds and finishes at the river’s mouth in Greenwich.

The race is divided into four stages. If you don’t fancy 184 miles, then each stage can be entered as a race in its own right. Choose from the following:

  • The Cotswold Ultra (44.2 miles)
  • The Oxford Ultra (50.5 miles)
  • The Windsor Ultra (48.3 miles)
  • The Richmond Ultra (31.9 miles)

Camping facilities are provided between stages. This includes a hot meal and showering facilities. The race will be managed in accordance with the applicable COVID safety guidelines. These are likely to relax between now and October if infection rates in the UK continue to fall.

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Photo credit: Racing The Planet

Atacama Crossing

Racing The Planet have three races scheduled to go ahead this year. As travel restrictions in some countries have meant that a number of entrants have deferred to 2021, they have places available for 2020.

Racing the Planet’s current policy is not to take payment for new entries until one month before the race date. This may offer some peace of mind for those concerned about cancellations if there is a further peak of the virus.

The first race on the Racing The Planet calendar is Atacama Crossing in Chile on 27th September. This is a 250km/155-mile desert race over 7 days/6 stages. The course includes sand dunes, river crossings, canyons, the foothills of the Andes and the Atacama Desert’s infamous salt flats.

The stages vary in length from 6 to 47.5 miles. There is no doubt that this is a challenging event, but with checkpoints approximately every 10km, entrants will be well supported. This could be for you if you fancy a post-lockdown desert adventure.

I hope these five events have whet your appetite for pinning on a race number again. If you do take part in any events, then please don’t forget to submit a review on our website. Good luck!

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