As if marathons were not long enough, some runners crave a challenge even more monumental, more painful, more satisfying than trekking the 26 miles to a well-earned finish. Instead, the newest breed of runners, referred to as ultra runners, has taken the concept of distance running to an all new level. And, while numerous events exist around the world that eclipse the 100 mile mark, only one can truly claim that it spans an entire country.
Britain’s Coast to Coast Ultra Marathon, which resides in the country’s northern section and begins on the Irish Sea Coast and concludes near the North Sea in Northumberland, entices runners to cross the 170-plus mile course over a six day period. While each day concludes with a relaxing camp, a good rejuvenating meal, and a sound night’s sleep, participants can bet that the competition is fierce and the terrain is as challenging and awe-inspiring as can be.
Navigating the largely untouched, untrodden landscape near the Scottish border, Coast to Coast takes runners through a piece of England’s most storied and historically significant countryside. While pushing through everything from gravel roads and rocked trails to wet marshes and muddy bogs, those running will be rewarded by sights such as King Edward I’s place of death, Carlisle Castle, and endless ruins and remnants of the Roman occupation, the farthest westward point of the Roman Empire.
Unlike traditional running, competitors must bring with them all essential equipment, except for tents, and they must navigate for themselves from check point to check point. Although this is an individual endeavor, the camaraderie established with other participants will motivate and inspire, for merely finishing a stage is accomplishment enough. With all of the mental, physical, and emotional struggles the runners will face, relying on each other for strength may not only be essential for the race itself, but it stands also to change the lives of those involved.
Thus, if you can train for it and desperately want the ultimate experience, set a course for northern Britain.