On The Wishlist- Ultra Races Archives

On the Wishlist- The GR20

What is it?

gr20I recently spent the day in Corsica during my cruise and, having previously known very little about this small Mediterranean island, was pleasantly surprised to discover how mountainous it is.

What I didn’t know until I got home, however, was the fact that Corsica boasts the toughest trek in Europe in the form of the GR20…

The GR routes (standing for Grande Randonnee in French or Gran Recorrido in Spanish) are a network of long distance trails which have been created across Europe. Some of them cross several different countries and they are usually characterised by way markings consisting of a red and white stripe.

The GR20 traverses the island of Corsica north to south, connecting Calenzana and Conca, with Vizzavona marking the halfway point.

How Far is it?

The GR20 is approximately 111 miles (180 kilometres) long and most people take around 15 days to walk it. That’s 15 days of tough, exposed, relentless walking!

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On The Wishlist (Maybe!)- Spartathlon

spartathlonWhat is it?

Now I really don’t want to get obsessed with this race… I really mustn’t. As a slow plodder it doesn’t really have any business being on the Wish List at all… but, oh, there’s something about this challenge, the toughness and the history of it that intrigues me…

Spartathlon is a historic ultra race which takes place in Greece every September. It retraces the journey of the Athenian Pheidippedes, who could well have been the first ever ultra runner. In 490 BC, on the eve of the Battle of Marathon, he ran from Athens to Sparta to seek aid from the legendary Spartan warriors against the invading Persian army.

Pheidippedes apparently arrived in Sparta the day after he left Athens, after meeting the god Pan on Mount Parthenio (the first ever case of ultra-induced hallucination?). At first thought to be a myth, in 1982 five British Royal Air Force officers who were keen ultra runners and who were intrigued by this story decided to see if such a journey between Athens and Sparta was possible in just two days.

Well, they made it and found it was not only possible but would make a cracking race so that many others could experience the torture too… and so Spartathlon was born!

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On The Wishlist- the Grand to Grand Ultra

What is it?

Grand CanyonThe Grand to Grand Ultra is the first- and, so far, only- self-supported footrace in North America. The race takes place in September each year. It starts from the jaw droppingly scenic North rim of the Grand Canyon and finishes on the Grand Staircase- hence ‘Grand to Grand’.

Just like the MdS you have to carry everything you need for the week except a tent on your back- food, equipment etc. You will also need to supply a medical certificate and ECG before the race.

How Far is it?

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