This April, Fiji will play host to its first ever ultra marathon. And, no ordinary ultra. This will be one of the toughest races of its kind in the world.
What’s an ultra marathon? It’s a fair question, as you really need to be pretty special (crazy?!) to run one. Strictly, an ultra marathon is any footrace where the course distance is greater than that of a standard marathon’s 42.2km. Ultra races typically begin at 50km, but there is no upper limit.
Each ultra marathon is a unique beast. One of the toughest and most famous is the Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 250km, expedition stage race, held in the Moroccan Sahara. Over 1,000 people compete each year, with places booked out up to two years in advance. That’s two years to figure out how you run in temperatures that can push up towards 50C!
The Comrades in South Africa covers 90km and attracts around 18,000 runners from 60 countries. If 90km sounds easy compared to the Marathon des Sables, you should know that you have only 12 hours to complete it!
Fiji’s Lost Island Ultra is sponsored by Vodafone and is being supported by Tourism Fiji. The race is the brainchild of Wes Crutcher, founder of the appropriately named Get Lost Events, and will be his fifth multi-stage race design. And, it’s quite the race he’s designed! The challenging course will take competitors from Viti Levu’s Suncoast to the Coral Coast, traversing the island’s rugged interior, over five stages. The route measures over 200km, and follows single-track paths, old village routes, horse tracks, and rivers, with as little distance as possible on gravel roads.
Runners will discover that in Fiji you’re either going uphill or downhill, with little flat ground to find your rhythm. On top of that they’ll encounter numerous river crossings, dense vegetation, heat and high humidity.
This year’s event is limited to 50 experienced ultra marathon runners, with the fact that the race is an unknown quantity creating a buzz in ultra circles. Directing the race will be endurance athlete and multiple Guinness World Record Holder, Mimi Anderson. One UK newspaper described her as “making double Olympic gold medallist and world champion Mo Farah look like a part-timer”. A 55-year old grandmother, she’d be taking part, but for a recent injury.
Mimi is one of many remarkable people involved. We can’t wait to meet them, and endure Fiji’s Lost Island Ultra side-by-side… although our side is very much the organising side!
The Vodafone Lost Island Ultra will take place from 3-8 April 2018. If you enjoy the outdoors, but you’d consider an ultra marathon a little extreme, then check out our schedule of hikes for 2018, including a 23km adventure run.