Language can be a bit confusing in the running world at times.
For those interested in off-road running and beyond-marathon distances there are a few terms tossed around that can cause a bit of head scratching at first. The often inter-mingled terms are trail running, ultramarathon, and ultrarunning.
What do each of these terms mean and are they the same?
Trail running can simply be broken down to running on a surface other than concrete or asphalt. This could include grass, rock, sand, or dirt and could be located anywhere from a national park in the Rockies to alongside your local highway.
Key component: No(minimal) concrete or asphalt.
Trail running events can be of any distance such as one mile, five km, 100 mile +, or multi-day.
The ultramarathon is a running event that covers a distance greater than a marathon and can occur on any and all surfaces.
Key ingredient: Longer than a marathon (26.2 miles).
Ultramarathon events could include various running flavors such as 50km trail, 50km road, 24 HR, or multi-day.
See ultramarathon above.
An ultrarunning and ultramarathon event are the same. At least I haven’t been able to determine a difference.
How Do They Mingle?
As you can see these terms have a related yet sometimes unique relationship.
- Trail running event (>26.2 miles) = Ultramarathon
- Trail running event (<26.2 miles) ≠ Ultramarathon
- Ultramarathon (road/trail) = Ultrarunning (road/trail)
Hopefully this helps clarify a few of the pillar words of these growing yet fairly intimate endurance sports.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com