Training, equipment, races around the world

How to prepare for a 100 km race, where to run a hundred in Russia and around the world, and what motivates ultramarathon runners, we tell in this article.

What is the Ultramarathon?

The 100 km distance is the only ultramarathon distance where the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) records world records. In Russia, the 100 km ultramarathon is registered in the All-Russian Unified Sports Register. A person strives for round numbers, and therefore it is not surprising that it was 100 km that received official recognition.

Anything longer than a marathon is an ultra-marathon race. In this segment, the competitions take place in two types of races:

  • for a fixed distance
  • for a certain time, where the winner is the one who has traveled the greatest distance.

Amateur ultramarathon starts are organized for any distance. The official competitions of the International Ultramarathon Association are 50 km, 100 km, 50 miles (80.4 km) and 100 miles (160.9 km). Although world records only count for the 100 km race, local federations are free to register them for other distances as well.

Among ultramarathon races, in which athletes run a certain time, not a distance, the IAAF regulates the 6- and 12-hour race, a daily race, as well as a 3-6 day multi-day race.

Who regulates the 100 km competition

As a non-Olympic distance, the 100 km does not attract much attention from regulators. Of course, this distance is among those approved by the IAAF, but it has its own governing body – the International Association of Ultrarunners (English International Association of Ultrarunners, abbreviated as IAU). The Association takes care of all races longer than a marathon.

Thus, the 100 km World Championships began to be held under the auspices of the IAAF only since 2010. Before that, it had been independent for 23 consecutive years. In 2013 the championship was canceled for the first time and since 2016 it has been held in even years.

In Russia, the national 100 km championship has been held annually since 1991. In our country, this type of race is included in the structure of the VFLA. In general, the ultra-marathon movement in Russia has been developing since the 1960s, but the sports authorities did not accept all attempts to hold the USSR championships in the 100 km race due to the fact that at that time there were no international departures.

Already after the first 100 km world championship was held in Belgium in 1987, the Soviet sports committee began to actively think about how our team could get to the world championship.

In 1991, the USSR national team took part in the World Cup in Italy. The men’s team became the ninth, the women – the second. Until the time when Russian athletes were suspended from participation in the international arena, our ultramarathon runners became frequent medalists.

100 km run

What motivates 100K runners

Science has an answer to this question. The study was conducted by Polish scientists, who found that ultrarunners are driven by a different type of motivation than short-distance runners.

We interviewed 1539 Polish volunteers who completed an online questionnaire about their motivation to run. The reasons for the questionnaire were as follows:

  • psychological – the meaning of life, self-esteem;
  • achievements – achievement of a personal goal, competition;
  • social – belonging to a group, recognition;
  • physical – orientation to health, concern for weight.

Participants rated the importance of each motivation on a seven-point scale. The study found that sprinters rated self-esteem, competition, health and weight as more important motivators than ultramarathoners.

A group of ultramarathoners were driven by the motivations of meaning in life and belonging to the group. For them, traveling and running in a group of like-minded people was more valuable than competing with other athletes.

The researchers noticed a trend that the more ultramarathons a runner overcomes, the less he is guided by external factors – competition or recognition. And that makes sense, because ultra is a niche sport, and few people outside of the running community know the names of elite ultrarunners. So they don’t come here for fame.

Another type of motivation may be partly due to age differences in the two groups. Ultra runners tend to be older than traditional distance runners. Young athletes generally seek out competition to test their abilities and their limits, according to the study.

Running standards for 100 km

Running 100 km is included in the All-Russian Unified Sports Register. This means that in this form it is possible to issue a sports category.


  • MSMK – 6:40:00
  • MS – 6:55:00
  • KMS – 7:20:00
  • 1st round – 7:50:00
  • 2nd category – finish the race


  • MSMK – 7:45:00
  • MS – 8:15:00
  • KMS – 9:00:00
  • 1st round – 9:45:00
  • 2nd category – finish the race

Although the official 100 km events are also held indoors, the regulations only take into account the road race.

Useful: Table of running categories and standards

100 km records

The 100 km world records are recorded on the highway and on the stadium track.


  • Men – 6:09:14 (3:42 min/km) Nao Kazami (Japan), 2018
  • Women – 6:33:11 (3:56 min/km) Tomoe Abe (Japan), 2000


  • Men – 6:10:20 (3:42 min/km) Don Ritchie (Great Britain), 1978
  • Women – 7:14:06 (4:20 min/km) Norimi Sakurai (Japan), 2003

Russian records (highway only)

  • Men – 6:18:26 (3:47 min/km) Vasily Larkin (Test Yourself run, St. Petersburg, 2013)
  • Women – 7:10:32 (4:18 min/km) Tatyana Zhirkova (100km World Championship, Netherlands, 2004)

To read: World race records from 50m to 100km

Mass races over 100 km

Now all over the world and in Russia, ultra-distances are flourishing in particular. Registrations for ultramarathons have increased by 345% over the past 25 years. And it is 100 km which is chosen by a greater number of participants. What is starting will be organized in Russia and around the world, we will tell below.

100 km run
by: adidas x Alpinedustria Elbrus Race

In Russia

Where to run 100 km: 13 races in Russia and around the world

In the world

You cannot fail to notice that in Russia, with the exception of the national championship, all 100-kilometer races are held exclusively on rough terrain, there are practically no road starts. In Europe and the United States, where the road network is extensive, you can choose between trail running and road running.

Biel running days is a 100 km ultramarathon that takes place in June in Biel, Switzerland. It is an authoritative start: it is included in the European Ultramarathon Cup. The race route runs along the highway, slabs and other artificial surfaces, and runners may be accompanied by a cyclist.

Lake Saroma Ultramarathon is a road ultramarathon around Lake Saroma on the northeast coast of Hokkaido in Japan. The 100 km world championship has been held on this track twice. It is here that the women’s and men’s world records were set in 2000 and 2018.

The River Shimanto Ultramarathon is another Japanese 100 km ultramarathon. The start is official, approved by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations. In 1998, Japan hosted the 100 km world championships here.

Transylvania 100 is a mountain ultramarathon in Romania, whose route crosses one of the most beautiful and mysterious regions of Eastern Europe. For 100 km, the climb here will be 6444 meters.

More races can be found on the calendar on the International Association of Ultramarathons website.

100 km run
Transylvania 100. Photo: Victor Grigore

Characteristics of the preparation

Many runners, after running a marathon, start thinking about the longer distance, challenging themselves. However, it should be understood that you cannot use a marathon type training plan to prepare for an ultra distance.

For most amateurs, it will take more than 12 hours to cover 100 km, and you have to be prepared for that long on your feet. Here are some points to pay attention to.

1. Time, not speed and miles

Now your workouts should be measured in time, not pace and miles. There is no fixed mileage recommendation, but several long runs should be made, which is 50% of the expected time for 100 km.

2. General physical preparation

You may have only run enough to complete a marathon, but for an ultramarathon, strengthening your legs and upper body will help improve your running technique and balance.

3. Long runs

Like training for a marathon, do a long workout every weekend. At least 50 km at least once, and preferably once 50 km and several times 30 km.

4. Turning down the volume shortly before the race

At the start, you must leave in the best conditions, and for that you need rest. But the duration of the rest depends on the preparation of your body.

Experts usually call the period of the so-called “shrinkage” from 2 to 4 weeks. This means you run your longest run in the weeks leading up to the race, then gradually decrease the volume as the start gets closer.

5. First 100 kilometers

For the first hundred, choose a start that runs on the plain, in a comfortable climate and with good support points. Leave desert and hot ultramarathons, mountain races in wild places to your future – experienced and ready for anything.

6. Running pace

Who, for lack of experience, hasn’t made a mistake with an accelerated pace at the very start of the race? In ultra, the first 30-40 km is always the beginning of the distance, and if at this point you are already too stressed and tired, you were running too fast.

Training for long runs was supposed to teach you how to pick the optimal pace. So run at a pace that suits you. Like the 4 hour mark in a marathon, the 12 hour mark is considered a good time for 100k runners.

Read more: 11 training principles from the ultramarathoner’s guide

100 km run
It is important to test materials and equipment before training. Photo: Alpindustriya


Most GPS devices can only read your run data for 8-10 hours, which is way too short for the average recreational runner. Fortunately, some GPS watches are specially designed for these long runs, although they cost a little more than regular sports watches. With smart battery mode, you can track your activity for up to 120 hours.

For a 100 km race, you will definitely need a small backpack, a drinking system, a headlamp. Train with this outfit 1-2 times a week, even on “short” runs, to eliminate discomfort and chafing.


Are you already planning to run your first 100 kilometers? So get started training with our recommendations for preparing for the ultramarathon. And after many months of preparation, come back to this material and read: How to know that you are ready for an ultramarathon.