The results of a study have been released today, exploring the trends in ultra running over the last 23 years.
RunRepeat has analyzed 5,010,730 results from 15,451 ultra running events…
● Female ultra runners are faster than male ultra runners at distances over 195 miles. The average female pace is 17:19 min/mile, which is 0.6% faster than the average male pace of 17:25 min/mile.
● Participation has increased by 1676% in the last 23 years from 34,401 to 611,098 yearly participations and 345% in the last 10 years from 137,234 to 611,098. There have never been more ultra runners.
● More ultra runners are competing in multiple events per year. In 1996, only 14% of runners participated in multiple races a year, now 41% of participants run more than one event per year. There is also a significant increase in the % of people who run 2 races a year, 17.2% (from 7.7% to 24.9%) and 3 races, 6.7% (from 2.8% to 9.5%).
● Women are as fast as men in long-distance ultras. The longer the distance the shorter the gender pace gap. In 5Ks men run 17.9% faster than women but on a 100-miler the difference is just 0.25%.
● There have never been more women in ultrarunning. 23% of participants are female, compared to just 14% 23 years ago.
● Ultra runners have never been slower across distance, gender and age group. The average pace in 1996 was 11:35 min/mile, currently, it is 13:16 min/mile. The average runner has added 1:41 min/mile to their average pace, which is a slowdown of 15% since 1996. We don’t believe that individual runners have become slower, but that these distances are attracting less prepared runners now because the sport is more mainstream.
● Runners improve their pace in their first 20 races, and then their pace stabilizes. From their first to their second race runners improve by 0:17 min/mile (2%) on average. But by their 20th they improve by 1:45 min/mile (12.3%).
● The fastest ultra running nations are South Africa (average pace 10:36 min/mile), Sweden (11:56 min/mile), and Germany (12:01 min/mile).
● A record amount of people travel abroad for ultra running events. 10.3% of people travel abroad to run an ultra, for 5Ks this percentage is just 0.2%.
● Runners in the longer distances have a better pace than the runners in the shorter distances for each age group.
● All age groups have a similar pace, around 14:40 min/mile. Which is unusual compared to the past and to other distances.
● The average age of ultra runners has decreased by 1 year in the last 10 years. It has changed from 43.3 years to 42.3 years.
You can read the full report here: https://runrepeat.com/state-of-ultra-running