Leg races have existed for many years, but during the last years such races have become increasingly popular. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to be a top trained athlete to be able to perform it.
Marathon over 5 days
There are a number of leg races of the extreme type, where you perform an ultra run every day over several days, or even weeks. To do this, you need a very strong training basis, if you shall be able to enjoy it, and if you shall be able to complete it. However, it also exists leg races that are family friendly, where everybody, regardless of level and training basis, can participate. Such an event has been arranged during the last 25 years on the Danish island Bornholm, which is also a popular holiday destination.
The concept of this arrangement is to run the marathon distance, distributed on 5 legs over 5 days. On the first and last day of the race, there will be 10 km street races (at different places). On day two there is a leg over 5,8 km on one of Denmark’s best beaches. Day three consists of a race in the forest over 7,8 km, in a varied and hilly terrain. Day four is what is considered to be the “king’s leg”. This is a 8,6 km hilly race, on a combination of asphalt and forest track surface, with a steep and tough 500 meter finish. The finish of this leg is almost comparable to the finish of the bicyclists’ Tour de France, with a big amount of enthusiastic spectators and a great atmosphere.
Children and young people up to 18 years will run 3 legs over 3 days, with a total distance of either 10 km or a half marathon.
This leg race gathers around 2000 participants every year, and is an excellent example of a family friendly race. It is a great challenge for the low and medium level runners, and still it is challenging enough even for the ambitious and well trained runner.
A lot to think about
It may sound hard and heavy to run for 5 successive days. But already during the first leg, you will get into a “bubble”, where you get mentally prepared for racing the next 4 days. In such a race most will experience that they will run along with the same people every day during the whole race, which can be a positive social happening in itself.
There are a number of strategies to choose between for such a race. Some would like to save some forces until they come to the most demanding legs, and start the first leg quite slow. Others will run even the first leg as fast as they can, as if it should be just a single race, which is ok if you have a very good training basis. If your basis is not that good, it would be my advice to hold back, especially on the first leg, to see how your body responds.
Most people with some training basis will be able to complete the marathon distance over 5 days. By doing such a race, you will also get some insight into the life of a top athlete. You will need to think about correct nutrition and recovery. It is important to eat something as soon as possible after reaching the finish line every day, and to eat a bigger meal within two hours after this. It is also important to drink sufficiently between the legs. How much you should drink is of course depending on how hot it is. It is a good idea to “run down” or “walk down” after each race, and to do some light stretching, in particular of the legs. A certain degree of soreness will however occur for most people. The soreness will go away, or at least be reduced, during warming up for the next race, and will normally not be a problem for the running.
The social aspect
The social aspect is extremely important for such arrangements,, since it is one of the key motivators for people to attend them. Have a look at the race calendar in the area where you would like to go, and see if you can find an interesting leg race. It is less scary than you mabe think it is, and even more fun!
Author: Gjermund Sørstad