So what is ultramarathon stage racing?
Ultramarathon stage races are multi-day running events conducted in a series of stages. They usually follow a similar format and are typically 150-170 miles (250-275 km) in total length. More often than not they are conducted in remote locations. The race is usually broken up into six stages over seven days. Stage lengths vary but one can count on a “long day” of about 50 miles (80 km) in length. Overall time is the summation of individual stage times. Typically the entire field starts each stage together.
Courses are usually unknown to the competitors prior to the start but typically marked for most of the way. A Road Book is issued to each competitor to describe each section and provide critical information such as compass bearings, distances between check points and terrain features.
Stage races can be of three different varieties. The first is the self-supported type where each racer carries all equipment and food to complete the entire event. Water is provided by the race organizers at pre-determined locations (check points) along the course. A tent at the end of each day is also provided and usually inhabited by anywhere from four to eight individuals. The second is the semi self-supported. These races usually have the competitor carry a small amount of equipment and provisions to get them through the day. Other equipment (such as sleeping bags, tents, clothing, etc.) is transported by the race organizers to the next camp. There are also completely supported stage races with full service aid stations and deluxe accommodations at the end of each day!
A variant of stage racing is the multi-day event. These races have no predetermined stage length or stopping points along the way. It is up to the competitor to decide where and when to stop and for how long. The clock is always ticking during these races and stops only when the finish line is crossed.