What makes an “amazing run” for Neuschwander? “If something new is always happening then it doesn’t get boring in the race. Perhaps you see brilliant landscapes – you are busy and it flies by”, explains the ultra marathon runner at ISPO.com.
The most beautiful ultra marathons in the world
Neuschwander presents his ambitious goals for the coming years: The most beautiful ultra marathons in the world.
1. Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon: “The most beautiful in the world”
Distance: 56 kilometers
Course: Cape Peninsula, South Africa
Next race: March 31, 2018
Florian Neuschwander: “For me that is the number 1 in South Africa. It used to be the preparatory run for the Comrades Marathon, but then it became its own independent run with loads of participants. It is supposed to be the most beautiful ultra in the world because you directly run along the ocean coast.
And the atmosphere on the course is amazing – instead of stodgy gels you get handed potatoes by the spectators. It's a funny run.”
More info: http://www.twooceansmarathon.org.za
2. Comrades Marathon: “Tour de France for South Africans”
Distance: From Durban to Pietermaritzburg
Course: 90 kilometers
Next race: 4 June, 2017
Florian Neuschwander: “This is the largest ultra marathon in the world from the number of participants: More than 20,000 starters. A huge event.
It starts in Durban and ends in Pittsburgh once and the next year it’s the other way round. One year uphill, the next year downhill. I prefer to run it when it’s going uphill. On the downhill route you have to go quite far down and that burns your thighs.
Starting at night and running through the sunrise is a particularly special atmosphere and there’s a mad mood. This run is for the South Africans what the Tour de France is for the French.
More info: http://www.comrades.com
3. Leadville Trail 100: “Crazily tough for the head”
Distance: 100 miles (160 km)
Course: Leadville, Colorado, Rocky Mountains
Next race: 19 August, 2017
Florian Neuschwander: “I won the Transrockies in 2015 in this area, a race made up of six day stages and 120 miles. The second stage of the Transrockies went over a part of the Leadville trail, mainly over the highest point, the Hope Pass, where it is 3600m high. And I was so hooked on the amazing landscape that I though to myself, wow, I need to run the Leadville some time.
It is a prestigious trail with proper height in the Rocky Mountains, technically very demanding and not easy for the head. 80 kilometers in one direction and then a turning point and the same on the way back.
And in the middle there is a huge mountain that you need to conquer twice up and down. It’s crazily tough for the head.”
More info: http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/run/leadvilletrail100run/
4. Western States 100: “A huge legend”
Distance: 100 miles (160 km)
Course: Squaw Valley to Austin, California
Next race: 24/25 June, 2017
Florian Neuschwander: “My dream race. It comes with a special story: It was once a horse race over 100 miles. One time a starter’s horse refused to run and the rider didn’t want to put the animal through the ordeal – so he quite simply ran the 100 miles himself. The following year there were three, maybe four crazy people who said, ‘okay we’ll run too’.
It’s a huge legend, prestigious. You watch all the films on YouTube with Scott Jurek the serial winner and imagine how it would be to copy him once. Fascinating!”
More info: http://www.wser.org
5. UTMB Ultra Trail Mont Blanc: “Ultimate ultra challenge”
Distance: 103 miles (168 km)
Course: Chamonix, Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix (Alps)
Next race: 28 August, 2017
Florian Neuschwander: “The UTMB is right at the end for me. It is the race with the most cumulative elevation gain. 168 kilometers around the Mont Blanc massif with around 10,000 meters of elevation is certainly very alpine, through France, Italy and Switzerland. I leave this one to the end – you can do it, if you don’t go as fast. 20 hours is the record so you have to run through the night. The course has the most difficult profile, it is the ultimate challenge. I wouldn’t throw myself into it quite yet. My experience of ultra running isn’t big enough just yet. I could perhaps complete it, but that would make no sense. My ultra plan is: step by step.”
More info: http://utmbmontblanc.com/de/UTMB
Florian Neuschwander: How to prepare for an ultra marathon
And how many ultra marathons would you recommend each year? “You can do two per year”, says Florian Neuschwander whose fastest time on an ultra distance is 100 kilometers in 6 hours 49 minutes. “Just like with marathons: one in spring and one in autumn. I wouldn’t recommend doing any more. If you do more you’ll break yourself.”
And how do you prepare for an ultra? “Similar to how you prepare for a marathon – with the difference being that the long runs are not 30 to 35 kilometers, rather 60 to 70. The rest is mental, and experience.”