This November Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will become home to the first 6-day foot race in the southeast region of the continental United States. Aptly named for the Greek mythological character symbolizing ambition, Icarus Florida Ultrafest wants its participants to push themselves further than they ever believed possible.
Though the idea of a 6-day foot race may sound like a new extreme twist to the already formidable sport of ultra-running, in actuality quite the opposite is true. People have been traveling hundreds of miles over the course of several successive days since the early 1800s. Robert Barclay Allardyce set one of the first known record in 1809 by run/walking one mile each hour of each of 1000 consecutive hours.** During the “golden era” of multiday races, roughly the 1870s and 1880s, thousands of spectators, several hundred vendors, and even musicians crowded around a small indoor track to be part of the excitement. The
atmosphere more resembled the spectacle currently reserved for large popular marathons such as Disney than the low-key un-commercialized ultras that runners are now accustomed to.
Director Andrei Nana hopes that Icarus Florida Ultrafest attracts both new and veteran ultra-runners. He also wants to raise American ultrarunning to an international level. So far it appears he has succeeded in developing an event that satisfies both goals.
The course consists of a one kilometer loop through beautiful Snyder Park that is completely flat and shaded. Its main aid station area will be located near the start/finish and “serve three hot meals per day along with ample gels, sports drinks, electrolytes, granola bars, cookies, cakes, and snacks.” Each runner will always be within one kilometer of all their supplies and personnel.
Elite runners will appreciate that Icarus Florida Ultrafest is a USATF– and IAAF-sanctioned event on a USATF- and IAAF-certified course, marking it as truly a professionally competitive event. USATF designation means that athletes can submit performances as an official record or national ranking; IAAF designation describes an international elite field adhering to anti-doping and timekeeping standards. Additionally, Icarus will offer qualifying options for the World 24 Hour Championship and the Spartathlon. The course’s small flat loop combined with cool weather should yield some pretty spectacular records.
Andrei Nana made sure novice ultra-runners would feel welcome by creating shorter races run concurrently to the six day event. Each day runners will be able to participate in a three, six, 12 or 24 hour race. Marathons and half-marathoners interested in getting a feel for the atmosphere and challenge of an ultra could comfortably participate in those events; and as Nana explained “those races are held alongside the six day competitors so it’s very possible to have a world record holder running with someone who has only run a few races.”
With less than twenty six day events in existence, only four within The States, that’s a very real possibility.
What: Icarus Florida Ultrafest
Where: Snyder Park – 3299 SW 4th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33315, USA
When: November 10th – November 16th, 2014
** 9/4/14 Correction – An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Robert Barclay Allardyce traveled 1000 consecutive days. The mistake has been corrected to 1000 consecutive hours.