Why does Robbie Britton GB Ultra Marathon Runner Run 6 Marathons in 24hrs?

Running a 24hr race is probably one of the unhealthiest things you can do in a day, similar in levels of bodily damage to a month living in Ibiza.

Staying up all night, eating your dinner on the run and pouring sugary drinks down your gullet whilst listening to house music may sound like a good night out, but that’s actually three key elements of 24hr events, with a little bit of running.

Robbie Britton Ultra Marathon Runner Ice Run

Ultra marathons were previously seen as a hobby for old men with epic beards and anyone who thought a marathon was over just a touch too quickly but now they are booming worldwide with many wondering just what their bodies are capable of. The answer will surprise you.

Ultras are no longer the reserve of the super fit or slightly deranged. The secret has come out and now everyone is signing up to explore the great outdoors in one of the best ways possible, on your feet and under your own steam.

Anything from 50km to 3,100 mile races can be found around the globe.

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Over the last seven years this small man has gone from intrigued debutante to finishing 3rd in the World and European 24hr Championships by completing 261km (162 miles) in 24 hours. What had previously seemed impossible has now been achieved and the bar is forever being raised.

What started as an excuse to get fit, see more of the world, locally and globally and have a bit of fun has turned into a lifestyle like no other. From humble beginnings in the South East of London to mountain races and GB vests, it has all just been a journey of pushing that little bit harder or getting a touch smarter year on year.

Given the choice of running around the stunning Tour de Mont Blanc, through three countries and in some of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe or running around a 400m track and a car park for 24 hours it would seem like an easy one, but the beauty of the 24hr race is not the scenery.


This October the British Team will be attempting to retain their European Gold Medal and it is an honour to be a part of that. Whilst there may not be breath-taking mountains to occupy your view, the chance to discover so much about oneself is rarely possible in modern life. I want to find out my limits and how close to destruction my body can be pushed.

In the last 7 years I've gone from intrigued debutante to finishing 3rd in 24 hour 162 miles race!

Before the Europeans there is the small matter of the UK Ultra Trail Championships this weekend at the Hoka Highland Fling, 53 miles along the West Highland Way and skirting the coasting of Loch Lomond. No one has ever broken seven hours for the course, with good reason, but this year is the strongest starting field ever and those in the know believe it will take a time beginning with 6:xx to win. It’s going to be fun finding out.

The key to a successful ultra marathon isn’t actually about going fast but fuelling the engine to keep moving efficiently for as long as possible. Being fast is definitely a good thing but it won’t help when you’re running on fumes at 40 miles barely able to put another foot forward and that is speaking from experience.

It helps when you’re feeling low in a race to have a panoramic view of mountains ahead but during a bad 153 mile race in Greece in 2013, having set off too quickly in the heat, I hadn’t even raised my head to see the hills until they had been there for hours. There will always be lows, but they never last.

Crossing a finish line, knowing you have left everything out on the trail, track or road, is a satisfying feeling whatever the distance, but when you feel like you have pushed your body beyond previous limitations then it feels great to take that final step. It feels even better to lie down on the floor directly afterwards too.

Robbie Britton Ultra Marathon Runner

Apart from a voyage of self-discovery Ultra running can also be a pretty good guide to the world. Having travelled extensively to race there have been moments when I have run through a region or area that there would have been zero chance of visiting if it were not for the event.

Running across the glacial landscapes of Northern Portugal, past the fairy towers of Cappadocia, Turkey and the single tracks trails of the Tarawera forest in New Zealand are all just as great as spending 24hrs on a track in Barcelona trying to qualify for Team GB the first time.

Whatever you do in your life make sure it is something that drives you, regardless of whether it is sport, design, nursing, music, being a parent or any other calling. If you don’t want to strive to be the best at what you do, then look for somewhere else to find that passion. For me, that’s what life is all about.

Keep up to date with Robbie’s running at http://robbiebritton.co.uk

Photo Credits: Robbie in Orange Top by Marathon du Mont Blanc; Robbie in BTU Ice Ultra by Mikkel Beisner