In 2018 we started a stage of one of our races with a helicopter. Imagine what 2019 might look like...

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Blog and Update

In 2018 we started a stage of one of our races with a helicopter.

We held successful races in the depths of the Peruvian jungle, the freezing arctic wilderness of Swedish Lapland, the boiling and ancient Namib Desert and the open wildlife conservancies of Kenya.  It was a melee of mud, snow, sand, blisters, victories, elephants, rhinos, course records and comradery.

It was epic.

  • Thanks to our partnership with Mossy Earth, we’ve been able to plant 200 new trees
  • We had our first race with a near 50/50 gender split
  • We took more steps towards removing plastic from our races
  • We partnered with For Rangers and Save the Rhino
  • The Ice Ultra Documentary was produced

It’s an amazing feeling when something you’ve been working on for a long time starts to come together.  Here at BTU HQ, we’ve felt a little of that feeling in 2018 and it’s been amazing.  As we power headlong into 2019, we thought we’d share our thoughts on the last 12 months.

As any of our runners will know, we work closely with the communities local to our races, to leave the beautiful areas we visit in a better position after we leave.  Flying is a necessary evil when it comes to reaching these places though and these journeys have a big effect on the size of our carbon footprint.  Back in April, we offered all runners the chance to purchase a tree alongside their race fee in order to offset some of the carbon created when they fly off to meet us somewhere exotic.  In September we decided we could do better, so we now purchase a tree for every runner who signs up for one of our races.  Thanks to all those who signed up there are now 200 new trees in the world.

The Desert Ultra 2018 had only one fewer female runners to male.  As is often the case, the rate of finishers amongst women across our series is higher than among the men and we strive to celebrate these achievements of our female competitors at least as highly as those of the men.  We will maintain this throughout 2019 and hope that this message attracts more female runners to our races and to ultra-running in general.  We’ve been lucky to host some amazing ambassadors for women in running and through our event coverage, podcasting and policies we hope to get that gender split looking just as healthy on all our races in the future.

Plastic water bottles are a thing of the past and we do our best to source local, recyclable materials for our other logistical needs.  In total, our races are around 1000km in length.  Last year we used just 6km of reusable tape to mark our courses and all of this was removed afterward.  Most of this will be used again.

2018 was the year of the rhino for us.  We took 50 runners on a journey across the open plains of Kenya where they had the opportunity to run among Africa’s giants under the vigilant watchful eyes of the rangers who guard them.  Over £100k was raised by this year’s event and this has gone towards the welfare of the Rangers who protect the rhinos, elephants and other amazing wildlife across Africa and beyond.  Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest marathon runner in the world, came to the equator to give out the finishers’ medals.  It sounds like the kind of event it would be difficult to beat but we intend to do just that in 2019 – taking more athletes and raising even more money for For Rangers and Save the Rhino.

We have a talented media team and they’re always a big part of our races, traveling alongside our runners in far-flung parts of the world.  They’re the people who tell the stories that unfold out there in the wild to the families, friends, and followers back in reality.  For the first time, at the beginning of 2018, we invited one such talented camera-slinger – Ryan Lovejoy – to head behind the scenes.  This time his job was to show the bigger picture of the race.  To show what happens behind the scenes as the runners make their way through the incredibly challenging Arctic environment.  It available now on you HERE, and the response we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive.

So that was 2018 in short.  This blog is just a flavour of all the amazing experiences we’ve shared with our runners over the last year.  For a taste of what is to come in 2019 here’s another sample of Ryan Lovejoy’s film-making wizardry.  Check out our new Showreel.

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/BumWyAHziN8″ /]

Where will you be joining us in 2019?


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Will Roberts

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