Ultrarunner Damian Hall Creates an Initiative to Make Ultrarunning More Accessible

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In general, running is a fairly accessible sport if you just want to participate recreationally. 

With a good pair of running shoes, most people can safely start running without the need for expensive equipment, gym memberships, coaching, and fancy gear. 

Of course, you can certainly spend plenty of money as a runner by buying fancy gear such as a high-end GPS running watch and a premium home treadmill, working with a one-on-one coach, and entering a lot of races.

Unfortunately, it is this last factor—running races—that has made distance running increasingly expensive and not necessarily affordable and accessible to everyone.

Years ago, entry fees for road races were only a couple of dollars, but they have since skyrocketed to $30-60 for a shorter race and upwards of $100-$200 for a marathon, especially if it is a large race with a lot of swag and race support.

The one exception was ultrarunning. Ultramarathon trail races, in particular, remained quite affordable for a long time, at least in terms of entry fees.

However, as the popularity of ultrarunning has exploded, particularly in the UK and the United States, entry fees have also spiked significantly.

Plus, even more so than with road running, ultrarunning is associated with higher additional costs on top of race entry fees.

Ultrarunner Damian Hall Creates an Initiative to Make Ultrarunning More Accessible 1

For example, you need more specialized gear and you have to purchase running shoes more frequently given the mileage done in training.

Additionally, ultrarunning races tend to be spread out so if you do not live in an area with an ultramarathon that suits your needs, there will be associated travel fees surrounding the ultrarunning event that you choose.

Moreover, given the extreme physical and mental demands of ultrarunning, many ultrarunners choose to work with a coach, which can be rather expensive.

In an effort to increase the accessibility of ultrarunning in terms of the financial aspects, ultrarunner Damian Hall from Great Britain—along with a small group of additional ultrarunners—has launched a new initiative called Into Ultra.

The aim of Into Ultra is to reduce financial barriers impeding participation in ultrarunning by providing financial assistance to ultrarunners who have a demonstrated financial need.

Competitive ultrarunner Damien Hall made note that there seems to be an income disparity in participation rates at ultramarathon races, with those in lower-income groups being disproportionately underrepresented, as well as women and minorities in particular.

a marathon man running on beautiful forest trail

In order to improve inclusivity in the sport of ultrarunning, he was inspired to found the ultrarunning financial assistance scheme, Into Ultra.

There are no specific rules or guidelines about who is or isn’t eligible to receive ultrarunning funds through this new financial aid initiative, but the stated goal is to use the funds in a way that will have the biggest impact on ultrarunners who have limited financial resources.

Perspective ultrarunners that believe that they have financial limitations that preclude participating in ultrarunning as a sport or in a competitive sense can contact Into Ultra for an application to request funds.

Applicants who are approved may be entitled to up to a few hundred pounds of financial aid to help with ultrarunning entry fees, travel to ultramarathon events, and/or ultrarunning coaching services and support.

As the ultrarunning financial assistance initiative grows, Into Ultra will be reaching out to more ultramarathon race directors, ultrarunning coaches, running stores, etc. in order to help set up potential collaborations to help broaden the financial support options for lower-income ultrarunners.

Although this grassroots ultrarunning organization is still in its very early stages, and thus funds are limited, Into Ultra hopes to receive official vote “charitable status“ and to receive additional funding to help provide more financial support for an even larger number of ultrarunners.

If you are interested in applying for potential financial support for your own ultrarunning endeavors, you can request an application by emailing Into Ultra at apply@intoultra.org.uk. 

If you would like additional information and to learn more about this ultramarathon initiative, you can find more thorough information on the website here. 

Note that Marathon Handbook offers some free ultramarathon training plans, which you can access here.

We also offer one on one ultramarathon coaching for those who have the financial means and interest. You can learn more about private ultrarunning coaching through Marathon Handbook here.

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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