Ultrabalaton is one the most prestigious running events in Hungary for individual runners, relay teams and bikers. The scenic route of this unique „one-lap-race” circumnavigates the sparkling blue waters of Lake Balaton, making the event the longest running race in Central Europe.
Ultrabalaton was first organised in 2007 with the aim of establishing an ultra running race with a distance longer than 200 km. More and more people joined the initial 200 participants over the years and by 2016 the event gained so much popularity that team registration had to be closed in early December due to heavy oversubscription and the day after online registration opened, over 200 teams were already on the waiting list. Last year over 7500 registrants joined the race from 25 countries.
In the first 6 years, the runners started from the shore of the Inner Lake of Tihany and after passing through Aszófő they headed towards the Balaton Uplands. From 2013 the runners start from Balatonaliga, circumnavigating the lake also in a northward direction. Competitors have 32 hours to complete the race, therefore Ultrabalaton is a non-stop event. This year there will be 36 relay points and over 40 refreshment points along the route to help the athletes towards a successful finish.
The lonely heroes of the race are the ultrarunners, who are not alone during one of the longest days of the year. They are the ones who try to cover the distance on their own, without stopping. Some interesting facts about them:
- The tightest individual finish was during the first race with less than two minutes between János Bogár and Yiannis Kouros. This time, the Hungarian athlete was faster.
- Until the eighth Ultrabalaton, János Bogár kept the track record that Ivan Cudin broke in 2014 with an 18 hour- 30 minute- 12 second finishing time. During the ninth Ultrabalaton, where the lap distance was extended to 220 km, a new track record was born: Jan-Albert Lantnik completed the race in 18 hours, 37 minutes and 36 seconds.
- In 2011 a record number of individual competitors crossed the finish line: one hundred ultrarunners completed the race within the cut off time.
- 2012 was also a memorable year, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius during the race. Due to the extreme weather conditions, there were only 35 individual finishers that year.
- Only once in the history of Ultrabalaton was the overall competition won by a female competitor. Her name is Dr Szilvia Lubics.
- Nobody has managed to double in the overall competition so far.
- Since the first Ultrabalaton race 393 ultra runners were able to complete the race at least once within the cut off time.
- Guilles Pallaruelo is the only competitor who has taken part in all of the Ultrabalaton races since 2007 and completed each race within the cut off time. This is why his race number will be Number 11. Watch the video about him here.
- From among the Hungarian competitors, Juhász Attila is the most successful runner with 9 successfully completed races.
- Race number 1 for individual runners is awarded to participants based on idividual assessment by the organizers. In 2015 Dr. Lubics Szilvia wore this number.
The majority of the participants compete in teams. Planning, organizing, travelling and competing together for 32 hours is a great cohesive force. It strengthens friendships and promotes cooperation among runners who have never met before. We cannot imagine a better team-building activity than a race where everyone has to face and conquer their own demons and then at the relay points, looking at their companions they realize they have never been alone and have a team to cheer them on and give them all their support.
During the 220 km race the competitors get to know themselves better and realize that they can break their limits. The challenge, the individual and team achievements bring people together and give them an experience of a lifetime.
By now Ultrabalaton has become a household name. It is a devil of a challenge, a real sports fiesta, a huge party, a social event and a pilgrimage in its own right.