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Running an ultra in Belgium – long trails in a small country

Yvo In Den Bosch

Running an ultra in Belgium – long trails in a small country

Running Collection by Perrine

5

Tours

85:05 h

421 mi

56,000 ft

Who said you need mountains for trail running?

Certain races like the well–known UTMB have contributed to making trail running a discipline in its own right. Rugged terrain and climbs are in the DNA of trail running, but you don’t have to be in the mountains to have fun on the trails. Although Belgium is relatively flat, it has many trail possibilities and the altitude differences can (almost) compete with trails in the Alps.

Here, I present five unusual courses and ultras – routes with a distance greater than a marathon (42.195 km / 26.2 mi). When it comes to ultras, limits barely exist. These five trails are based on marked routes and official races. They range in length from 100 to 160 kilometres (62 to 100 mi), but you can split them up and complete them in several parts too. Enough to keep your weekends busy for a good while. All of the routes are loops, except the last one, which starts in Luxembourg and ends in Belgium.

Most of the proposed routes take place in my native region – the Ardennes. The endless forests and deep valleys offer some of the most demanding trails with significant accumulated elevation gain.

These routes are for experienced trail runners who are in good shape. You can't improvise an ultra! However, if you’re an amateur runner who wants to progress, you can divide the stages into daily routes to complete over one, two, three or more days.

May until September is the best time of year to run these routes. Some of the trails ford rivers and require fairly low water levels.

While running an ultra is a dream for many trail fans, few people manage it. In the end, running in the wild is a state of mind. It's about listening to your body and your feelings, appreciating your environment and feeling in harmony with nature.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Course 1: Ultra Tour des Sources – great trails in a small country

    Difficult
    19:17
    99.0 mi
    5.1 mph
    11,550 ft
    11,550 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    The Ultra Trail Des Sources - or UTDS for short - is a marked trail created by the ASBL Extratrail. The route connects seven municipalities in the province of Liège, in eastern Belgium. With its 163 kilometers for 3,400 meters of elevation gain, its extraordinary dimensions can make you dizzy! It is

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  • Difficult
    20:02
    98.1 mi
    4.9 mph
    13,600 ft
    13,575 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Grand Trail des Lacs et Châteaux takes you on a journey of 160 kilometers for 4,200 meters of elevation gain.

    

    In this trail, we stay in the beautiful Belgian Ardennes, the green lung of Belgium. The start is in Ovifat, a small village known to be one of the few winter sports centers in the country

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  • Difficult
    13:21
    62.3 mi
    4.7 mph
    9,850 ft
    9,850 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    La Bouillonnante in XXL version is a course of 101 kilometers and 3,000 meters of elevation gain.

    

    Please note, this trail includes a fording only possible when the level of the Semois is low.

    

    This trail starts and ends at Château de Bouillon, an impressive medieval fortress overlooking the small town of

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  • Difficult
    12:09
    63.1 mi
    5.2 mph
    6,550 ft
    6,550 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Trail of the loops of the Semois takes you on a journey of 102 kilometers for just over 2,000 meters of elevation gain.

    

    Please note, this trail includes a fording only possible when the level of the Semois is low. This trail starts from Herbeumont, where the Semois twists in many meanders. But it

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  • Difficult
    20:18
    99.0 mi
    4.9 mph
    14,450 ft
    14,375 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Grande Évasion trail takes you on a journey of 160 kilometers for 4,400 meters of elevation gain.

    

    This itinerary explores another small country, even smaller than Belgium: Luxembourg! While perhaps best known for its reputation as a tax haven, Luxembourg is also a haven for lovers of nature and scenic

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    421 mi
  • Duration
    85:05 h
  • Elevation
    56,000 ft

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