If running has been part of your life in any shape or form, whether you are a hobby runner or a serious competitor, you will have heard of the legendary Ultrabalaton. This prestigious race is open to individuals and teams, and is a staple on the bucket lists of any who love running. The 17th NN ULTRABALATON will take place from 4 to 7 May 2023. To mark this occasion, we have pulled together a brief overview of the past 17 years of its history. We also want to encourage everyone to enter this race at least once because it is guaranteed to enrich you with an experience like no other.
You can take up running at any age, and the broad and diverse community that Ultrabalaton has built over the past nearly two decades will surely continue this tradition for many years to come. So put on your racing shoes! But until then, let’s take a quick look at how this event came about, what makes it unique and to what it owes its popularity among dedicated runners.
UB – The beginning
The idea for UB was conceived in 2007. Its creators wanted to launch a running competition that covered over 200 kilometres. From a few hundred competitors at the start, the race quickly grew into an iconic event that attracted large numbers of people. Initially, the runners set off from Tihany Inner Lake, but ten years ago the starting line was moved to Balatonaliga. As the number of participants grew, the race centre had to move to Balatonfüred in the interest of security and for logistical reasons.
UB uses two sets of time limits. In order to complete the challenge successfully, individual competitors have to finish the circuit around Lake Balaton in 31 hours, while teams have 27 hours to do so. Runners have to complete the circuit within the time limit but cyclists are not timed.
UB is about more than just a love of running. It is also about a connection with ourselves and with nature. The commitment to protecting the environment goes well beyond slogans for the organisers. UB is well-deserving of the title of the greenest running festival in Europe. No plastic is used at the event since 2020, which is quite an accomplishment for a race of this size. UB is the first European running competition to have reached this very important environmental milestone.
Even Covid-19 could not stop runners, and it could not stop Ultrabalaton, either. The competition could not be organised in 2020 because of the pandemic, but the organisers found a way for runners and UB fanatics to complete the challenge anyway. In a spectacular display of out-of-the-box thinking, Private Ultrabalaton was set up to allow competitors to run the race on their own during the pandemic.
From strength to strength
UB has become the largest running competition of Central Europe, with the number of entrants exceeding a staggering seventeen thousand. The objective of the race is to circumnavigate Lake Balaton, running solo or in a relay team or cycling. Currently, runners start in Balatonfüred, and head west to cover a total of 211 kilometres.
Places are limited, and it takes a great deal of expertise on the part of the organisers to facilitate the competition for thousands of entrants each year. All available places are taken up in the race year after year, and they go more and more quickly each time. If you want to enter, you will have to be on your toes when registration opens because in recent years all tickets were snatched up in a matter of minutes.
It is also important to consider that because of the large number of people the race attracts, local accommodation tends to fill up quickly. Whether you are a competitor or going to UB to cheer someone on, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance. UB starts from Balatonfüred, which is very crowded at this time of year. If you’d rather opt for something less crowded, or if you’d like to spend a few relaxing days after the race near Lake Balaton, Aranypart Camping in Siófok may be the ideal place for you. Check out our range of accommodation types: we have everything a tired traveller could want, from convenience services, large, green grounds with trees and a great atmosphere, and the lake right on your doorstep.
Cycling around Lake Balaton
The NN UB experience is not just for runners, however: cyclist are also welcome to join. The McDonald’s BringaMánia Ultrabalaton Cycle Tour is open not just to cyclists who accompany the runners but also everyone else that would like to cover the 211-kilometre distance on the saddle of a bike. The circuit runs around Lake Balaton westwards, just like for the runners, but cyclists are not timed, and there are no time limits set for them, either. The cycle tour is focused instead on enjoying the experience, the love of Lake Balaton and freedom.
Whether you are a runner or a cyclist, Ultrabalaton provides an unmatched experience. It offers the opportunity to marvel at the natural marvels of Lake Balaton and take part in a grand community event at the same time. Running, cycling and a fun camping holiday brings people together, just like Lake Balaton does.