How Many Miles Is a 50k?

Top view of sporty young fit woman running on urban asphalt. Female athlete training outside in summer.

Want to know how long is a 50K race? Then you’re in the right place.

The 50K race is a completely different experience from your standard marathon. The event has its own set of challenges that will push each runner beyond their physical and mental breaking point.

Running a 50K means a slower pace. However, intensity and exertion levels increase compared to a marathon.

In this article, I’ll explain

  • What the 50K is all about,
  • How far is a 50K
  • how long it takes, and
  • a few training strategies to help you get the most out of the event.

How Long Is a 50K?

So how many miles is a 50K?

If you just set the goal of running a 50K, congratulations. That’s quite of a decision. I salute you.

50K, or 50 kilometers, comes out at a distance of 31.07 miles, to be exact. The event is an ultra-distance footrace longer than the standard road marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.19kms).

Let me put this distance into perspective.

A 5K is 3.1 miles, so to run 50 kilometers, all you have to do is run 10 5K races in a row. So yes, that’s 31 miles in total.

The event can take place on the road but is usually run on natural trails in regions worldwide.

Although it only requires running an extra 5 miles more than a standard marathon, the 50K requires respect and dedication to training.

It’s a drastically different race style to your standard marathon.

What’s more?

Most 50K events require you to be self-sustained when it comes to hydration and nutrition since aid stations are scarce and far in between.

Is 50K an Ultra-Marathon?

Technically, any distance longer than the standard marathon is considered an ultra-marathon. This makes the 50K the next longest established race after a marathon.

The most popular ultramarathon distances are 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles. However, each race is unique when it comes to terrains, distance, and challenges. But all in all, ultra-marathon are not for the faint of heart, literally and figuratively

What’s more?

Training for an ultra-marathon takes years of sweat, dedication and the load can easily become unendurable.

That’s why most people training for ultra-marathons tend to be elite athletes since training for one requires long hours every day. It can be a full-time job on its own.

What Is The World Record For 50K?

The current 50K world record is held by the Ethiopian Ketema Negasa, of 2:42:07 at the Nedbank Runified 50K Race in South Africa. The event was held in the town of Gqeberha and had roughly 100 elite ultra-runners around the world.

As for women, the current world record belongs to the British Aly Dixon, who completed the distance in  3:07:20 in 2019 at the IAU 50k World Championships in Romania. The unofficial women’s 50K record is at 2:59:54  by Des Linden at a small event in Oregon.

How Long Does it Take to Run a 50K?

50K running time depends on many variables such as your fitness level, training experience, age, terrain, weather conditions—I can go on and on.

But, all in all, expect to run 10 to 30 seconds slower per mile than your standard marathon pace.

That might be around 10 to 20 percent slower than your standard road running pace,  or more if the course is rocky and rugged or has a drastic vertical gain.

For example, if your best marathon is 3 hours 30 minutes (8:00 per mile), then expect to run a 50K in around 4 hours 14 minutes to 4 hours 25 minutes (8:10 per mile – 8:30 per mile).

On average, a good 50K finish time is around 6 hours and 13 minutes for men and 6 hours and 49 minutes for women.

How To Run Your First 50K

Here are a few tips to help you have your best 50K race.

Train Right

As a beginner, your main goal when running your first ultra is to simply reach the finish line.

You might be setting the bar too low, but you should expect the unexpected on your first event. You’re, after all, headed off into uncharted territories.

How much training you need depends on your starting point.

Beginner runners may need to train for up to a year to prepare properly. Intermediate runners—those running regularly for the past three to four months, covering no less than 40 miles per week—can get a proper amount of training in roughly six months.

Whereas advanced runners—think your typical sub-3-hour marathoner—can train for a 50K race in two to three months.

So what should you do next?

Start training for an ultra-only race after building a solid base of running. I’d recommend at least one year of regular running without any major injuries or problems., covering no less than 40 miles each week.

Next, give yourself four to six months to train for your first 50K, following a running plan that lets you ramp up mileage and intensity gradually.

At a minimum, you should build up your weekly mileage to over 50 to 60 miles per week. Forty miles per week should be your starting point, but you should be reaching the 60-mile mark two to three weeks before your race.

At the very least, you should have already completed more than one marathon and are confident that the additional five miles won’t be a significant challenge.

Do Your Long Runs

I hate to sound like a broken record, but ultras are long.

That’s why doing plenty of long runs is key to building the required endurance and mental resilience.

Long runs will be the most challenging part of your training. But if you learn how to do them right, you’ll be having fun most of the time.

After all, there are 31 miles in a 50K, so you got to be ready for them.

Your Nutrition

Although diet is key for running your best race, I don’t see the need to make any drastic changes to your nutrition plan. This is especially the case if you already have a working plan.

But, all in all, I’d recommend that you increase your daily calorie intake by up to 20 percent. After all, you’ll be logging more miles.

You should also practice your fuel strategy during your long runs. Most ultras don’t have regular aid stations as it’s the norm in standard road marathons.

Recovery

Although training is key for running a successful race, recovery is also important. All of your hard work will be in vain if you aren’t getting enough rest and recovery.

As your weekly training load increases, your body will ask for more recovery so pay attention.

For starters, get enough sleep. Shoot for eight to nine hours a night to keep your body strong.

You should also avoid straining your muscles too much during cross-training.

What’s more? Remember to warm up and cool down before and after every workout. I cannot emphasize this enough.

For more on proper recovery practices, check the following articles.

  • Article 1
  • Article 2

Get The Gear

Going the extra mile—or six—requires a lot more gear than a relatively shorter race distance, such as the half marathon or marathon.

Your ultramarathon gear may make or break your race.

Some of the essentials include:

  • Lightweight backpack
  • A small first aid
  • A mix of fuels, such as gel sweets, energy bars, and rehydration packs
  • Chafing creams
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreens
  • Lightweight waterproof layer
  • Rock tape
  • Good quality headlamp
  • Spare batteries

All in all, the more technical the terrain, the more gear you’ll require.