What's the story behind the 6-day, 10-woman ultra marathon currently underway in California?

Feet running marathon
The first-of-its-kind all-women's event start yesterday to "redefine the limits of what’s possible" according to organizers (Image credit: skynesher)

Yesterday in California, a highly unusual ultra unning race got underway. The six-day event, titled FURTHER and organized by sportswear company Lululemon, saw 10 elite female athletes take off on a course in Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, California, the exact details of which haven't been released.

Though it's not uncommon for long-distance events to feature a smaller starting lineup – last month we reported on the Montane Arctic Spine race which had a mere handful of participants – this event is unique in that it is only for female athletes, something Lululemon says makes it the first of its kind. Each athlete has individual goals for the six days; for example, Camille Herron has announced on Instagram she's hoping to break the men's 6-day running record, which was set in 2005 by Yiannis Kouros when he ran 644.238 miles.

The company says the event is designed to showcase "how far women can go with support and access to resources and product innovations typically reserved for men," and reports that it worked with the athletes to create 36 innovations to test in the field.

These products include their Beyondfeel running shoes designed for a female foot, a highly supportive sports bra and the Runsie running shorts designed to make bathroom breaks easier.

Lululemon beyondfeel running shoes

The event is designed to showcase products such as the Beyondfeel running shoes designed for a female foot (Image credit: Lululemon)

In addition to promoting new products, scientists from the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific will be performing research to help them better understand human performance and answer questions such as whether female ultrarunners have better fatigue resistance than males. The research is said to be an attempt to close the gender gap in running and the findings will be published over the next two years, with initial findings to be published in the Fall of 2024.

Taking part in the race is a diverse group of runners from around the world ranging in ages 27 to 48. Here is the official lineup from Lululemon's announcement:

  • Montana Farrah-Seaton 
  • Stefanie Flippin
  • Camille Herron 
  • Kayla Jeter
  • Xiaomeng Jia
  • Yoon Young Kang 
  • Vriko Kwok
  • Mirna Valerio
  • Devon Yanko
  • Leah Yingling 

Unlike most races, the course details haven't been revealed, however you can track the athletes over the next five days here. Based on the number of laps traveled and current distance, the course seems to be a loop of approximately 2.5 miles, leading many to speculate the runners are on the path around Lake Cahuilla, which is 2.4 miles long, paved, with no elevation and rated as easy.

At the time of publication, Herron is well in the lead in terms of distance, having completed 104 miles in just over 18 hours.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.