The Race Across America, or RAAM, is an ultra-distance road cycling race held across the United States that started in 1982 as the Great American Bike Race. In length the RAAM is comparable to the Tour de France….but the races differ to a great extent. The courses of both races have varied over the years….however, in the Race Across America, the direction has always been from the west coast to the east coast of the United States….and approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km)….thus making it a transcontinental event. More importantly, the race has no stages, i.e., it is in principle a nonstop event from start to finish….with the fastest competitors needing slightly over a week to complete the course. By contrast, the Tour de France features a different route each year (alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits around France) and is about 2,300 miles long; the distance is divided into individual daily stages spread over the course of about 3 weeks and contested at much higher speeds.
Long-distance running or endurance running is a form of continuous running over distances of at least eight kilometers (5 miles)….which physiologically is largely aerobic in nature….and requires stamina as well as mental strength. In the sport of athletics, long-distance events are defined as races covering three kilometers (1.86 miles) and above. The three most common types are track running, road running and cross country running….all of which are defined by their terrain – all-weather tracks, roads and natural terrain, respectively. Typical long-distance track races range from 3000 meters to 10,000 meters (6.2 miles)….whereas cross country races usually cover 5 to 12 km (3 to 7½ miles)….while road races can be significantly longer….sometimes reaching 100 kilometers (60 miles) and beyond. In collegiate cross country races in the United States….men race 8000 or 10000 meters….depending on their division….whereas women race 6000 meters. The Summer Olympics features three long-distance running events….the 5000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon (42.195 kilometers or 26 miles and 385 yards).