The True Blue DX Club announced in the fall of 2020 their plans for a year-long event to promote CW and SSB activity on the HF bands. Now, with hundreds of operators pre-registered to participate in the event, we are ready to launch!

Are you ready for the First Annual Ultra Marathon?   The event begins at 0000z on January 1, 2021 and ends on December 31, 2021.

All the event details are available here:  https://www.tbdxc.net/marathon

Q & A with Jeff N1SNB, Ultra Marathon Manager

Q: What is the purpose of the Ultra Marathon?

A:   The event exists to bring more activity to the HF bands while also creating a fun, stimulating, and unique event. There is an explanatory 5 minute video here: https://www.tbdxc.net/marathon that

I think this event is very appealing because it can tie a lot of your operations together into one big score, a sort of Annual Report of your HF activity. The Ultra Marathon also fills a void between casual contesters and DXers and their more competitive brethren: one might not have the station or work schedule to be a top contester or atop the Honor Roll. but one can still put together an impressive Ultra Marathon score and maybe even win or earn a top placement.

I don’t think of my ongoing HF operation now in terms of Ultra Marathon, so who knows what I can accomplish? Can I work 175+ entities in 2021? Can I work 30 zones and 100 countries on 80m as part of my Ultra Marathon score? I don’t know. What goals will you set for yourself and your station?

I also like that even if one misses some big chunks of caledar with other commitments, they can jump back into the Ultra Marathon and still push forward.

Q: Who do you think will participate? Contesters? DXers?

A: The short answer is that anyone who uses HF and enjoys making contacts on CW and SSB is eligible to participate and submit a score. The entry barriers are low; you don’t need to know a specific Ultra Marathon contest exchange or anything like that nor do you need to be a member of our club.

Contesters and DXers are competitive groups of operators. Based on pre-registrations, we expect strong support from both of these groups. We are in a unique moment in ham history as few DXpeditions are happening, while contest participation is at all-time high. 2021 also will feature the return of sunspots. Taken together, I think the timing is perfect for an Ultra Marathon to launch and take off.

Q: What are the categories I can enter?

Each participant must choose CW or SSB and indicate their power: High, Low, and QRP. There are six total categories possibilities. Please note, there is no mixed-mode category.

Q: How is the Ultra Marathon different from the CQ DX Marathon?

A: The fundamental difference is that we’re running on the scoring model provided by the CQ WW contests. Ultra Marathon has multipliers (zones and countries), QSO points, and a more contest-like structure. The CQ DX Marathon is different. For instance, in the CQ DX Marathon in 2019, R6YY won the CQ DX Marathon’s unlimited category with a score of 322 (countries plus zones).

We don’t know what to expect in terms of high scores for Ultra Marathon, but they could conceivably get very high into the tens of millions of points. Other differences are that we are asking entrants to choose one mode (CW or SSB) and that contacts on the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10-meter bands are the only ones eligible. Some of the contacts could be rapid-fire contest QSOs (even QSOs made in other contests) or ragchews or however you choose to make contacts. It doesn’t matter, they are all potentially eligible for inclusion in your Ultra Marathon score.

These parameters introduce all sorts of potential strategies that could help maximize one’s score. For instance, here in the United States, I could maximize my Ultra Marathon score by working as many VE/Canadian stations as possible on 160m even if I can’t work more than a handful of different zones on that band.

The feeling is also that the event’s duration can be a great equalizer between larger and smaller stations. There are many opportunities for strategy development to improve one’s score regardless of your stations’ capabilities.

Q: How should I log QSOs?

A: You’ll want a computer logging program that supports the CQ WW contest. See the help videos on our website,  https://www.tbdxc.net/marathon, to answer all your questions on logging and software.

Q: Can I use other contest QSOs or event QSOs in my Ultra Marathon score?

Yes, absolutely –  but just like the WW contest, you can only work a station once per band, and that contact is worth a set number of points based on the geography of the station you work.

There is a record-keeping challenge as you begin to merge logs into an Ultra Marathon score submission. For instance, I’ll be using N1MM as my’ log of record’ and will need to make some effort to maintain it separately than my day to day or contest logs.

Q: Will there be a scoreboard?

Yes, there will be a place to register, enter results, and view the results of other participants on the club’s website. We will also be providing regular updates. Participants are encouraged to enter scores often!  Visit it here:  https://tbdxc.hamserver.de/marathon/

Q: What about log checking?

Unlike more traditional contests, we are operating primarily on the honor system. We are not asking for logs from most participants. However, If you qualify for an award, you will be asked to submit a log file that the Club Contest committee will adjudicate.

Q: How can I participate, and where can I get more information about the Ultra Marathon and read the full rules?

A: Everything is available on the website, https://www.tbdxc.net/marathon. Sign up and get started today! Make contacts and submit your score; that’s most important. But we also need help spreading the word.