With 50 laps and more than 330K under their belts, nine runners are still on their feet at Big’s Backyard Ultra. Belgium, Sweden and the U.S. each have two runners left, and Mexico has three. All participants are running in their respective countries. Ultrarunning legend Courtney Dauwalter and Belgium’s Karel Sabbe, who got farther than anyone else at the 2019 Barkley Marathons (though there were no finishers), are still in the mix and looking incredibly strong. Despite having already run for 50 hours, this could last a lot longer, and although it’s still more than 100K away, it looks like we could witness an event record.
— Keith (@keithdunn) October 17, 2020
Big’s runners are tasked with running 6.7K every hour for as many hours as they can. The last runner standing wins. At the start of the event, there were 300 runners, but now, 50 hours later, 291 of them have dropped out or failed to complete a 6.7K lap within the allotted time, meaning they all registered DNFs. With six runners left, there’s no telling how long this could go on. Eight might DNF after the 51st lap (which would mean that the last runner would just need to complete Lap 52 in order to win), or all nine could keep running until Lap 72. At the rate they’re all running right now, it doesn’t look like the former possibility is all that likely.
For the U.S., Dauwalter is running alongside Harvey Lewis, and both are completing each lap with plenty of time to rest. Dauwalter has an average lap time of 50:39 throughout the race, and Lewis is not far behind her with an average of 51:45. From laps 44 to 48, Dauwalter went on a tear that saw her run five-straight sub-48-minute laps, which is incredible considering she was two days into the competition at that point.
In Belgium, Sabbe is hammering through each lap with Merijn Geerts. Sabbe is averaging a mind-boggling 47:02 per lap, and Merijn is running even faster at 46:23. The Swedes are also averaging sub-50 lap times, with Anna Carlsson posting 46:53 per lap (her 50th lap was an amazing 45:05) and her compatriot Torbjörn Gyllenbring coming in at 49:09. The three-person Mexican team of Miguel Lara Viniegra, Perdió Parra and Juan Contreras are still running strong, with mean times of 47:29 for Viniegra and sub-49 for his teammates.
Big’s Backyard Ultra records came in 2018, when Sweden’s Johan Steene ran 455K, setting the overall event record and taking the win over second-place Dauwalter, who ran a women’s record of 449K. As the athletes are on their 51st hour of running and still looking strong, these records could be in danger of being beaten, although the question of who will be the last runner standing is unanswerable at this point, and it very truly is anyone’s race to win.