After four long days and three nights, Harvey Lewis of Cincinnati has finally won the longest backyard ultra ever held, at Big’s Backyard Ultra in Tennessee. Lewis completed the ultra-endurance event with 85 yards, running 6.7 km every hour for 85 hours – four more yards than the previous record for the backyard format of 81, held by John Stocker of the U.K. (That’s a mind-boggling 354.17 miles, or 570.2 km.)
What an incredible effort @HarveyLewisRuns, @lazyultrarunner and Mori! It’s impossible to comprehend what y’all did for 3 1/2 days. Truly inspirational. Chris, hope to see you at Hellgate or the JIM! pic.twitter.com/ZOBxtMGGca
— Costi Sifri, MD (@costisifri) October 20, 2021
The race, organized by Laz Lake (of Barkley Marathons fame), started Saturday morning at 7 a.m. local time and ended Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. Officially there is no runner-up; the 84 yards run by Chris Roberts of Kirkwood, Mo. also exceeded the previous world record, but according to the rules of backyard racing, he gets a DNF. (Roberts started an 85th yard, but dropped out partway through it; according to the rules, Lewis had to finish that yard in order to secure the win.) Roberts ran 350 miles (563.5 km).
Terumichi Morishita of Japan was the second-last runner to drop, after completing 80 yards. He reportedly fell during his final yard and blacked out momentarily, arriving at the finish line a heartbreaking 30 seconds too late.
Lewis is a veteran of the backyard ultra scene, having won the Ohio Backyard Ultra in March, with 55 yards. He also competed in the 2020 virtual edition of Big’s, finishing as the second-place American behind U.S. champion Courtney Dauwalter, who set a course record at UTMB in August. (This year, Dauwalter dropped out after 42 yards.)
Five Canadians started the race on Saturday, including some veterans of last year’s world championships (Stephanie Simpson, Terri Biloski, Matt Shepard), in which multiple nations’ teams ran on courses in their home countries. (The Canadians finished third.) With 50 yards (335 km), Eric Deshaies went the farthest of the Canadians.