Durango-based ultrarunner Maggie Guterl not only won the 2019 Big’s Backyard Ultra on Monday, but she has officially been crowned champion of the world by race director Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake). As the first female winner ever, Guterl ended the race that never ends by completing 60 laps and 250 miles (402.3K). She battled it out with Hong Kong-based Kiwi Will Hayward. For over four laps, Guterl and Hayward were the last two remaining until Hayward dropped during the 60th lap. Guterl won with the fourth-highest mileage in Big’s history.
Inspired by Cantrell’s dog Big, The Backyard Ultra tests the mental and physical limits of humans. Runners complete a four mile (6.4K) loop in 60 minutes until one human remains. Each hour, everyone begins the next lap at the same time. Once the second-to-last runner drops, the one remaining must complete the loop they are on in order to win. (There isn’t always a winner.)
In the 2018 race, Guterl placed second female with 183.334 miles (295K) behind Courtney Dauwalter and Johan Steene, in a record-breaking year. With Guterl toeing the line again this year, the ultrarunning world was hopeful something big was going to happen in the backyard. Guterl and Hayward spent four laps as the remaining two runners. By the 59th lap they had achieved some of the biggest mileage in race history, with only Dauwalter, Steene, and Gavin Woody completing more laps.
Fourteen hours earlier, or 46 hours into the race, four runners remained: Canadian Dave Proctor and New Zealand’s Katie Wright. Wright dropped, followed by Proctor, who finished third. He claimed to have the best race of his life, completing 51 laps and 335.9K in 38 hours and 29 minutes on course.
After Amelia Boone dropped at 112 miles (180K), she followed her friend Guterl like it was her job. Boone rooted for her friend on limited sleep. When Guterl finally won, Boone tweeted she didn’t want to leave the backyard and stop hanging out with her friends. Boone helped Guterl to a hotel room following the race, joking on Twitter that she had “only” run 100 miles.