The Quarantine Backyard Ultra was quite possibly the biggest race of 2020 so far, not only garnering attention from runners, but breaking into mainstream media coverage with stories in the New York Times, Washington Post and Sports Illustrated, among many other publications. The race directing team, Gather Virtual, has announced that the race is making a return on July 11, and they hope to make it even better than before. Just like the first time around, the race is free to enter, and it will follow the same last-runner-standing format, which inspired the event’s new tagline: “All will DNF but one.”
Backyard ultra format
The format for the Quarantine Backyard Ultra is simple. The first bell will ring at 7 a.m. MDT on July 11, starting the first lap of many. Runners have an hour to complete each lap, which will be 6.706K.
As was the case in the first event, which was held in April, runners will have the choice to run either inside on their treadmill or outside near their homes. Some runners competing in the April race couldn’t run outside due to coronavirus restrictions in their countries but also didn’t have treadmills, so they ran around inside their homes to complete each lap. It doesn’t matter where athletes run, as long as they cover 6.706K before each hour is up.
All competitors have to video in on Zoom, and this way, once they finish each lap, they can prove they ran the right distance by showing their treadmill or GPS data to the camera. Once an athlete finishes a lap, he or she can rest, eat, or do whatever they like for the remainder of the hour. They just have to make sure to be ready to run when the bell goes at the top of the next hour. The last runner standing is the winner.
Mike Wardian of the U.S. won the first Quarantine Backyard Ultra in a 63-hour-long battle with Czech runner Radek Brunner. Wardian ran 422K to take the win over Brunner, who missed the start of the 63rd lap and was therefore disqualified.
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“A second race wasn’t initially in the cards,” says Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard, one of the members of the Gather Virtual team who helped create and run the Quarantine Backyard Ultra. “Then people started reaching out and lots of people were asking if we’d do it again. They were even asking during the race.”
When they saw that more and more summer races were getting cancelled due to COVID-19, Gillis-Paulgaard says they decided to have another run at the Quarantine Backyard Ultra.
“In a very short time-frame of two weeks, we threw that first race together and kind of crossed our fingers and hoped for the best,” Gillis-Paulgaard says. “We just thought it would be fun and unique.”
Despite the limited time to plan for the first race, they still managed to attract over 2,400 participants from more than 50 countries. Now, they have two months to promote and prepare for the event, and after all the good press the first race received, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra is a name that many people across the world know.
Registration for Part Two of the biggest running sensation of 2020 opens today, and runners can sign up for free here until July 10, 24 hours before the first bell.