We’ve seen some pretty crazy quarantine running feats since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, like Gary Robbins‘ 100-mile treadmill run or Mike Wardian‘s 422K virtual race win. Now, there’s another item to add to the list: South African Ryan Sandes ran 1,463 laps of a 110-metre loop around and through his house in Cape Town for a grand total of 100 miles with 4,500m of climbing. He called it his #HomeRun challenge, and it took him over 26 hours to complete.
.@ryansandes took on a run from home this week which he completed in 26 hours and 27 minutes, concluding at 100 miles, 4500 metres of vertical ascent, and 1463 laps. Congratulations! ♥ #HomeRun #StayHomeSA pic.twitter.com/K8e1IbZQFn
— Red Bull South Africa (@RedBullZA) April 18, 2020
Sandes’ 2020 season
Sandes has had a lot of successes in his running career, including a win at the Western States 100 in 2017, second- and fourth-place finishes on the Ultra-Trail World Tour in 2014 and 2016, an FKT (fastest known time) on the Great Himalaya Trail and many other race wins and podium finishes. He unfortunately didn’t get a chance to race in 2020 before COVID-19 put the season on hold.
“My main focus for this year is the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, but this is looking highly unlikely now,” he says. The #HomeRun might be Sandes’ biggest run for a while, especially since Cape Town has strict quarantines rules in place.
“It’s been really tough as we’re only allowed to leave our homes for emergencies and to go to the shops,” he says. “I’ve therefore not been able to do that much running and have resorted to running short 100-metre laps at my home.”
The home run
“Running 100 miles is my favourite distance to race,” Sandes says. “I think it’s the ultimate physical and mental challenge, and I thought that running this at home would be pretty wild.” His route started with a flight of 23 stairs, and from there, he ran along his driveway, around his house and into his dining room, where he had an aid station with food, gels and cans of Red Bull. He switched directions every 20 minutes or so to avoid injuries.
Sandes started his run at 1 a.m. on April 16 and finished 26 hours and 27 minutes later. He says it was very mentally trying, due to the stop-start nature of the run and being at home with his family.
“At around the 70K mark I hit a really bad patch,” he says. “Mentally I felt tired and it was hard to focus.” He says the last quarter of the run was extra difficult. “I started getting disorientated and it was really hard to focus. It felt like I was running on the spot.”
His wife and son were his support crew throughout the run, and his neighbours showed him support, too, cheering him on as he passed in front of his house. He says his family helped him get through the tough, low stints during the run.
The recovery process
At the 2019 Western States 100, where Sandes placed 11th overall, he covered the 100-mile course in just over 16 hours. He’s used to running much faster than he did for his at-home ultra, and because of this, he says his recovery has gone well.
“My body and legs felt quite good after the run, as it was really slow-moving,” he says. He was very mentally fatigued afterward, though, and he says his eyes hurt “due to running from dark to light every 50 or 60 metres” in and out of his house. It was a long, tough challenge, but it isn’t necessarily his last.
“I told myself I would never do that again once I finished, as it was pretty brutal,” he says. “But never say never.”