On June 5, U.K. ultrarunner John Stocker ran more than 337 miles (542 kilometres) in 81 hours (laps) at the Suffolk Backyard Ultra. Fellow runner Matt Blackburn completed 80 laps before dropping out, running more than 316 miles (508 kilometres). Both runners beat the previous world record, set by Belgium’s Karl Sabbe at the Big’s Backyard Ultra last October, where he ran 75 and 502K, by more than 50 kilometres.
Blackburn pulled out during the 81st lap, leaving Stocker to complete the final 4.167 mile (6.7K) lap on his own, since no winner can be declared if the final runner standing doesn’t complete the lap within the hour. This was the first Backyard Ultra to be held in England, and race director Lindley Chambers told the BBC he was not expecting such astonishing results.
“I knew we had the calibre of people taking part and I personally thought we’d do 50 or 60 loops,” he said in an interview, “but these guys have gone beyond my expectation and have gone further than anyone else in the world competing in this format.”
According to Chambers, 35-year-old Blackburn and 41-year-old Stocker were completing the laps in 45 to 50 minutes, giving them 10 to 15 minutes to rest and refuel before heading off for the next loop. Blackburn finally rang the bell to signal he could not go on after completing 333.3 miles (536.4K), while Stocker continued on to complete the 81st lap. In recognition of his accomplishment, Stocker received a small trophy and a “No DNF” moment for being the only participant not to register a “Did Not Finish”, while Blackburn, despite also breaking the world record, received a small dog tag engraved with the words “I gave it my all and came up short”.