Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra is due to take place in 19 countries simultaneously. The race that is usually held in Tennessee has made adjustments due to travel restrictions.
The race format is unique and its infamy lies in its mind-numbing difficulty. Participants complete a 6.7km loop. They have to start a loop on the hour every hour or they are disqualified. The race keeps going until there is just one runner left. The longest anyone has gone to date is 68 hours.
In a normal year, there are qualifying races around the world. A few other runners are also invited by Lazarus Lake, the race organiser famed for hosting the Barkley Marathon.
“Sometimes you have to be like the little wind-up car, that goes hell for leather until it hits a wall,” Lake wrote on Facebook. “Then it backs up and takes off in a new direction. This year is one of those times.
“With the Big's as the backyard world championship, about 75 per cent of our field was going to come from out of country. But there is some kind of a bug going around. Possibly you have heard about it. So none of those people were going to be able to come.”
Instead, there will be 19 races of 15 runners held simultaneously across the world, starting on October 17, at 7am (Tennessee time).
The races will be in Canada, Ireland, Australia, Russia, Sweden, Germany, the UAE, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Finland, France, Singapore, Philippines, Israel, Spain, Denmark and the US.
“What is the certainty of all these events happening? Did I mention the bug that has been going around? Nothing is certain these days, but we are planning for these to happen as long as they are allowed,” Lake wrote.
The races will be streamed online. Lake laments the fact the runners will not be able to compete face to face and “look the next man in the eye, and gauge what he has left in his legs and his heart”, but needs must.
In April, there was an online backyard ultra open to all. It was hosted via a stream and runners did loops in their own neighbourhoods, tracks or even running machines. But it differs in the sense that this time there will be set locations and the quality of runners will be high from the start.
“They will truly be the last man on earth,” Lake added.