Karel Sabbe won the race with no end by running for 75 hours, 502km, around a 6.7km loop. Sabbe’s victory came down firstly to a national battle between the US and Belgium, then a one-on-one duel with fellow Belgian Merijn Geerts. The diabolical Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra is one of the most mind-boggling concepts in running. Participants have one hour to complete a 6.7km loop. They can go as fast or as slow as they like, so long as they are at the start line at the beginning of the next hour. Participants keep going until there is just one runner left. This year, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, there were 21 simultaneous Backyard Ultras the world over, with over 300 runners. The winner of each race was only allowed to complete one more lap than the second-placed runner, and then each race ended locally. So, for a nation to be crowned world champions it effectively came down to a battle of second place runners. The final four were Courtney Dauwalter and Harvey Lewis in Tennessee, and Sabbe and Geerts in Belgium. They were left circling their tracks after Mexico, the third last nation standing, dropped out at 64 hours. Lewis dropped out after 67 hours. He headed out on his 68th loop but soon returned hallucinating. Dauwalter finished her 68th to claim the US title. But the overall victory then lay in the hands of the Belgian pair, who continued in a duel for seven more hours. The local race organiser said the pair had been working together because they knew when one dropped out, the other would have to as well. “But now the game begins,” the organiser said. Sabbe and Geerts headed out on the 75th lap, but Geerts could not finish in the allotted time. “Actually, the one before, I couldn’t run in the beginning. I couldn’t even walk fast. I limped for 10 or 15 minutes and I thought it was over,” Geerts said. “I phoned my wife and she convinced me to try, so I did some fast kilometres, but I think I broke everything that wasn’t broken yet. The last one was the same, but I couldn’t do the same effort.” Sabbe said: “The first three days, I saw him [Geerts] often, but the last day I was running 43-minute loops and slept for 12 minutes, while he was going at a slower pace. I think the problem was that the first two or three nights he barely slept. I started sleeping on the first night.” The 43-minute pace was fast and most others who set that time did not last much more than a day. “I started way slower but it hurt more to hike than run,” Sabbe said. “Running felt OK. I was less tired and I could sleep a little bit. But when I started hiking my feet started hurting a little bit.” US champion Dauwalter has pedigree – she finished second in 2018, running for 67 hours. It was the longest any woman had gone and the second longest anyone had lasted. This year, she was determined to keep pushing. She matched the previous record set by Johan Steele. Posted by Courtney Dauwalter on Monday, 19 October 2020 Dauwalter looked fresh and happy at the end of her 68th lap, waved for the camera and went to look for Lewis to congratulate him. It looked like she could have kept running for a lot longer had Lewis not dropped out. “So where’s the beer?” Dauwalter asked.