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2019 Big Dog Backyard

2019 Big Dog Backyard preview: ‘This is a race to the death’

Typically, when you discuss a sporting event, you marvel over the feats of the athletes. Somehow, they might manage to accomplish the impossible, do something no one has ever done, create a physical expression on par with a masterful painting, poem or novel. In their own way, through endurance, imagination, and talent, they craft a masterpiece.

But when you’re discussing Big Backyard Ultra, the praise must first be heaped upon the race’s designer. Sure, massive props must be given to anyone who actually wins this punishing, annual test of the human capacity for pain in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. But much like when you consider the complex machinations of baseball (9 innings, 27 outs, no clock) or football (two-point conversion or field goal?), you begin to realize that the creation of the sporting event itself is a true thing of beauty.

And so, it is with that knowledge that we can call Gary Cantrell, a.k.a. Lazarus “Laz” Lake the Picasso of pain. And in the note establishing this year’s ground rules, he seems to take particular, defiant pride in his achievement.

“The Backyard Ultra is back for 2019,” he says of the October 19 race, in a page on UltraSignup whose “Align Left” format evokes a kind of cruel haiku. “The concept is simple.”

2019 Big Dog Backyard

So simple, in fact, that it almost feels like a trap from a “Saw” movie. In short, you run. And then you run again and again. And as long as others keep running, you must do the same. The last person running wins the race, everybody else loses. If no one runs one last lap after second-place gives up, guess what? Everybody loses.

It is that distinctive framework that instills such a love/hate relationship with the participants. 

“Have you ever thought that you could not be beaten, if only the faster runners were unable to run away and leave you?” the posting explains, teasing you with the allure of this one-of-a-kind race. “This is your chance to find out. Every surviving runner will be tied for the lead, every hour.”

2019 Big Dog Backyard

Ultimately, every hour is a chance to start anew. At 6:40 on Saturday, October 19 the race will begin, with all participants running around a 4.166667-mile trail in Laz’s backyard. If you don’t finish near the top of the pack, no worries, all you need to do is cross the finish line within an hour. Sure, some might finish with more time to spare – and they get to do whatever they like with that time for recovery – but at 7:40, the madness starts all over again, and you are once again revitalized (or perhaps, cruelly teased) by the notion of being right back in first place with everyone else.

At that point, Big Dog participants become Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” – repeating the same events, in the same spaces, against the same people, time and time again. Each time, it all becomes a little less fun, a little more repetitive, a little more like a punishment. There is no certain point where it will end, and it will inevitably come down to a battle of wills as the final two competitors wearily eyeball each other in a “can we please just end this?” game of chicken.

For that and so many other reasons, this is a race unlike any other. “Brats and chili will be served beginning at 1500 hours and continuing until the finish. Rumor has it, there will be moonshine testing lessons around the campfire,” the site reads as if to underline that point in red ink.

In 2017, Guillaume Calmettes and Harvey Lewis dueled to the point of exhaustion, with Calmettes (listed as a returning participant for 2019) running a total of 245.835 miles in 59 hours. Last year, Johan Steene and Courtney Dauwalter battled for 66 laps before Dauwalter finished their 67th showdown with her slowest lap in three days (53:26); smelling blood in the water, Steene came out for lap 68 and rather than discovering a competitor, he found Dauwalter’s hand extended in capitulated congratulations. 

2019 Big Dog Backyard

Expressing the same sentiment as the Big Dog Backyard description, Steene freely admits that had the race been a traditional one, he would have lost. “If there had been a predestined finish line at Big’s Backyard, my money would have been on Courtney to win, she would beat me at any such race and distance,” he told Trail Runner. “But at the Backyard, you draw your own lines.”

As the race’s description reads: “The Big Backyard will continue until but one man is left standing…no matter how long it takes. This is a race to the death…”

Steene’s grand total was 283.335 miles. The general sense among Big Dog observers is that a 300 mile/72 hour race is going to happen soon. Steene has predicted that someone will do 85 laps soon. Calmettes, meanwhile, has been quoted as saying that it would be “cool” to cross the 100 hours mark. Could this be the year any of those milestones finally fall? 

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Laz Backyard Ultra

Ode to Laz Backyard Ultra

Photo Credit: Ode to Laz Backyard Ultra  

Ever since Lazarus Lake (real name Gary Cantrell) invented the format with the inaugural Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra on his Bell Buckle, Tennessee property in 2012, Backyard Ultras have been cropping up all over the world. Whether they’re officially affiliated, like the international Backyard Ultras offering Big Dog’s Golden Tickets to their winners, or simply inspired by the original, like the Ode to Laz, these races share a set of simple rules:

  • Runners repeat a series of loops around the same course until only one runner remains.
  • Each loop is 4.16667 miles in length.
  • The time limit for each loop is one hour.
  • In between loops, runners wait in the starting corral.
  • Each loop begins exactly one hour after the previous loop.
  • 3, 2, and 1 minute warnings are given prior to the start of a new loop.
  • If a runner does not start a loop on time, they are disqualified.
  • Runners cannot leave the course or receive aid during a loop.
  • The winner is the last runner to complete a loop. All other runners are DNF.
  • If no runner completes one more loop than all other runners, there is no winner.

An Ode to Laz Brings the Format to Michigan

Photo Credit: Ode to Laz Backyard Ultra  

It has only taken 7 years from the original Big Dog’s for the Backyard Ultra format to travel the world. By the end of 2018, similar races had been scheduled as far from Bell Buckle, Tennessee as Dubai, New Zealand, and Norway, but somehow nothing had yet made it onto the calendar a measly 600-miles north to Michigan.

In the spirit of Lazarus Lake, who organized his first race in 1979 because he wanted to run and couldn’t find a local ultra, Tad Machrowicz has taken it upon himself to bring the Backyard Ultra to Michigan.

The Ode to Laz begins on August 3rd at 9am at the Holly State Recreation Area in Holly, Michigan. The race includes two variations on the course. The daytime loop features 300 feet of incline, on 2/3 technical single track and 1/3 moderate walking/hiking path, with a few hundred yards of pavement. Starting at 9pm, runners will switch to the night loop, which features 100-feet of climb on a paved road.

Registration for the Ode to Laz closes on July 31st, but with a 60-participan t cap and 56 registered (as of January 29th), hopeful runners should register on the Ode to Laz registration page as soon as they can.

Costume Contest Adds Retro Twist

Photo Credit: Ode to Laz Backyard Ultra  

The Backyard Ultra format was designed with a simple purpose in mind. Cantrell yearned for simple days gone by, when an ultra was as much a social event among a tight community of runners as it was a race.

If the purpose of the original Backyard Ultra was to revive those days gone by, then “Laz” himself must approve of the one innovation Machrowicz has made to his formula: a second prize awarded to the runner who completes the most laps wearing an outfit inspired by the late 70s (the same era Cantrell founded his first race). Here are the rules, as posted to the official Ode to Laz facebook page:

“You must wear long white socks with colored stripe(s), a terrycloth headband and/or two terrycloth wristbands, and your shorts and shirt better look 70’s. Our race director (and crew of discerning spectators) will make all final judgements.”

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Big’s Backyard: The Last Man Standing

Big's Backyard: The Last Man Standing

YEAR: 2018     LENGTH: 16:47     LOCATIONS: Canada     LANGUAGES: English

An ostensibly simple race, Big’s Backyard Ultra has been described as one of the most mentally and strategically complex races in the world – contestants run a 4.1 mile loop every hour, day or night, nonstop. The last man or woman standing is crowned the victor…

Big’s Backyard Ultra (2018) is the first in-depth look at this legendary event. Viewers explore the mental challenges of several race competitors, and get a rare peak behind-the-scenes with race director Gary “Laz” Cantrell, of Barkley marathon fame.

The film provides insight into the hopes and desires of runners before the event, and reflections on their experiences when the race finally comes to an end. Viewers become familiar with notable figures such as last year’s winner Guillaume Calmettes, the women’s champion Courtney Dauwalter, and Johan Steene, the unlikely but sensational victor and last man standing.

Click here to listen to our conversation with Laz.

MEDIA

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Big’s Backyard

Big’s Backyard Ultra ’18 ReCap

Big’s Backyard Ultra: the ceaseless race has ceased and, after three days and four nights, the results are in; as ever, only one runner remained.

Big’s Backyard Ultra 2018 Re-Cap

For those unfamiliar with the race, click here for info, as well as an interview with one of the course veterans. Click here for full results.

This year’s winner is the returning Swede Johan Steene, whose unlikely victory followed a delayed flight and a long overnight drive in a rental. Johan arrived fifteen minutes before the race, and ran 68 laps for a total of 283 miles.

The sensational Courtney Dauwalter finished in second, with 67 laps and 279 miles.

Just as lap 68 was about to commence, Dauwalter turned to Steene and whispered to him. The two embraced and Steene set pace into the darkness alone to complete his final and victorious lap.

Early Tuesday morning, four days after the race commenced, Steene reflected on his ultimate triumph: “As long as we are at least two remaining there is a feeling of purpose, that this painful game has a meaning. That illusion disappears in a blink when only one remains. The actual winning needs to be the sole focus if that is what you’re after. That focus was feeding me and let me put all other things aside. At the moment when Courtney congratulated me and remained in the coral as I jogged away alone into the Tennessee night I didn’t feel joy. I felt empty and without purpose. You cannot carry the illusion by yourself. It takes at least two to play. Thanks Courtney Dauwalter for taking us this far. We are good at playing this game.”

Stauwalter, Steene, as well as Gavin Woody, have all crushed the course record set by Guillaume Calmettes last year, at 59 laps. After an arduous struggle, Calmettes tapped out due to injury on lap 54 this year. Another course veteran, Harvey Lewis, also dropped out due to injury, in lap four.

This race has quickly become a favorite in the running community. For its strange set up, its “jeerleaders” shouting disparagements continuously, and for the much loved pit bull, Big, the proprietor of the race and Laz’s companion. “[Big] is the only pit bull in the world that hosts a contest where humans fight to the death,” Laz said.

This year’s race was so incredibly energizing, and for so many reasons. To witness the victorious persistence of Johan Steene, who in 2014 left the race prematurely, and who showed up this year’s event already exhausted, was a galvanizing testament to shear will.

To observe Calmettes trample on in pain, cane in hand, was dreadful, yes. Yet it was far more enlivening to witness his composure, and the drastic dash of his last efforts, all to the cheers of his compatriots.

Courtney Dauwalter is a force of character, and one of our sport’s major figures. She is an inspiration to all of us, and especially to women –– for so many of her wins this year are overall wins, overthrows of records of both genders.

Far more light has yet to shine from that star, yet we applaud and congratulate all seventy of this year’s runners. And as do they unto each other, for the endless quarrel that is Big’s is not a race against fellow runners; it is an individual’s race against his or her mind. It is a race against the notion of his or her limits.

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Big's Backyard Ultra

Big’s Backyard Ultra 2018

Big’s Backyard Ultra: inconceivable endurance, seasoned regulars, and an idiosyncratic racing format: this distinctive ultra is a sight to behold.
This Saturday, October 20th,is the (in)famous Big Dog Backyard Ultra, in Bedford County, Tennessee. An ostensibly simple race, Big Dog has been described as one of the most mentally and strategically complex races in the world – contestants run a 4.1 mile loop every hour, day or night, nonstop. The last man or woman standing is crowned the victor.
The race is not so much about competition, since contestants are tied at first at the beginning of every lap. Big Dog is a course in psychological endurance and forward thinking; go too fast, and you’ll wear yourself out precipitously; go too slow, and you might miss the cut-off for the next race. The event is hosted by Lazarus Lake, of Barkley Marathon lore. In fact, the prize for winning Big Dog is a spot in Barkley.
IRun4Ultra got a chance to speak with Guillaume Calmettes, last year’s winner, before the race. For his 2017 victory, Guillaume ran 246 miles. To put that in perspective, that’s 59 loops, and 59 hours, of running…
Click here [link] to listen to our conversation about the race, Guillaume’s life in Los Angeles, and the role that running plays in Guillaume’s life.
Also of interest: click here to see Guillaume’s inspiring running stats, or here to see his results from last year’s race.
 
 

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World Championships

Preview: Camille Herron, Courtney Dauwalter lead the pack for 24 Hour World Championships

It’s no secret that ultra-running has been growing in popularity for some time now, so in some ways, it seems only natural that interest in the sport would splinter off into other subsections under the ultra-running umbrella. Of course, races like the Iditarod and the Big Backyard Ultra proudly take the concept of a long-distance race, break it down and flip it on its head. Then there’s another rapidly-growing obsession, fueled by some recent record-setting efforts: The 24-hour race.

This past December, 36-year-old Camille Herron ran around a high school track in Phoenix, Arizona as many times as possible for 24 consecutive hours – finishing after 162.9 miles and establishing a new world record by about two miles. Less than a year later, Zach Bitter took to an indoor track in Milwaukee to make history, setting the world record by running 104.8 miles in 12 hours – almost as an afterthought following his obliteration of the fastest 100-mile run record. 

Although many athletes have been proudly running in circles for years, there suddenly seems to be renewed interest in such offshoots of ultra-marathoning. It makes a lot of sense, then that the upcoming 2019 IAU 24 Hour World Championships is boasting increased numbers – and participation from folks like Courtney Dauwalter and Herron.

World Championships

“Based on provided data we are expecting to have 363 athletes from 45 countries (38 for women and 44 for men),” the International Association of Ultra-runners says in a statement dated September 27. “This is a 26% improvement comparing to the last Championship in Belfast in 2017. With respect to individual distribution, it will be 153 women and 210 men. It is another improvement comparing to the last Championships of almost 19% and over 32% respectively.”

Set for October 26-27, this year’s 24 Hour World Championships will take place in Albi, France. It is one of the IAU’s four main world championship events (along with the 100km World Championships, the Trail World Championships, and the 50km World Championships) and the only one based on a time format rather than distance. Currently, the event’s standing records belong to USA’s Michael Morton (277.543 kilometers, in 2012) and Japan’s Mami Kudo (252.205 kilometers in 2013).  

World Championships

Episcopal city and birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi has a population that hovers around 50,000 and a humid subtropical climate. Operating as the world governing body of ultra-running, the IAU regulates and sanctions ultra-marathon championships and tracks records.

Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them tracking some new ones later this month. For starters, Camille Heron will be working to improve the incredible pace of 8:03/mile that she maintained in December when she set her records (she also captured the women’s world record for running 100 miles on a track). 

“I’m coming from a marathon background, so I know it’s hard to wrap your head around running 100K, and then 100 miles, and than 24 hours,” Herron, who ate a Taco Bell Double-decker taco and a beer at 2 am in the middle of her record-setting performance, told OutsideHow Camille Herron Set a 24-Hour Running Record“. “I really had to work with my husband and coach, Conor, to think about what I might experience while running through the night and dealing with sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and nutritional needs. There are all these things you have to deal with on top of the actual running part. It’s more about your mind than your legs. It’s trying to will the legs to keep turning over through sleep deprivation. My legs just started getting really stiff and I was doing wind sprints just to try and keep my legs turning over.”

World Championships

Although she may be the record holder, Herron will be competing with more than just herself in Albi. Courtney Dauwalter continues to cement a career of near-legendary proportions, having recently won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In 2018, she finished 2nd overall in the Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra and also broke the women’s course record for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Dauwalter is perhaps best known, however, for her breakthrough performance in the Moab 240 race – her 2 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes were faster than any man in the pack and she finished more than 10 hours in front of the second-place finisher. 

Unfortunately, Zach Bitter will not be participating – but since she holds the record for a fastest 24-hour race among both men and women, any of the other 362 athletes hoping to dethrone Herron will be able to challenge her (and, perhaps, take a few notes) in person.

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With Western States, Courtney Dauwalter closes out a stunning year

As the summer officially descends upon us, the ultra-running community is asking itself one question: Which will be hotter in the next few months, the temperature on the trail or Courtney Dauwalter?

For those paying attention, the Colorado-based 34-year-old has strung together twelve months of running that are becoming the stuff of legend. It began with a dominant Western States 100 win in June of 2018 that was more than 2 hours faster than the 2017 Women’s winner. Now, as the Western States is on us once again, observers are left wondering how she’ll bookend this year of dominance.

Will she beat everyone at the Western States, both female and male? It certainly seems possible, as she has done exactly that in nearly a dozen other ultras, and last year’s 17:27:00 time would have made her competitive with many past male winners. Will she turn the race into a laugher? Also possible, as a 240-miler in Moab, Utah once had Dauwalter finishing 10 hours ahead of second place.

For many athletes, winning the Western States and then training for the next would be enough. But in between the two, the former high school science teacher has never stopped running — or winning.

A few weeks after the Western States, she ran a 50 miler in Squamish, British Columbia. She then returned to Colorado for the Continental Divide Trail Run a week later, finishing first in the 50K. 

Those were likely just warm-ups, however, for the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run, which took place in September. All she did was destroy the previous women’s record by 18 hours, running a race whose requirement is that it be finished in 100 hours — while doing it in less than half that.

Then came Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra. Taking place in October, Dauwalter made headlines by covering a distance of 279 miles in three days. The brutal Tennessee-based event has one basic rule, as simple as it is punishing: The last one running wins. After 68 hours of running without sleep, she found herself alone with male competitor Johan Steene, ultimately settling for second place.

After taking a break for the holidays and admittedly doing a lot of sitting, Dauwalter roared back in February with New Zealand’s Tarawera Ultra. Posting a start-to-finish women’s win, she dominated the 102 km race and celebrated her 34th birthday shortly thereafter.

Next up was March’s Behind the Rocks Ultra in Moab (1st place), April’s Madeira Island Ultra-Trail (1st place) and June’s Mueller Marathon in Divide, Colorado (also 1st place).

Dauwalter has indicated that, following this year’s Western States, she has plans to tackle many other big races and give the 24-Hour World Championships another shot. The next question on the minds of observers, then, seems to be an obvious one: Could her upcoming 12 months be even more impressive?

Photo credit @ Lavaredo Ultra Trail 

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The Race is on for Big Dog’s Golden Tickets

Gary Cantrell (or Lazarus Lake, to some) began organizing endurance races in 1979, when he founded Tennessee’s Strolling Jim 40 because he wanted to run and couldn’t find a local ultra. He and his races have become a fixture in the ultra running community since then, and his Barkley Marathons has become known as one of the most famously creative, and infamously difficult racing events in the world.

Photo Credit : Gary Cantrell

As the sport grew around him, Cantrell felt that the events themselves had suffered. Where each race had once been a major social event amongst a tight community of runners, now the participants were all in a hurry to get to the next thing, too busy to stop and chat.

Perhaps it was longing for this sense of community that inspired Cantrell to host the first Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra on his own Bell Buckle, Tennessee property in 2012. Since then, it’s been one of the most coveted starting lines in endurance running, with a full field every year, and wait lists so long that dozens of imitators have sprung up across the globe to meet the demand.

The Rules

  • The “Backyard Ultra” concept is as appealingly simple as the race is appallingly difficult:
  • Runners repeat a series of loops around the same course until only one runner remains.
  • Each loop is 4.16667 miles in length.
  • The time limit for each loop is one hour.
  • In between loops, runners wait in the starting corral.
  • Each loop begins exactly one hour after the previous loop.
  • 3, 2, and 1 minute warnings are given prior to the start of a new loop.
  • If a runner does not start a loop on time, they are disqualified.
  • Runners cannot leave the course or receive aid during a loop.
  • The winner is the last runner to complete a loop. All other runners are DNF.
  • If no runner completes one more loop than all other runners, there is no winner.

In the 2018 edition, Johan Steele of Stockholm, Sweden lasted 68 loops and 68 hours, outlasting Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, Colorado to set the race record (Dauwalter’s 67 loops was good for second in course history).

Golden Tickets

On the race’s official Facebook page, Cantrell, posting as Lazarus Lake, has made no secret about his distaste for narrowing down the applications into a practical field of competitors. His commitment to ensuring that the most deserving athletes are able to participate, combined with the growing popularity of “Backyard Ultra” race format, has led to another interesting solution.

For the 2019 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, 10 registration slots (“Golden tickets”) have been held for the winners of several affiliated international events that follow the same format. The list was posted to the event’s Facebook page earlier this year, but, as with anything Cantrell, the informal nature of the list means that it may be subject to sudden change.

  • Dubai: 02/02/19: Desert Trail Backyard Ultra
  • Ireland: 02/16/19: Last One Standing
  • Norway: 03/22/19: Ostmarka Backyard Ultra
  • Denmark: 03/22/19: Great Dane Backyard Ultra
  • Hong Kong: 04/19/19: Big Boar’s Backyard Challenge
  • New Zealand: 05/03/2019: Riverhead Backyard Relaps
  • England: 06/08/19: Last One Standing
  • Australia: 06/15/19: Mirrim Wurnit Backpaddock Ultra
  • Germany: 06/20/19: Bienwald Backyard Ultra
  • Sweden: 07/06/19: Sydkusten Backyard Ultra

In addition to the 10 international entries, two golden tickets have been held for the highest mileage winners from this set of North American affiliates.

Florida: 02/09/19: Death at Dupuis Canal Backyard Ultra
Ohio: 03/23/19: The Ohio Backyard
California: 04/12/19: Embrace the SUC Backyard Ultra
Texas: 04/13/19: The Game Backyard UItra
Ohio: 05/05/19: Bob’s Big Timber Backyard Ultra
North Salem, NY: 06/21/19: Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra
Alberta: 06/21/19: Outrun Backyard Ultra

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IRUN4ULTRA’s 2018 Recap

What an amazing year 2018 has been as the race gods have graced us with dramatic outcomes, with stories of tremendous triumphs, impressive personal bests as well as heartbreaking defeats. Lets do a quick refresher of the 2018 and relive some of those moments.

Hurt 100

Click Here to Hurt 100 Movie

The year kicked off with Hurt 100 in January. Set in beautiful Honolulu Hawaii, Hurt is one of the worlds toughest 100 mile races, with less than 50% of the participants finishing every year. In 2018, in addition to the extremely difficult course, physical and mental challenges, the race saw early drama in the form of the “Nuclear Missile Threat”. While the threat turned out to be a dud, what shone through was the perseverance of the runners who didn’t let the fear of a mere nuclear missile get between them and the trails. This year was Avery Collin’s year. A favorite from the start, Avery finished with an impressive 21:44:00 followed by Guillaume Calmettes coming in second and Masazumi Fujioka third with 24:00:35 and 24:03:34. For the women, Darcy Piceu came first and finished strong with 25:48:27. Becky Bates was second with 27:33:07 and Sabrina Stanley with 29:45:04 . But other than that, this race is special because of the special Hurt Ohana. The people who make up the race who are there to encourage you and help you push through even when you are ready to give up.

kley 100

Click Here to Barkley 100 clip

In Frozen Head State Park, in Tennessee, runners from around the world line up before the Barkley Marathon to test not only their physical strength but also their mental capacity. Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell makes the race extra challenging by with no maps provided, clues to solve and navigate along the way, treacherous forests with unpredictable weather, torrential rain and fog means that the runners don’t really compete against each other….they take on the course and this year the course won. None of the runner could complete the five 20 miles loop. Garry Robbins (23:05:35) came the closest completing 2 loops on time. Only four others including Guillaume Calmettes and Ally Beaven, a mountain runner from Scotland started a third loop along with Robbins. Many other ntable trail runners like Amelia Boone, ultrarunner Jamil Coury, and Michael Wardian did not manage to finish the second loop.

Black Canyon

Click Here to Black Canyon Clip

On Feb 16th, Aravaipa Running’s Black Canyon 100K, a WS golden ticket qualifier took pace in in the foothills of Bradshaw Mountains. For the men 2018 was Tim Ferrick’s year – 8:53:33, followed by Juan Moran 8:53:35 and Kanoa King – 9:10:38. The women put forth and impressive performance as well with Ailsa MacDonald taking the win with 8:53:33 and Courtney Dauwalter taking silver with 9:18:33. 2018 was Courtney’s year and we see much more from her as time goes by.

Lake Sonoma 50K

Click Here to Lake Sonoma 50k clip

Next came Lake Sonoma 50K. This extremely popular 50K was blessed with gorgeous sunny weather typical of California. The race is 86% single track and 9% dirt roads which were dominated by Jim Walmsley (5:51:16) and Keely Henninger (7:13:55) who were ahead of the pack from the get go. While Jim set a new course record, Keely narrowly missed the women’s course record. This race is also the final race in the Altra Golden Ticket Series where entries can be earned into the Western States 100. In addition to Jim and Keeny…Jared Hazen (6:18:10), Taylor Nowlin (7:44:52) and Camelia Mayfield (7:45:55) accepted their golden tickets.

Western States 2018

Click Here to Western States 2018 movie

Western States 2018 was Jim Walmsley’s year. After a couple of failed attempts to win, Jim not only won but shattered previous race records with a time of 14:30:04, refusing to listen to people’s advice on pacing. In his usual breakneck speed from the get go, Jim enthralled all following this historic race. Francois Dhaene (15:54:53) and

Mark Hammond (16:08:59) to take 2nd and third. The women’s race was dramatic as well, Courtney Duawalter came first for women and over 12th with a time of 17:27:00. Kaytlyn Gerbin (18:40:19) and young Australian Lucy Bartholomew (18:59:45) took the gold and silver. This year was was witness to amazing performances, new records, hot weather and fast times!

Hardrock 100

Click Here to Hardrock 100 clip

This was the silver Jubilee for Hardrock 100. Hailed as one of the most fun filled races, it doesn’t disappoint with the course, difficulty or drama. This year saw the first DQ of front runner Xavier Thévenard for receiving aid outside an aid station. Resulting in Jeff Browning  (26:20:21) snatching the gold. Jeff Rome (26:34:33) and Troy Howard (27:09:39) took the next two spots. For the women, Sabrina Stanley put forth an impressive performance the whole race. It was her year for sure! Nikki Kimball ( 32:18:35) and Darla Askew (32:52:30) followed fo second and third place.

Badwater Salton Sea

Click here to Badwater Salton sea clip

2018’s Badwater Salton sea saw 36 teams participate. This 81 mile track tests the best and this year Walker Higgins emerged victorious and Dan McHugh came second, both with the time of 15:36:00. For the women, Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo killed it with a time of 18:27:00 and took first place.

Badwater 135

Click here to Badwater 135 clip

Badwater 135 is regarded as one of the world toughest footraces covering 135 miles non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. This demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet and this year Michele Graglia (24:51:47) and Brenda Guajardo (28:23:10) beat the elements to come first. Jared Fetterolf and Don Reichet plus Pam Smith and Micah Morgan took second and third for the men and women respectively.

Penyagolosa 2018

Click here to Penyagolosa 2018 clip

Penyagolosa 2018 Trail World Championships gold went to Spain’s Luis Alberto
Hernando 8:38:35 and The Netherlands’s Ragna Debats  9:55:00. The race began in Castellón de la Plana, Spain and featured some unique and mixed terrain. Two time defending champ Luis initially shadowed the front of the pack in the first half, only to dominate in the second while Ragna dominated the whole way.

Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2018

Click here to Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2018 clip

Elite and amateur trail runners from all over the world compete for 5,800-meter elevation gain departing from Corso, Italia. Magnificent and Dolomite landscapes make the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2018 a race to behold. This year USA’s Hayden Hawks 12:16:20 won, but it wasn’t easy by any means. He crossed the finish line and his discomfort and pain finally took over. Pau Capell 12:20:22 and Tim Tollefson 12:44:44 took second and third respectively. For the women Kelly Wolf (USA) 14:37:00, Miao Yao (CHN) 14:52:04 and Kathrin Götz (SUI) 15:03:04 won gold silver and bronze.

IAU 100k World Championships

Click Here to IAU 100k World Championships clip

This year the Croatian town of Sveti Martin na Muri hosted the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships.  Japan’s Hideaki Yamauchi became the two time Champion with a time of 6:28:05. In the women’s race, Croatia’s Nikolina Šustić won with a steady pace and time of 7:20:34. This year the race was not flat like is has been in the past, but the runners got to experience te gorgeous Croatian hill landscape. Second and third places were earned by Takehiko Gyoba – 6:32:51 and Bongmusa Mthembu  – 6:33:47 for the men and Nele Alder-Baerens (Germany) – 7:22:41 and Mai Fujisawa (Japan) – 7:39:07 for the women.
Tor des Géants
TDG is a 330k multi day race with difficult steep elevation. This race takes place all over the Aosta Valley, Italyfinishes at Courmayeur France. The  course must be completed in less than 150 hours and this year Franco Colle (74:03:00), Galen Reynolds (74:40:36), and Peter Kienzl (77:31:11) took the top three positions in a hard fought race. Women’s Silvia Trigueros (87h50m) displayed great form and won in a dominating style. Silvia is alsothe first woman to take TDG gold.

UTMB

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The Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)

UTMB is by far one of the most beautiful, challenging and dynamic races we have, having the runner cross 3 countries through the Alps. This year France’s Xavier Thévenard  – 20:44:16 took home his third gold while Italy’s Francesca Canepa – 26:03:48
scored her first win at UTMB 2018. Romanian runner Robert Hajnal -21:31:37 had had a great performance and took second, while Spain’s Jordi Gamito took third with 21:57:01. For the women Uxue Fraile returned from a major injury – 26:08:07
to take second and France’s Jocelyne Pauly, after a hard fought battle came a close third with 26:15:11.

Kodiak 100

In its 7th year, Kodiak 100 takes place in in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California at an elevation of 7,000. With epic views and tremendous climbs, runners get to challenge themselves while enjoying the scenery. Robby Hass came first with 9:31:09 for men and Rachel Hallum-Montes for twomen with a time of 10:52:48.

Javelina Jundred

Javelina Jundred

A bunny hops by on the Javelina 2018 trail.

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The Javelina Jundred is a costumed 100 mile trail run party that appropriately takes place around halloween. In its 17th edition the race is held on a 20 mile rolling single track trail course comprised mostly of the Pemberton Trail in beautiful McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fountain Hills, Arizona. In 2018 this social run was won by Patrick Reagan (15:39:33) for men and Darcy Piceu (18:49:06) for women.

Cappadocia

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Cappadocia, Turkey is a unique natural wonder with fairy chimneys and unique historical and cultural heritage of the silk roads for trade. Now this site host a unique ultra that leave runners spellbound by the beauty. This year Cappadocia Ultra-TrailAndrea MACCHI came first with 11:12:34 followed by Marcus SCOTNEY 11:31:34 and Harry JONES 12:18:40. For the women the podium was earned by Maria MITEVA NIKOLOVA 13:14:29, Kalanova ALEXANDRA 13:25:28 and Francesca CANEPA 13:42:15.

Big’s Backyard Ultra

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Another race put on by Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, it stays true to the torturous nature he is known for. 100 runners running a single loop measuring 4.16 miles in an hour over and over again till there is just one left. This year that was  Johan Steene, 40, of Stockholm, Sweden completing 283.335 miles. But Courtney Dauwalters performance is worth mentioning as she came second with 270.83 miles. Cruel race yes, but addictive for sure!

Desert Solstice

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This year was Camille Herron’s year! Not only did she smash records wit her performance, but she did it with style. Herron broke the Women’s World Record for 24 Hours with a distance of 162.9 miles, the event’s best performance. Herron also claimed the 100 mile American Track Record for Women, with a time of 13:25:00. Herron also gave IRUN4Ultra an interview where she talked about her performance and her desire to run at a fast past. Other notable performances include Oswaldo Lopez, who has established a new 24 Hour Men’s Record for Mexico with a distance of 139.6 miles, and Andrew Snopes, who ran 144 miles barefoot. Greg Armstrong, coming in third, also completed his 155 mile run in Teva sandals! Some notable participants had to call it early for injury and fatigue, such as Courtney Dauwalter and Zach Bitter.

Limone Skyrunning

Link to Limone Skyrunning

This race sees 29K of real skyrunning with a 2.500 meter vertical climb.Starting and finishing in the beautiful Lungolago Marconi in Limone sul Garda does not disappoint with its difficulty. For the men it was Davide Magnini (ITA) – 2h59’24”, Rémi Bonnet (SUI) – 3h0414” and Oriol Cardona Coll (ESP) – 3h06’07” for top three. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h31’36”, Ragna Debats (NED) – 3h40’07” and Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 3h45’28 took the podium for the women.

ZEGAMA AIZKORRI 2018

Zegama is part of the golden trail series and this year was its most competitive by far! This year was exceptionally steep and muddy and Ida Nilsson (Sweden) won with 4:38 win.Second-place Laura Orgué  (Spain) followed in 4:45, and Ruth Croft (New Zealand) was third in 4:48.  For the men Rémi Bonnet (Switzerland) ousted defending champ and course-record holder Stian Angermund (Norway) to win. 23 year old Bonnet finished in 3:53, beating Angermund’s 3:55 by exactly 90 seconds for a nailbitting finish!

Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run

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Taking place in California’s Angeles National Forest, the course was originally designed to be a challenging 30-hour course, but due to its difficulty, the official cut-off time is set to 33 hours. This year was Rene Dorantes year, winning with a time of 19:23:04. Darcy Piceu won the women’s with 22:17:41. This has been a good year for Darcy with multiple wins under her belt.

JFK 50

First held in 1963, JFK 50 Mile was a 50 mile event held as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness. In that tradition it continues today starting in the town of Boonsboro, Maryland, and heads east out of town toward the South Mountain Inn. This year Jared Hazen (5:34:21) won for the men and Kate Pallardy (6:40:34) for the women. Zach Miller came second. The current course records are held by Jim Walmsley (5:21:29) for men and Ellie Greenwood (6:12:00) for women.

All in all it was a great 2018 for us here at IRUN4ULTRA. We covered many races, saw many hearts break with losses and a larger number of triumphant wins, on and off the podium. Can’t wait to see that 2019 has in store for us. Happy trails!

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