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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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