Quarantine Backyard Ultra

COVID-19 has caused havoc and put a stop to many marathons and races all over the world. Let's change things up backyard ultra style.

Quarantine Backyard Ultra

This thing called COVID-19 has caused havoc and put a stop to many marathons and races all over the world. I’m sure there are many of you out there who have lost out on trip expenses in the lead up to these races. Our team at the Klub were very much looking forward to the West Macs Monster with David Turnbull racing, Nagano Marathon in Japan for Brett Hillier, Nathan just looking to head back home from Devon where he is presently stuck and Federico is just wanting to be free to be outside again in Barcelona.

Wherever you are, you are not alone in going Iso-crazy.

So while the world is shutting down one country at a time, we have ingenious businesses and people stepping up to the mark. With one company in particular Person Peak creating a free platform for people to register and run their very own big backyard style race. Free because well, why not. Please visit: https://personalpeak.ca/quarantinebackyard/

The rules of the race are very simple at the bell, 7 am Calgary time (9 pm Western Australian Time, or midnight for those of you in Melbourne & Sydney) run 6.706 km/4.167 miles anywhere within the hour. You can use a treadmill, your own backyard, around your block. Once complete, show your watch or treadmill distance to the camera on Zoom to register your lap then you are free to rest, nap, eat until the next hour where you do it all again. These styles of races are not about being the fastest or the strongest. They are about endurance, your pace and energy output, your nutrition and mostly importantly your mindset and goal. If you do not have a personal goal set in place for one of these races you can very easily lose your way and retire early.

Mike Wardian

The Quarantine Backyard Ultra, had 2411 participants. With people from all over the world. This race is really one of a kind and could possibly be the way forward at the moment. At the time of writing this the entrants are on lap 44 with Anna Carlsson running around a frozen lake in sub zero temperatures, Radek Brunner on his treadmill in Czech Republic and Mike Wardian running in the rain in Virginia. They have successfully ran 183 miles!! What an achievement. The YouTube streaming is a bit hit and miss with the start of lap 45 dropping out. Good old Lazarus of the Big Backyard is regularly providing updates.

Lazarus lake

So it’s a waiting game to see how the athletes will fare after lap 45…

In the meantime let’s see how the final 20 got on. Greg Armstong from Tennessee on his treadmill dropped out after lap 43. Keeping in mind that means he was running for 43 hours. Such an achievement. Before him the list is as follows;

Matthieu Weiner (Pennsylvania) completed 42 laps

Scott Martin (Oregon) & Matt Sheppard (Alberta) 41 laps

Mark Manz ( Wantagh) and Alex Fenn, 40 laps

John Cash (Missouri), Michael Owen (Ohio), James Baetz (Wisconsin) & Jon Noll (Wisconsin) 39 laps

Gabe Rainwater (Ohio) 38 laps

Harvey Lewis (Ohio) 35 laps

Bob Hearn (California) 34 laps

Kevin Baratta (British Columbia) and Sarah Moore (Michigan) 33 laps.

The insane thing is some of these people were or are running around in literal circles. Sheppard we understand was running 25 meter loops of a coffee shop, Brunner, Armstrong, Baetz, Noll and Wiener were pretty much hamsters on treadmills and the rest just out running a loop that they have mapped out. See this YouTube footage for footage of laps 37 to 43 Quarantine Backyard Ultra Finale 2. There was also footage lap 43 to 44 however Youtube has removed some of the old links.

With this being a global event even the climate was extreme. From Anna Carlsson running laps in the Arctic Circle round a frozen lake to Brunner on a treadmill in Czech Republic and Wardian in the rain. The caliber of this group is highly impressive.

Anna Carlsson

This blog is becoming a running commentary, lap 45 is done and dusted. The three are into lap 46. Anna is starting this lap in a snow storm, her team has run out of gas for the generator so her laptop has died and as such her Zoom link too, Mike Wardien is just running hoping his family tunes in and Radek is back on his hamster wheel. The team at Personal Peak are engaging in an ongoing battle with YouTube to try to get a live link back up and running.

After lap 46 Anna had to leave the warmth of her cabin and run around the frozen lake once more but this time in a snow storm. The winds proved too much for her to continue in lap 47 so she bowed out. Leaving Mike and Radek, both seemed to be in high spirits on completing lap 47. Some playful banter about them having the luxury of enjoying each other’s company for 48 hours. Radek’s response was he has another two day’s up his sleeve and he’s not going anywhere any time soon. So here we are, 48 hours down the road, 321.89 km/200.02 miles checked off.

Who will win is anyone’s guess. Radek looks way too comfortable in his chair after each lap and finishes with 20 minutes up his sleeve each time. Mike Wardian, paces himself a little slower. So is this a tactical move or just experience from the bearded American?

Radek Brunner

We are into a new day or night depending on which way you look at it. 62 hours in the bank, 415.77 km/258.35 miles done and dusted. Both look seemingly fresh and definitely don’t look like they have been running for 61 hours! Heading into the 63rd lap and it’s 5:00 am for Radek running into a new day, 10:00 pm for Mike running into another night.

On the bell we hit a technical hurdle, the suspense in the final hour had been intense. It appears that Radek while on his treadmill at the bell failed to hit start. We are unsure if it was a technical glitch at his end or on the Zoom stream. However the end result is that due to him not starting the treadmill on the bell he has been disqualified. The live feed was bombarded with many opinions and comments by all. The Race Directors at Personal Peak Endurance had an incredibly tough call to make. The result 40 minutes into the hour after Mike ran an epic ‘last lap’ was Mike Wardian to be declared the winner. When the live feed ended Radek was still running on his treadmill after stopping to take a phone call mid lap. There is always two sides to ending an event, the questions being asked was Radek’s clock accurate? Did he hit start but the treadmill not engage? Should the Race Director’s let the athlete talk the scenario out as Mike Wardian was keen to continue? So many what if’s and with the live feed down we are yet to hear from Radek Brunner himself.

Regardless of the outcome, Radek Brunner running on a treadmill and Mike Wardian running the same neighborhood loop for 62 hours, covering 415 km is crazy. They have had to endure minimal company throughout with very little sleep and rest. These two incredible human beings have shown the world what the mind and body is truly capable of. Massive congratulations to them both and we hope to see these two battle it out once more, perhaps there will be a rematch at the next Big Backyard. Surely they are both worth of the Golden Ticket.

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