Big's Backyard Ultra starts to take shape as American team announced
The global edition of the epic Big’s Backyard Ultra is beginning to take shape as rosters for national endurance teams are announced including an American team loaded with some of the best ultra runners on the planet.
Organizer Gary Cantrell, a.k.a. Laz Lake, of Barkley Marathons fame, says the event is filling up with some serious international talent, in part, as a result of the lack of physical races.
“There are so many top athletes involved because there's not much chance with international competition,” he explains, while on a walk near his Tennessee home. “What we've done is each nation that has a race has a team, and they will run a backyard ultra wherever they are.”
Big’s has become one of the most popular events on the ultra calendar. The race usually takes place on Lake’s property in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The now-popular backyard format sees runners having to complete a set loop once per hour every hour until there is one person remaining who runs the last loop and is declared the victor.
Last year, American runner Maggie Guterl won Big’s after logging 250 miles, becoming the first woman to win the event.
“It felt like a culmination of everything I have learned in ultra running (and life),” Guterl says.
According to Lake, the 2020 race will continue to follow the traditional backyard ultra format where a runner must complete the set 4.16667-mile loop every hour on the hour until everyone else drops. But, there will be satellite races held simultaneously around the world.
"Each race will end when only one man (be it male or female) can complete a loop. So each race will end when it ends. The winner of the last race running within the limitations of this year will be the 2020 world champion,” he says.
"We are going to link the races by the magic of the internet, and the whole thing will be broadcast by some techie street gang from Alberta Canadia [sic LOL]."
The techie street gang in question is indeed the team behind the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, which is now Gather Virtual. A group that includes ultra runner Dave Proctor, who will captain Team Canada, as well as Ryan Kershaw, Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard and Daniel Bowie.
Although each country will put forward a team, there is some wiggle room in terms of the nationality of each participant.
“Denmark represents Denmark. They have at least one or two members who are not actually Danish national, but in the current situation, we want all the best athletes to be able to compete in the championship,” Lake says.
Rosters are beginning to be finalized as we approach the October race date, with the American team already being solidified and including some of the top names in ultrarunning including defending champion Guterl, Courtenay Dauwalter, and Mike Wardian, who won the inaugural Quarantine Backyard Ultra earlier this summer. In addition, there are a few top OCR competitors thrown into the mix including Amelia Boone, who has won both the Spartan Race World Championship (2013) and World's Toughest Mudder on multiple occasions.
There are more than 20 other countries set to participate with European nations including Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Finland already submitting completed rosters. There are also teams from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates to name a few.
The Canadian team has yet to be announced, but it will be captained by Dave Proctor.