American Mike Wardian wins Quarantine Backyard Ultra after logging more than 400 kilometres
After a whopping two-and-a-half days of running, American runner Michael Wardian has won the inaugural Quarantine Backyard Ultra.
The backyard race format was originally conceived by Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell wherein competitors run 4.16-mile loop after loop under a specified time limit. The race continues until there is one runner left standing. The Quarantine Backyard Ultra was organized by Canadian runner Dave Proctor.
Needless to say, the ultra-running community seemed impressed by Wardian's feat. And, for the record, he's 45 years old.
The event, which began on April 4, was free, and runners competed from their own self-isolation units whether it be an out and back home course or a treadmill. Runners connected via Zoom and it was all streamed live on YouTube. The race ended up having a massive and very competitive field of 2,400 runners from more than 50 countries including Proctor himself, Courtney Dauwalter, Jay Kinsella, and Maggie Guterl who won last year's Big Dog's Backyard Ultra after running 250 miles.
The two runners at the end of the race were Wardian, who ran outdoor loops in his neighborhood and Czech Republic runner Radek Brunner on his home treadmill. They went after it for 16 straight hours head-to-head until Brunner was disqualified, which caused a fair bit of controversy.
Brunner was DQ's by none other than Cantrell himself, as Brunner did not start running at the correct time during the first minute of the loop.
The decision left the race commentator in tears.
Third-place went to Swedish runner Anna Carlsson who stopped after 46 loops.
Wardian's final mileage total was 63 laps (422 kilometres).
Lazarus Lake and Proctor both posted on the Facebook event page recognizing that although there was controversy, this wasn't a true backyard ultra.
"They left out one important part... the word "virtual," Lake said. "This was not really a backyard ultra as you had 2,400 people running 2,400 different courses under 2,400 different sets of circumstances. It was just for fun."
Hopefully, it won't be long before runners can punish themselves over a few hundred miles in a public group setting for all to enjoy!