Events called backyard ultras are taking place worldwide.

The backyard ultra is an ultradistance event where each competitor runs laps on a set course of 4.167 miles. Each runner must finish each loop in less than an hour. The distance of each loop is equal to 100 divided by 24, so that a competitor will run 100 miles over a full day (24 hours) if they can.

All backyard ultras all over the world follow the same rules. At the start of each hour, the runners line up again to complete the same loop. A whistle is blown at 3-minutes before the hour, again at 2-minutes before the hour and then at 1-minute before the hour. If a runner is not in the corral when the next lap begins, on the hour, they cannot continue and their race is done. This keeps going until there is only one runner remaining. This runner is then declared the winner. The race continues for as long as is required for there to be only one runner left.

If there are no runners that can complete a final lap within the allowed hour, then there is no winner.

History of the Backyard Ultra

The rules of the backyard ultra are the same wherever the race is held. They include:

  • Each lap of a backyard ultra course must be 4.167 miles in length.
  • To stay in the race, runners must be in the corral when the hourly whistle is blown.
  • There is a warning whistle three, two and one minute before the hourly whistle sounds the start of the next lap.
  • Runners are not allowed to leave the course apart from when they need to visit a bathroom. Each runner may set up a race pit near the corral.
  • Runners can’t be supported while on the course, but they can receive assistance, such as a massage or food, between laps in their race pit.

Backyard Ultra Rules

Gary ‘Lazarus Lake’ Cantrell came up with the idea for a backyard ultra. He is the creator and race director of the infamous Barkley Marathon, one of the toughest ultras in the world. The first backyard ultra, Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, took place in Cantrell’s backyard in Bell Buckle, Tennessee in 2011. The race is named after his wonderful dog, Big (may he rest in peace).