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    The 'big dogs' come out to play at Bigs Backyard Ultra

    on November 02, 2023

    Sam Harvey, New Zealand's Backyard Ultra National Champion, took on 75 of the world's leading specialists of this format in Tennessee last month, which saw a new world record being set at the Backyard Ultra World Champs, also known as 'Bigs'.

    Three men — Harvey Lewis (USA), Ihor Verys (Ukraine, lives in Canada), and Bartosz Fudali (Poland) eclipsed the previous benchmark of 102 laps / 683.4km, held by Phil Gore (Australia), set in Queensland in June

    Fudali bowed out after 103 hours, leaving Lewis and Verys. Finally, Verys returned to camp after starting but not completing hour 108, while Lewis completed to win and set the new record of 108 loops over four days and 12 hours of running - an incredible 724km (450 miles).

    In his previous 'Backyard' clash, Sam equalled the world record in Australia of 677km in June, where Gore briefly became the new record-holder before Big's. 

    This year's renewal saw the highest ever number of runners left after 70 loops (approximately 448km) and an unprecedented number still in contention at any point in the race. 

    'I felt the strongest, fittest and most confident going into the race'

    On Day 3, Sam posted a video, saying: "Preparation for this big dance was 💯, nutrition was dialled thanks to Cushla Holdaway and CurraNZ. Training was maxed out and the rig was strong (thank you Aerobic Edge). I was the strongest, fittest and most confident I could have been going into a race."

    Sam ploughed on until retiring after the 91st lap, having run a herculean 610km, with support from his Mum Sue and friend Adam Keen, who crewed.

    Backyard Ultras are often considered a race of 'attrition' with runners willing themselves to keep running the loop until the rest of the pack eventually give up.

    Sam himself once said 'it is amazing how far your mind can make your body go. It is amazing, when the mind lets go, how helpless you are". 

    Sam noted that for the moment, his goal of being the last man standing at the World Champs remains unfinished business.