The concept of the backyard ultra was dreamed up by iconic race director Lazarus Lake of Tennessee. He’s also known as the founder and Race Director of the Barkley Marathons.
In 2012 Laz created Big’s Backyard Ultra as a tribute to his dog, Big, a pitbull he rescued after it showed up on his property half-starved and with gunshot wounds. Big’s Backyard Ultra is still held in Laz’s backyard over 6.7km (4.16mile) of rolling terrain on his rural Tennessee property
At last count there are over 69 countries that now hold backyard ultra events and at least 1000 sanctioned events. You can find them all here.
Every even numbered year there is a World Team Championship held. The next one is in October 2022 and as a Silver Ticket event, the winner of Pigs Backyard will receive an entry into that.
Every odd numbered year there will be an Individual World Championship held in Tennessee. Winners of Gold Ticket events get an entry into that. The Gold Ticket event held in NZ is the Riverhead Backyard Relaps Ultra. The winner of the Pig’s Backyard Ultra will receive a free entry into that.
Sound confusing? Fair enough, it is; but you can find out more here.
Don’t read this if you get squeamish!
The current record for a Backyard Ultra is held by Merijn Geerts of Belgium.
At The Race of the Champions in 2022 he ran over 603 km in 90 hours… almost to Kekerengu (north of Kaikoura) from the Pigs Backyard Ultra race start.
If you want to know more about that have a look here.
Sweden, where the Backyard Ultra first caught on as a participation event, has around 40 Backyard Ultras….more than Marathons and Ultras combined.