Runners strive to be the Last Buckeye Standing
An epic endurance test steps off this weekend at Alum Creek State Park with one simple but harrowing goal in mind: be the last one still running.
Pacing the news: This Saturday's Last Buckeye Standing differs greatly from traditional races and is not for the faint of heart.
How it works: Runners start at 7am and have an hour's time to complete a 4.167-mile trail loop.
- Once finished, they can rest … until a bell sounds at 8am and they must complete another loop.
- This continues on an hourly cycle until only one person finishes a loop within the hour.
The big picture: "Backyard Ultra" events like this have been gaining popularity since endurance race director Gary Cantrell held the first in Tennessee a decade ago.
- Ohio now has several, with the largest drawing 110 runners from across the Midwest to rural Scioto County each March.
- Sunday's race is the first of its kind in this region, with nearly 45 athletes set to participate, organizer Craig Thompson tells us.
What they're saying: "I compare it to being punched in the face — light punches," Cantrell once said.
- "After awhile you just don't want to get up for it any more."
State of play: Participants typically set up a campsite near the starting corral to recharge in between loops.
- Success requires intense planning and strategy as they balance trail speed with durability.
- The faster they run, the more time they have to fill up on nutrients, use the restroom and change into clean gear before the next bell.
Yes, but: Going too quickly can cause a runner to flame out after just a few hours.
- So they must pace themselves, just not too much.
The intrigue: This can go on for an absurd length of time.
- The 2023 winner in Scioto County finished 53 loops totaling 220.83 miles, more than two straight days of running.
- New Albany's Mike Rowe was close behind with 49 loops (204.16 miles) completed.
Of note: The ruthless nature of Backyard Ultras dictates there is only one winner.
- As is customary, Rowe and the rest of the field were classified as a DNF — "Did Not Finish."
Worthy of your time: Ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter takes on the world's most sadistic endurance race, a feature story about the original (and most famous) Backyard Ultra.
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