Harvey Lewis and Courtney Dauwalter fistbump at Big's Backyard Ultra 2020; (photo credit/Courtney Dauwalter)
Harvey Lewis and Courtney Dauwalter fistbump at Big's Backyard Ultra 2020; (photo credit/Courtney Dauwalter)

Courtney Dauwalter Runs 283.3 Miles, Setting Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Records

The brutal 2020 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra race went global (and got a lot more exciting) — with a few new overall records set.

This year’s Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, a last-runner-standing running competition hosted by infamous race organizer Lazarus Lake, was held a little differently due to COVID-19. The race was conducted in groups organized by country and was staggered over the course of the weekend, starting on October 17.

Every hour, in different locations around the globe, a new batch of runners would toe the line. In the U.S., 14 runners traveled to Bell Buckle, Tennessee, to tackle the laps. The lineup included Harvey Lewis, Courtney Dauwalter, Maggie Guterl (the 2019 champ), and Gavin Woody (the 2018 champ).

The runners do loops of a 4.167-mile course, with new loops starting once every hour upon the sounding of a bell. There are no late starts allowed, and the winner is the last person to complete a loop.

Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Winner

In the 2018 Backyard Ultra, Courtney Dauwalter was the female runner to last the longest — running for 67 hours and 431 km, coming in second to record-setting Johan Steene.

This year, Dauwalter’s hard work paid off — she was the last runner standing, becoming the second woman ever to win at Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra. And took home the winning title for the first “Satellite” Backyard Ultra for the U.S.

Dauwalter ran for an impressive 283.3 miles in 68 laps for a finish time of 56 hours, 52 minutes, and 29 seconds. It was the longest mileage and most laps a female runner has accomplished in the race. Dauwalter also ties with 2018 champ Johan Steene for most laps overall.

Last year, runner Maggie Guterl became the first woman to finish the last-runner-standing style race, with over 250 miles in 60 hours.

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World Teams for Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra

“It is hard to believe that a week from now we will be preparing to launch our US team out to compete against other teams around the world. It is harder to believe that you will be able to tune in at any time, and see what is going on, live!” Lazarus Lake posted excitingly in the week leading up to the race.

Between starts, the ultra’s feed streamed live coverage from the different venues, statistical analysis, taped interviews, and more behind-the-scenes action. You can check out more race coverage here and the results here.

*Update: Karel Sabbe of Belgium has won the overall Backyard World Champion title, with 74 laps in a final time of just under 55 hours.

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Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.