Profiles of Participants

Some of the participants in the 2020 Banana Slug Backyard Ultra are featured below. See the complete roster for a complete list of participants.

Rylan Phillips
  • Rylan Phillips
  • Rylan Phillips

I live with my wife and our two girls in Sherwood. We love traveling together and getting outdoors as much as we can. As far as ultra running... it was my wife's idea.

I spent many years playing contact sports like football, rugby and Aussie rules football. After hanging up the boots I got into ultras and I've been going strong for a few years. Running is unique in the way it forces me to change. I love the personal growth that comes from true gritty challenges. Even the training runs help clear my mind and reboot. Lately fastpacking has become my newest obsession.

Backyard Slug Run caught my eye and I figured what the heck?! Looking forward to a new race experience!

Leah Brown
  • Leah Brown
  • Leah and her dog, Pookie
  • Leah in a bike race

I'm Leah, and my favorite places to run are pretty much anywhere that has trees and dirt. I'm easy to please and happiest when I'm outdoors.

I’ve never done a race like this before, so I’m both excited and nervous. I’ve run regular-style ultras before and my favorite distance is probably 50k. I finished my first 100 miler in September and I’m looking for “what’s next?”. I also race bikes, but I’m new to the “last man standing” format. When I’m not running or riding I work as a veterinary nurse and I’m studying illustration and graphic design (what’s free time?!). I also collect shoes and dogs. That’s my buddy Pookie in the second picture, but he’s 13 and retired from running now.

Looking forward to seeing you in April!

Will (slowfat)
Will (slowfat)

Hi, I'm Will (slowfat). This is a common look for me—hopelessly lost in a place I have no business being in. This photo was taken in Southern Utah when my wife (not pictured) and my friend Matt were training for the San Francisco marathon—our first! While love for my wife, our dog and our friends center me, I spend most of my life feeling like a confused impostor. "How did I end up on this side of the river?", "Why do they keep on letting me work here?", "Are they really going to sell me a pizza with triple extra cheese? That's gotta be some kind of crime, right?"

There are so many things I want to do in life for which, in order to do them well, you need talent or aptitude. I was delighted to discover in the past few years that running requires neither. I thought to myself, "You mean, I don't have to be good? Or fast? Or know what I'm doing? That all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and not quit and at the end I'll definitely get a beer and a medal? Ok, this, I'm pretty certain I can do." Running provides me with peace, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of belonging. Belonging to something much bigger than me—sure, something inconsequential and rarely useful, but also something ancient and primal. And the bar for entry to the group is so blissfully low—just keep doing that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing—that's all it takes to belong.

Excited to see how many steps I've got in me.

Bob Irving
  • Bob at Trillium Lake in the snow
  • Bob racing at Silver Falls
  • Bob's bike at a scenic overlook

In the past I have raced just about every type of race:

This will be my first Backyard Ultra so I can add another to the list. My wife says anything to get out of yard or house work. True. I'm coming back from some lingering ankle problems but hope to be ready come race day.

  • Shep
  • Shep with Lazarus (Laz) Lake

Hey friends, you can call me Shep! Although I call Northern Alberta home, I am currently hiding from the brutally cold Canadian winters (-40 degrees!) and taking in the views here in the beautiful PNW.

I am fairly new to the competitive side of ultra-distance running, however, my passion for this sport began over a decade ago on the mountainous trails of Alaska. Over the years, running has grown into such an integral part of my life that I have taken to solo life on the road to pursue this passion full-time, travelling around North America running in and volunteering at various events. I have made it my mission in life to try everything for myself and draw from those experiences as I grow to take on greater challenges.

The Backyard format caught my eye this past year and I have totally fallen in love with the 4.1mi loop. I am now on a mission to become the greatest Backyardigan ever and earn my ticket to the infamous Barkley Marathons.

I look forward to meeting everyone on the trail!

Relevant Accomplishments

2019 Big Dog Backyard World Championships
Golden ticket winner, 32 loops (133 miles or 214km)
2019 Across the Years
6 Day "Around the Clock" record holder, 435 miles

Joshua Niggli
Joshua Niggli

The most important things in this life are God, family, and friends—running, music, and work intertwine them to make them complete.

God has gifted me with a wife and our four children ranging in age from 2-8 years old. When not working 50 hrs a week as a Union Electrician, spending time with my wife and kids, or spinning vinyl records I can be found running in the streets.

Although trails are my preferred terrain, road is right outside my door. So when my many other responsibilities take most of the days hours I run early in the morning or late at night to fit it in. Although I run very few sanctioned events, a “Backyard Ultra” has always been on my bucket list. I’m excited to test the limits of my body and encourage everyone running with me to do the same.

Kim T.
  • Kim on a night run
  • Kim crossing a creek

I’m Kim, and I live in Portland. I started trail running as a youth in the mountains of New Mexico. I met Carl through PNW Search and Rescue. He’s kind and easy-going, as evidenced by laughing with me when I navigated him up a river bank into a big tall patch of devil’s club on a training run. So I decided to support his first attempt to carefully organize this interesting race format by being the first to sign up.

I turned 50 this year and have been doing as many “first ever” activities as possible. When I’m not running, kayaking, sailing, or otherwise playing outdoors, I’m working in our local public health department with fantastic dedicated colleagues and community members.

I may be wearing costumes at this race. Yes, plural, which includes costume changes.

I look forward to meeting you.

Carl Worth (Race Director)
  • Carl and Stacy Worth at the Oregon coast

    Carl and Stacy Worth at the Oregon coast

  • Carl and sons at a cross-country meet

    If only I could be as fast as these two boys...

  • Carl on the Loowit trail in the blast zone of Mt. St. Helens

    I love the unworldly scenery around Mt. St. Helens.

  • Carl in PNWSAR uniform

    Carl, oblivious to the camera during a PNWSAR training

  • Carl crossing a creek on a rainy SAR training day

    When trail-running training ends up without a trail and without running

  • Highline over the Crooked River as part of a PNSWAR RST training exercise

    PNWSAR highline over the Crooked River at Smith Rock (Carl not pictured)

I'm Carl and I've lived in Wilsonville for 15 years with my beautiful wife and our 4 sons. My teenage sons have been an inspiration to me with their enthusiasm for running. I've long enjoyed outdoor activities such as backpacking and rock climbing but only in the past year have gotten very interested in trail running.

I did a fast, light hike of the Loowit Trail around Mt. St. Helens last year (32 miles, 14 hours) and am planning to return there soon for my "first" ultra run.

I've been a member of Pacific Northwest Search & Rescue for 3 years as well as a member of its specialty rope-support team (2 years) and trail-running team (less than 1 year).

When not outdoors I'm often constructing various word and logic puzzles, and I work as a computer programmer.

Note: In that last picture it's not me that's dangling from the highline over the Crooked River at Smith Rock. But I did help construct and operate that highline as part of a PNWSAR RST training exercise.