So there will be plenty of Tailwind Endurance Fuel available for
runners at the aid station on every loop. I started using
Tailwind as the only fuel for my long runs a few months ago and
have really enjoyed it, (and no longer carry any gels or chews,
The claim of the Tailwind folk is "All you need. All
day. Really.". I haven't tested that myself, but of course, in a
backyard ultra, even "all day" might not be enough to finish the
race. So, see
Maggie Guterl's blog post
on how she used Tailwind and other nutrition to carry herself
through her 60-hour victory at the 2019 Big's Backyard Ultra.
Feb. 12, 2020
Let's Get to Know Each Other
We've just published the 7th runner
profile: Rylan Phillips.
Tap/click on any image above to read more or see the full set
of runner profiles here.
Runners, please email
Carl Worth <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you'd be willing for
me to post a profile of you. Obviously, there's no obligation to
do so, but it's fun to get to know each other a bit before we all
spend a weekend together in April.
Feb. 1, 2020
A View of the Course
The circular courtyard serves as the starting corral for
the race. The adjacent covered pavilion is the runners'
recovery area for between loops. Photo credit: Rick Obst
The runners' recovery area includes plenty of picnic
tables as well as additional space for runners' personal
favorite camp chairs, etc. Photo credit: Rick Obst
The initial section of the course consists of a wide road,
(some of which is gravel and some of which is
paved). Photo credit: Rick Obst
A larger portion of the course consists of well-seasoned,
single-track dirt trails through the trees and along the
river. Photo credit: Rick Obst
The dirt trail occasionally opens up wider allowing for
two runners to run side by side, ideal for passing the
hours in conversation. Photo credit: Rick Obst
Most of the paved portion of the course is a wide and
smooth bike path (not shown). Some is a narrow, mossy path
through the trees (see photo). Photo credit: Rick Obst
The trail portions of the course follow alongside the
Willamette River and frequently provide some beautiful
views of the river. Photo credit: Rick Obst
Here's a chance to see some of the beatiful scenery at the race
venue, the fantastic facility we have access to for an
inter-loop recovery area, and a limited preview of some
potential trail surfaces.
Note: The above photos were taken a few years ago and may not
all be precisely along the actual course. But they should give a
useful representation of what the course will be like. I plan to
publish an updated set of photos from the precise course as soon
as the weather and my scheduled allows.
All of the above photos of Champoeg Park are by
provided generously under the
CC BY 2.0
Jan. 22, 2020
Meet your Race Director!
With just over 12 weeks left until the 2020
Banana Slug Backyard Ultra I thought it would be
great to get to know each other before we meet. I'm going first
and have added a personal
profile to the website. Tap/click the image above to read
Runners, please reach out to me privately if you'd be willing
for me to post a profile of you. All profiles will be linked to
from the race roster page which is
now being kept up-to-date as new registrations come in, (2 more
already came in since the last news post!).
Jan. 15, 2020
Who's in the Running?
Here's the initial roster of registered runners. (Note: See
the latest roster for an updated
Lake Oswego, OR
West Linn, OR
We've got a great lineup of runners so far with a very diverse
field. I know of at least one runner whose longest previous race
is a half marathon. Other runners have completed 50k, 100k, and
100-mile, or 24-hour races. We even have at least a couple of
entrants who have previously competed in a last-runner-standing
event of some sort. So it should be an interesting competition.
One thing I don't dare predict is who the winner might be. I
honestly think anybody could win this race. I hope that everyone
will surprise themselves at how much they are able to do. My one
sure prediction is that it will be fun to watch what happens.
I originally thought we might have to limit the entrants to 25,
which would mean the race is nearly full. But at this point, I'm
excited to say that we should be able to accept up to 50
So keep spreading the word. We've already got entrants from a
good stretch of the I-5 corridor through Oregon and beyond. I'm
glad we've got a few female entrants already, but we could
still use more. Invite your friends!
Will wrote a compelling writeup
of his experience at Big's and I highly recommend you read all
of it. I will highlight here one thread of his experience in
his own words—the changing motivations that kept him moving day
and night for 3 days and more than 245 miles.
He begins with a personal motivation that gets him through his
first 100 miles.
I remain convinced that if I was at Big’s Backyard by myself,
with no crew, I would have given in to the comforts of the
chair and dropped at 36 hours.
When his own personal motivation isn't enough to keep running,
he finds a new source of inspiration in the dedication and
sacrifice of his encouraging crew.
It was Jason and Heather who became my new motivation. They
had driven 10 hours to sit in a field in Tennessee for a day
and a half, seeing me once an hour, in order to help me run my
best race. If they wanted me to keep going, how could I say no
His crew's encouragement gets him to a moment where he and
Maggie are the only two runners left, having each completed
over 220 miles.
I get my third motivation. I’m not just continuing to extend
my limits, or doing it for my crew; I have to keep going to
honour the contest. Everyone who is watching wants this race
to be extended, even my opponent. Despite wanting nothing else
in this world other than to drop out of the race, I start
This commitment to the event allows Will to push himself to
complete loop after loop after he told Maggie he thought was
going to have to drop. It allows him to never stop going to the
starting line when Laz prepares to ring the starting bell. While
still opponents, Will and Maggie form a partnership to keep the
race going as long as possible. And Gavin Woody's photograph of
their fistbump perfectly captures that partnership at the moment
just before these two indomitable spirits headed off from the
starting line together for the 54th time in 53 hours.
The winner's reliance on a committed assist runner is a unique
aspect of backyard ultras. So if you're running in
the Banana Slug Backyard Ultra and hoping to
win, you'll probably want to recruit a good, strong friend to
run with you. Failing that, you should plan to make a good, new
friend during your first several loops together!
post Laz listed the 49 Affiliate backyard ultras indicating
that a "dozen or so" invitations would be extended to the
winners of the Affiliate events with the best results.
About one third of the Affiliate events have already been held
and the results can be seen above, (thanks
Cranswick for compiling the results data). So, today, a
result of 16 hours and loops (66.67 miles) would put a winner
into the top 12 and a result of 24 hours and loops (100 miles)
would put a winner into the top 7 of Affiliate winners. But will
that be good enough when another 32 events have been run? It
will certainly be interesting to watch.
It's important to note as well that the official rules of
backyard ultra do not allow the winner to complete any more than
the one winning loop beyond what other competitors complete,
(that is, the winner cannot choose to continue to run additional
loops after winning). So a big result in a backyard ultra
requires more than just a strong single runner. It also requires
a strong "assist" runner who is able to push the winner far
I have a lot more to say about the importance of the assist, but
I'll save that for a future post.