Through the daylight, through the dark, along the trails, along the roads, up the hills, down the slopes, the running went on and on and on.
The BC Backyard Ultra, held in Salmon Arm for the first time, started Friday, April 29, at 8 a.m., with a field of about 50 racers. Every hour on the hour they did a 6.7-kilometre loop.
Prior to the race, Kara Leinweber, owner and director of Lewiston Ultra Events which hosted the Backyard Ultra, predicted it could continue for 25 to 40 hours.
As it turned out, the runners took it to the max.
The race is set up so that just one person wins. In Salmon Arm, that person ran for 39 hours and 39 laps, covering 261.3 kilometres and finishing about 11 p.m., Saturday.
The winner was Ihor Verys from Chilliwack, who received an assist from Mitch Leblanc, also from the Chilliwack area.
Leinweber explained what an assist is.
“It means Mitch was second place. Ihor is only allowed to do one more lap after our second place decides he is done. So if Mitch runs 38, Ihor can only run 39.”
The course looped around Little Mountain Park during the day until 7 p.m. At night, it left the park onto a loop that included Auto Road. Runners used headlamps and the course was marked with reflective flags.
According to social media posts from host Lewiston Ultra Events, the race was Verys’ first Backyard and his longest distance previously was 125 km.
In third place was Kevin Barata, who completed 36 laps.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the field had narrowed to six runners. It then shrunk to three during the evening.
Along with claiming the coveted silver coin, Verys receives an invitation to participate in the Canadian Championship Series and an opportunity to compete in Big’s Backyard Ultra World Championship.
Posted the hosts following the win: “The last two days were absolute magic. Congrats to Ihor on his strong finish, energetic spirit & desire to push. It was an honour to host you.”
Leinweber told the Observer the event went “exceptionally well.” She said her organization plans to host the Backyard Ultra again at Little Mountain Park. It will take place Friday, April 28, 2023, to be capped at 100 participants.
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