A week ago I had the opportunity to photograph the first ever Elm Creek Backyard Ultra. This is a last man standing style event, which means that participants have 1 hour to traverse a 4.167 mile looped course. They can then rest until the top of the next hour when they do it all over again. Every hour, on the hour, a new race starts with whoever is able to make it to the starting line. If you don’t get there in time… you’re out. Too tired to continue? You’re out. Take too long in the porta-potty? You’re out. If you’re not at that starting line each hour, your day is done.
Needless to say this leads to a lot of attrition and eventually the race whittles down to a handful of competitors. The distance of 4.167 miles per loop means that in 24 hours you’ve completed 100 miles. Your average trail runner would be hard pressed to do 100 miles in less than 24 hours, making this an incredibly tough event. At the 2021 World Championships, Harvey Lewis went 354.167 miles. That means that the race went on for 85(!) hours. That’s 3.5 days that competitors were gutting it out.
Thankfully for all the organizers involved, the Elm Creek Backyard Ultra didn’t go on that long (just over 70 miles). Especially given the wet, cold, and windy conditions. These conditions also made it a challenge to be out there photographing. However, I feel like I got a good set of shots and captured the essence of how the event feels.