When Sally van Nuland and Cherie McCafferty started the 128th hour of the Little Dog Front Yard Challenge, they were the last two runners in the backyard ultra-style event. They didn't know that they still had more than 100 hours and miles to go.
As is common during the corona virus pandemic, runners find creative ways to race and compete with postponements and cancellations around the world. This has many shapes, but a popular shape comes from Big's Backyard Ultra format, created by Barkley Marathon inventor Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell.
A virtual version of this event took place in April ̵
"Brandon and I discussed bigs one day and how you had to be pretty elitist to do something like bigs," said van Nuland to Runner & # 39; s World . “You have to be fairly legitimate to do this mileage. At that point, we were talking about a smaller event, a little dog race that anyone can do. “
One mile an hour seemed manageable for the average runner. Van Nuland had previously run a long mile an hour run for 24 hours in a row. So if you did this backyard style, you could see how far and how long runners would be willing to go.
You Wilson and van Nuland live in Greensboro, North Carolina, a free, no-convenience event for a small group of friends who are primarily located in the southeastern United States. In less than a week, they were able to bring 47 racers to the virtual starting line on April 24 at 6 p.m. ET.
Wilson, a certified race director and race timer, laid down the basic rules: Run one mile outside at the beginning of each hour. Every runner would have to record every mile on Strava and also record a "1" in a Google spreadsheet for the corresponding mile.
Most of the field shrank quickly over the weekend, but after three full days – yes, days – there were five runners left and there seemed to be no end to them. The fifth-place runner, Wendy Murray, only retired because she had to return to work.
It got even crazier when three runners survived five days or 120 hours / miles.
“I. I knew that they were both strong competitors and had great mileage, ”says van Nuland. “It would amount to something technical or falling asleep instead of being unable to walk. It really consumed life all week. “
At 12pm (or around 1am on Friday), John Price, the last man in the race, retired and let McCafferty and van Nuland fight for the top spot.
Despite the struggle between sleep, fuel consumption and personal life, none of the runners showed signs of stopping. They went on for miles just five days.
"One mile an hour has been my whole life," said van Nuland. “I've only ever thought about going back to a normal life if you can call it that today. When we went over a week, I thought my new normal would run a mile every hour. “
After 10 full days, there was controversy at 243 hours / mile. Runner & # 39; s World contacted both runners to clarify this controversy. Van Nuland phoned us and posted about it on Facebook. McCafferty did not speak to us, although she shared some thoughts on the subject in a short message and post on her Facebook page.
Based on reports from both sides, we can say the following: After completing the 243rd mile, van Nuland said that she had entered her "1" in the Google table and recorded her mileage on Strava. It's unclear what happened to the "1", but it wasn't shown on the sheet when McCafferty looked it up. According to van Nuland, Wilson updated the page, which he had to do again and again, and that was the likely cause. McCafferty took a screenshot and sent it to Wilson and van Nuland, who are living together again as friends.
McCafferty went into mile / hour 244 and thought she would win if she covered the mile because there was no record of van Nuland's mile in the Google spreadsheet. When McCafferty had finished her mile, Wilson texted and called to remedy the situation.
It is important to note that runners where Strava had delays in uploading were allowed to continue at the start of the race as long as they could demonstrate that they had covered their mile and later entered their "1".
After round 244 McCafferty bowed after thinking she had won; She thought Wilson tried to bend the rules in favor of van Nuland because she was Wilson's friend. There was an attempt to continue both women because they had covered their miles, but McCafferty reportedly refused.
Wilson told van Nuland what happened after the 244 mile / hour. Van Nuland reportedly offered to give McCafferty the win; McCafferty, however, declined.
Van Nuland went on to complete lap 245 and even walked another five hours to reach 250 before finally stopping.
"It doesn't get anyone to get a real, good win," said van Nuland. "I have the feeling that we ran all these hours, and for nothing. Nobody feels good."
This was clearly not the way one of the runners wanted to finish the race. Neither feels victorious.
However, the story shouldn't focus on the controversial ending. Instead, it should be the incredible challenge that these women went through together for more than 10 days (244 hours). They accomplished something that has never been seen in the running world, and they did so by driving almost 120 hours alone when they had every chance to stop. Still, they persevered.
Although social media flares up in response to the controversial end – just like at the end of the Ultra Quarantine Backyard – there is general consensus that both women have accomplished something that should be announced as evidence how strong these women are, physically and mentally.
"I was afraid of how long it would take," said van Nuland. "Seriously, at what point would we say that enough is enough? I felt we could have gone weeks and weeks longer. "