Blair Castle

Race is on to be the ‘Last One Standing’ at Blair Castle backyard ultra

Getting a ‘DNF’ is a badge of honour at unique endurance event

Blair Castle and Estate will be the stunning location for mainland Scotland’s only ‘silver ticket’ backyard ultra – a format invented by Lazarus Lake of Berkeley Marathons fame – next summer.

When the gun goes off at 12 noon on Saturday, 23 July 2022, competitors in ‘The Highlander: Last One Standing’ will have one hour to complete their first loop of a 4.167-mile-long off-road course. 

After completing that first loop, runners must be back at the start line and ready to roll before the gun goes off again at 1pm. According to the rules of the ‘backyard ultra’ format, any runner not finished within the 60-minute time limit and toeing the line for the next loop will be disqualified and removed from the race. 

In a backyard ultra, pacing is the key to success rather than simply being the fastest. All runners are equal at the start of each lap, and it’s up to them how they want to split their next 60 minutes between running and recovery. But unlike in a normal ultra, no competitor knows how many hours the race will last, or how many miles they’ll need to run to claim victory.

The hour-long cycle will continue, every hour on the hour, until only one runner out of the maximum of 160 who started the event is able to drag themselves up to the line on time. But even that’s not enough to win: the ‘Last One Standing’ must then complete a final solo loop within the time limit to be declared the victor. 

In a further twist on a regular ultra, all runners except the winner will be given an official ‘DNF’ (‘Did Not Finish’) in the results – and a medal to prove their achievement. Any competitor still in the race after 24 hours will receive a Rocket Events 100-mile medal.

For their efforts, the overall winner, or ‘Last One Standing’, will gain a place on the UK Team for the World Backyard Championship in October 2022.

And to get an idea of the company they’d be in when they got there, the winner of this year’s World Championship, Harvey Lewis, completed 85 4.167-mile loops of the Tennessee course, running a total of 354 miles in 71 hours.

Image: Blair Castle and Estate (Nick Mailer)

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