Six-hundred kilometres would get you from London to Cologne. Think about that for a second, then imagine running that distance in less than 74 hours.
That’s exactly what Belgian endurance runner Merijn Geerts did when he won the frankly ridiculous Backyard Masters race which took place in Rettert, Germany.
The race is set up like some kind of torturous experiment. Competitors run a 6.7K loop through forests and farmland every hour until there is only one runner left standing. The race began on Saturday morning, and competitors had to complete a lap an hour – at any speed – and ensure they were back at the startline for the next lap. This left most runners around 10-15mins to have a rest and refuel before heading out to shuffle round the next lap.
As the hours ticked into days and runners slowly dropped out of the race, at 489K in (73 laps), Japanese competitor Terumichi Morishita dropped out to leave just two remaining: Geerts and Keith Russell from Ireland. The pair then traded blows in the ultimate physical and mental battle for a further 16 laps, breaking the previous record of 85 laps, until Russell decided he could not go on during lap 89.
‘After 72 hours, it was down to Merijn and myself and I knew the last two loops that I was struggling,’ Russell told the Irish Mirror. ‘When I went into the forest area in the 90th loop, I just knew I wouldn’t make it back, so I spoke to Merijn and finished.
‘I gave it all I had. At that point, I was exhausted. I was falling asleep running. I was hallucinating through the forest and waking up still running.’
On his Instagram, Russell said post-race, ‘We broke the world record by five hours and tbh if I did not return on loop 90 we would still be out there. I gave it everything to which I am proud of.’
Geerts went on to complete lap 90 within the allotted hour to win the race, recording a total distance of 603.5K in 73:38:50.
See the full results here.
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