Backyard Ultra – World Team Championship

Summary But, for many of us, we run because we want to eventually go to Big Dog’s Backyard, and pit ourselves against the best in the world.




We run in the backyard for many different reasons. We run because it is fun. We run to socialize with our friends (old and new). We run to go further than we have ever gone before….

But, for many of us, we run because we want to eventually go to Big Dog’s Backyard, and pit ourselves against the best in the world. And why should we not harbor such ambitions? In the backyard, anyone can win. One of the fundamental imperatives for any sport is to leave the outcome in the hands of the athlete. And so we want it to be in the backyard. Your road to Big’s is attached. Along the way is the opportunity to represent your country on a national team, to compete for a national championship… and, of course, a clear path to reach the world championships in Big Dog’s Backyard.


Check this link to get more information:



37 countries’ national teams will start the second satellite backyard ultra world championships.
37 national championship races occurring simultaneously
but, the real question is;
whose top 15 runners are the best?
each nation will field a 15 man team.
scores will be kept.
and the country whose 15 top runners complete the most hours
will win the world team championship for their country.
the result is a race not quite like any other.
the runners are rivals.
but they are also team-mates.
they combine their efforts to try to bring the world championship home to their country.
only when each race comes down to two runners
does it become a race to see who will represent the country in the individual world championships in 2023….
and it is all being broadcast,
start to finish.
with hours dedicated to each team
and coverage of the developing competition for the world championships.
and you can see it all;
the mud
the blood
the tears
and athletes pushing the limits of human capability ever further into the unknown.
is this the year that magic 100 hour barrier falls?
it is in the dreams of runners around the world.
tune in and see what happens.



Stats here:


 Final Standings:







WARNING… LONG READ! -didn't manage to keep it shorter, sorry!
The rain is pouring on our heads at The Hoge Rielen as we start the big cleanup the day after. It is kind of fitting for our melancholy, as our thoughts start drifting off, pondering over what happened here these last few days…
This was a World Championship that started with Team Belgium as the defending champions, but most definitely not the favorites. On paper, Team USA was unbeatable.
According to our own “pre-season” rankings, based on each runner’s previous best at Backyards – with the #1 seed’s total reduced to #2’s best + 1 yard), Team Australia was second to Team USA and it wasn’t even close. Our own Team Belgium came in ranking 3rd but we believed we were up for the challenge.
Things started smoothly and unlike many other countries, we didn’t suffer floodings, bears on the track, bushfires, race ending thunderstorms, or even war…
We knew the first day would be all about routine, unless something unforeseen like an injury would pop up. So we had the time to finish our setup on Saturday and open our bar for the many supporters.
Inside our crew was preparing our legendary homemade meals for the runners and their crew; and our team of physiotherapists where preventively taking care of our runners to avoid injuries.
In the meanwhile we were trying to follow all of the other Satellite races around the globe as closely as possible and remembered Alex Holl’s comment (at least I think it was Alex) who said maybe each country should be “supervised” by another country, so we started daydreaming about all the exotic places we could be visiting come 2024 😉
After 30 yards, 2 teams remained complete at 15 runners, but then Team Belgium's Karen had to throw in the towel which left Team Hungary as the first sole leader of the championship.
Meanwhile 6 races had come to their conclusion and the first participants (or invitees) of Big Dog’s 2023 where known.
The next 10 hours saw Team Finland getting heartbroken, having to cancel their event due to inclement weather, with 4 runners still going very strong; a list of countries ending their race; some very intriguing mano-a-mano competitions (yes that’s you Team Pakistan and Team Singapore – hats of to your front 2 runners); and Team Belgium loosing 5 more runners to fatigue, injury or stomach issues.
Meanwhile Team USA was still up to 13 runners and Team Australia had 12 left. Our initial benefit was gone and with each passing yard we were falling further behind. Thankfully that never impacted team spirit however and moral stayed high.
By the time we hit 50 yards, and we lost another 4 runners, it became pretty obvious that Team USA was on another level, up 59 points, and barring a catastrophe would be almost impossible to overtake. Team Australia was also still going very strong and had built up a 19 point lead on us.
Yard 50 to 60 the 6 remaining Belgians did not flinch and we closed up on Team Australia to get within 6 points. Meanwhile Team Japan were working on a comeback of their own as they moved into 4th place, 25 points away from securing a bronze medal.
What happened after that, will always remain a bit blurry, but we do remember closing in on Team Australia to within 1 point, before Frank “The Tank” Gielen tricked us all and did an extra lap as promised. Too bad it wasn’t a lap around the course, but just a lap around the building. So a minute after starting yard 68, we were down to 2 runners, with the USA, Australia and Japan, respectively 5, 3 and 3 man strong.
It also meant those were the only countries still alive. We were loosing track on Team USA and Team Australia, and Team Japan was creeping closer, although we still had a 25 point lead on them.
Round 73 and 74 saw USA, Australia and Japan all dropping to 2 remaining runners. 2 rounds later, the US and Australian races were also over and it came down to 4 runners, 2 Japanese warriors and 2 Belgian friends…
This new situation gave us a shot to eventually overtake Team Australia, but it meant we also still had to be weary of Team Japan catching up to us.
The next few hours we spent the time splitting between preparing everything for our runners and watching the Japan live feed, hovering between 2 feelings: hoping one of them wouldn’t make it and at least a podium place would be sure, and ; hoping they would be both make it to keep pushing towards that #breaking100.
It might have been sleep deprivation or the couple of beers we had been drinking – or the slight possibility that we actually hold sportsmanship above everything else -, but we were actually rooting for Shibawaki and Yukinori as well.
This situation lasted for another 10 yards, during which the Belgian media really started picking up on our race and camera crews were arriving by the plenty. And then, just 3 points short of a bronze medal – Team Belgium had since surpassed Team Australia for second place -, the race in Japan was over after 86 yards and 2 brave Belgians were the lone survivors of this World Championships.
As Julius Caesar wrote in his De Bello Gallico: Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae , i.e. Amongst them all the Belgians are the strongest!
Team USA still had a commanding 102 point lead, which would mean Ivo and Merijn would have to continue for 51 more laps, or a total of 137 yards in total, to tie the US for 1st place. That was an impossible goal, but the #breaking100 was a goal that was actually in sight.
The next 10 yards saw Belgium – and the rest of the world – really embracing this finale, both on site as trough social and traditional media. It also saw the best of what the Belgian Ultrarunning Scene is all about: friendship, camaraderie, good food & drinks, and the Legends Family… Although the “Legends” Backyard Belgium (and this Satellite World Championship) is technically not organized by Legends Trails, it does benefit from the Legends Family, a household name in said scene.
We cannot thank that family enough for the support they have given us through this race (and every Legends Trails race), they truly are our bread and butter!!!
You might wonder why this important for this recap, but to understand what happened in the closing hours of this event, it is very important. Merijn and Ivo have been part of this family for a lot of years. They have run countless races with and against each other over these years, and have become close friends, as you have all been able to witness.
After Team Japan had dropped from the race, they decided they would work together towards #breaking100 and then determine their strategy for the rest of the race.
To us it seemed pretty easy… Every loop they’d set off, we’d try and get some on course footage for the live feed and before we knew it they’d be back to get some more food or rest. All of a sudden they hit the 96 hour mark, meaning the first time anyone reached the 5th!!! day of racing in a Backyard, which is just mind boggling…
We had some fun trying to get the national news agency on the course on a broken cargo bike for a live feed on the 1 o’clock news; we ordered some t-shirts that could be delivered same day, we bought cake for Merijn’s birthday, we had to prolong the booking of our venue, and we shared stories, rekindled friendships and made new ones.
Closing in on 100, we were anxious to see what Ivo and Merijn’s plans would be after that historical yard. We talked to both, and got none the wiser…
And then all of a sudden there it was, 2 human beings, passing the finish line TOGETHER on their 100th hour, passing that magical line predicted by Maggie Gutterl in 2020.
After the fireworks laid down, we went inside to see the 2 Legends that had broken that mythical barrier to see what was up next. We did not gather much intel, other than they sat together, having a conservation that we’ll never get the full hang of
They both went out on lap 101 and what we hear is, they had a talk. They entered this race as team members, putting the team’s interest before their own. Ivo supported several team members to complete yet another loop, Merijn shared all his intel on this ultra format, and both kept motivating all of our runners throughout the race.
And then they decided to end it as a team. That is neither weak, nor wrong. That is true sportsmanship and friendship. We spoke to both Ivo and Merijn the morning after, WHILE THEY HELPED US CLEAN UP THE PLACE …, and there are no regrets.
Next year at Big’s the circumstances will be different: they’ll still be good friends, but they won’t be on the same team, and they’ll battle it out in Laz’s Backyard, along with 73 other World Class Athletes.
So no, they didn’t break the sport they compete in, they broke 100, they broke the World Record, and they stole everyone’s heart!
to Team USA for winning the World Championship, we’re already looking forward to threatening your status in 2024. Team Australia gave us a run for our money for obtaining second place, and we think almost everyone there smashed their PB, so “well done mates” and thank you for pushing us. The latter also goes for Team Japan, that gave us quite the scare on #breaking100
Thanks to Laz, Naresh, Fabien, Tracey, and countless names we’re forgetting here for hosting this event and making this week unforgettable for A LOT of people.
To Team Belgium, their crew & our volunteers: we are incredibly proud of you and we love you!!! Again, we’ve been humbled by your persistence, your endurance, your smiles and your hearts. Enjoy celebrating that silver medal! #partycomingup
Team Belgium signing off, while the sun has reappeared as we finish mop-up duty, confirming things are good…




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