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B.C. ultra runner races 717K in 4 days in Tennessee

Ihor Verys lost to Ohio’s Harvey Lewis at Big’s Backyard Ultra event
Ihor Verys, a 29-year-old ultra runner from Chilliwack, was the second-last participant in the Big’s Backyard Ultra event in Tennessee, and has broken a world record. (YouTube screenshot)

A Chilliwack ultra runner came in second place in a last-man-standing, multi-day race.

Ihor Verys, 29, competed in the Big’s Backyard Ultra in Bell Buckle, TN, for four days (and nights) and was one of the last two competitors from a starting line-up of 75.

The original roster comprised men and women from around the world who had to qualify at home before being invited to the event.

In the end Harvey Lewis, a 47-year-old ultra runner from Cincinnati, OH, won the world championship event.

Verys ran 445.83 miles (more than 717 km) in 90:44:04, over the course of the event. Lewis ran 450 miles, at a time of 94:16:36.

In this race, participants need to complete a 4.1667-mile loop within a 60-minute window. The clock starts again every hour, and the sooner they finish each loop, the longer they can rest, eat, and even sleep for a few minutes.

The daytime portion of the race weaves through a forest, while the nighttime portion of the race takes place on roads.

The previous record for this style of race was 101 laps, which was surpassed Wednesday morning by just three runners - Verys, Lewis and Bartosz Fudali from Poland. After that record-breaking lap, Bartosz crossed the start line and then hugged Verys and said “chase him,” before bowing out.

The event was live-streamed on YouTube by the race organizer and that feed has been followed by thousands, with numbers of viewers exploding about 15 minutes before the end of each hour, as runners arrive at their aid tents.

Videographers were in Verys’ tent when he received a call from fellow-Chilliwack runner Gary Robbins on Wednesday morning, who gave him a pep talk and told him everyone is watching and cheering him on.

To watch segments of the race, visit Conversations from the Woodpile on YouTube.

More to come.

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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