This British ultrarunner broke a world record by running more than 337 miles in 81 hours

·2-min read
Photo credit: Film My Run
Photo credit: Film My Run

A British ultrarunner has broken the Backyard Ultra world record.

John Stocker, from Oxfordshire, ran more than 337 miles in 81 hours at the Suffolk Backyard Ultra beginning on Saturday.

Runners taking part have to complete a 4.167 mile lap of Suffolk’s Knettishall Heath every hour until they can’t carry on any longer. Participants must arrive back to the start in time for the next loop or they are knocked out.

According to race organisers, Stocker and fellow runner Matt Blackburn both beat the previous record of 312.5 miles in 75 hours, set by Belgian Karel Sabbe at Big’s Backyard last October. Sabbe told Runner’s World last year that his secret to resting was to 'give into sleep deprivation', turning his headlamp low and walking with his eyes closed so that he was ready for sleep by the time he returned to base.

Stocker and Blackburn both completed 80 laps, before Blackburn pulled out during the 81st lap. As no winner would be declared if he did not complete the lap, Stocker continued to run, completing the lap in 52 minutes, his slowest time.

Race director Lindley Chambers told the BBC: 'What these guys have achieved is pretty incredible.'He added: 'I knew we had the calibre of people taking part and I personally thought we'd do 50 or 60 loops but these guys have gone beyond my expectation and have gone further than anyone else in the world competing in this format.'

Stocker and Blackburn reportedly completed each lap in around 45 to 50 minutes, leaving 10 to 15 minutes after each lap to rest and refuel before heading out for the next lap.

American runner Courtney Dauwalter told the BBC why this race format appealed to her in April: 'It’s a fun mental challenge,' she said, adding that backyard ultras are about “finding out what’s possible rather than a race that you want to win. If we don’t limit ourselves, it’s pretty cool what can happen.'

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