Michael Wardian Ran 262.5 Miles Around His Neighborhood to Win the “Quarantine Backyard Ultra”

He ran nonstop for nearly 60 hours

Ultrarunner Michael Wardian
Ultrarunner Michael Wardian.
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
By Tanner Garrity / April 9, 2020 7:00 am

The quarantine has brought out the crazy in all of us. But runners, cabin feverish bunch that they are, have been hit especially hard. Last month, a Frenchman ran a full marathon on his balcony. Then, earlier this week, a man named Michael Wardian ran an ultra-marathon through his neighborhood, an incomprehensible 262.5 miles in nearly 60 hours, as Outside reported.

To be fair, Wardian is used to performing otherworldly running feats. He’s finished 18 Boston Marathons. He’s completed seven marathons on seven continents in seven days (twice). He’s raced horses over mountainous terrain in Wales. He’s run the fastest 50-kilometer ever on a treadmill. But during this latest achievement, he was running through his local neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, where he raced endless 4.2ish mile loops to win the “Quarantine Backyard Ultra.”

The race, which was originally conceived by Gary Cantrell (a renowned ultra-marathon course designer), involves participants cranking out 4.1667-mile loops every 60 minutes for as long as they can possibly go. It’s an absolutely diabolical concept, which is why so many runners love it. It usually takes place in-person — at “Big’s Backyard” in Tennessee, a Swede won it with 68 loops late last year — and everyone who taps out is listed as DNF. So literally only the last man or woman standing is awarded with “finishing” the course.

That ended up being Wardian for this week’s special one-off version of the race. It was organized by Canadian runner Dave Proctor, and over 2,000 runners fired up Zoom to livestream their hour-by-hour jogs on streets and treadmills.

Wardian ended up officially winning two-and-a-half days after the race began, when Czech runner Radek Brunner failed to begin a lap at the exact top of the hour. The commissioners had to stop the race, one of them even crying at the upsetting conclusion. Wardian seemed destined to win either way, though. His last lap was his fastest (?!) and after a quick nap he left for work at his shipping company.

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