Quarantine Backyard Ultra By Ben Coyle

On July 11 I took part in the Quarantine Backyard Ultra.

According to Runner’s World, the backyard ultra format is a creation of Barkley Marathons creator Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, who hosts the annual Big’s Backyard Ultra. The last-man-standing event requires runners to run 4.167 miles at the start of every hour until there is one runner left standing. ­

With the challenges of Covid-19 physical distancing, a group of Canadian runners thought to put the challenge on-line.  The idea is to join runners in an online community utilizing the Zoom meeting platform to run a simultaneous “race”. 

Ben in his garage ready to start running

This is not the only online community race, of course. I remember hearing interviews with some of the runners of the Red Bull Wings for Life race. I had thought about taking part in an event like this. And frankly, from a logistics standpoint, it is a tempting way to scratch that ultra itch that I cannot seem to shake.

For this race you stay on video through Zoom at your start and finish line. I chose my garage.  Requirements are to run 4.167 miles within an hour, and to be on the start line at the top of each hour. 

Ben starting out on a loop from his backyard.

I had been thinking about the race until the week before, but didn’t commit.  After getting approval from my support crew, I signed up and I solidified my route.  Opting for something that was as straight as possible with few turns, and I could stay mostly facing traffic. 

Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate, getting up to 98 degrees in Orange. Even at the 6 am start it was feeling warm. 

Laps 1 and 2 felt great!  For laps 3 and 4, my amazing crew came along, and I learned my chosen route was not stroller friendly.

Sasha waving to Ben in the driveway

I’d say I hit a groove trying to stay relaxed, getting rest and liquids and food (PB & Js, breakfast burritos, apples, chips, snack mix) while waiting to start the next loop.

So I am not the best in the heat. A little after midday I was struggling. My 11:30 miles still allowed for plenty of time but it was getting tough.

I have run a few other ultras, and I knew around 30 is always a mental dip. My crew (Amanda, Sasha, and Sagey) got me through to my second wind.

Ben running by his house with his dog running behind him

It got hard to breathe in the heat but I felt okay until about mile 50 when the wheels tried to come off again.  With my crew applying ice and getting me as ready as possible, I was able to dig deep to get to the 100K mark!

There were some tough times, and the heat was a monster, but I was able to get in a memorable ultra experience.  The race organizers mentioned that getting to 100K put you in the top 10% of the registered racers, meaning 90% had dropped before 100K.

In truth I was hoping to go farther, but based on the day, I am very pleased with notching a 100K.  Thanks to my fabulous crew and a format that provided a community atmosphere in a difficult global crisis.  There are running challenges to endeavor.  Get out there and run!

Oregon Food Run By Amy Katz

While I’ve seen a lot of people continuing their regular training routine in hopes of competing in races in the near future, I have not had the same motivation. My runs have been short and few and far between.

However, when my good friend who lives in Portland told me she joined the Oregon Food Run, I knew it was just what I needed to get back into a running routine. With options to run 30, 60, 90, or 120 miles in 6 weeks, I opted for the 120 miles.

I know that running an average of 20 miles a week may not seem like much to some, it was more than I had been doing. And I figured it was a workload my body could handle without aggravating my chronic sciatica.

Amy on a run in front of a large plumeria tree in bloom

One of the things that really got me excited about this challenge was that it supports food banks and hunger relief programs. As noted by the Oregon Food Run, “Before Covid-19, 1 in 9 Americans struggled with food insecurity. As a result of Covid-19, food insecurity is expected to double worldwide.”

The dates to log miles started June 21 and went through August 2.

At first I was consistent with running around 20 miles a week. But unfortunately at the start of the 4th week, I developed a terrible headache and some stomach issues which lasted over a week. I still don’t know what caused it, but it may have been a stomach virus. This meant I had some miles to make up for during the last 2 weeks.

But I was determined to complete the challenge, and on August 1 I ran 10 miles, my longest run since the beginning of March.

Amy jumping in the air after finishing the Oregon Food Run

If you’re interested in participating in the Oregon Food Run, wave 2 of the challenge begins August 9.

Fun Facts:

  • All of my runs started from my front door, and I never ran the same route twice.
  • My shortest run was 2 miles, and my longest run was 10 miles.
  • I averaged 10:30 pace during the challenge.
  • Most listened to podcasts: Influencer Entrepreneurs, The Chopped Podcast, and Rebel Boss Ladies.
  • Most listened to music: Arcade Fire station on Amazon Music.

Recipe Corner By Amy Katz Featuring Sherri Ellerby

One of the things I look forward to most every summer is trying some of the delicious homegrown tomatoes from Fred Cowles and Sherri Ellerby. They grow a variety of heirlooms, as well as vegetables such as peppers and onions, in their backyard.

Basket full of heirloom tomatoes

Sherri told me one of her go-to dinner recipes is the Cherry Tomato Pasta with Fresh Basil from my website Veggies Save The Day. It’s a quick and easy Mediterranean dish you can make with only a handful of ingredients. I love Sherri’s photo of the finished recipe!

Blue and green bowl full of bowtie pasta with cfresh herry tomato and basil sauce.

Did you get to try some of Fred and Sherri’s tomatoes this summer? Let me know your favorite recipe to use them in!

Treasurer’s Report By Victor Gambone

Total Cash Balance, Beginning  July 1, 2020 4,792.05
Cash Inflows 67.67
Cash Outflows-First Thursday
Cash Outflows-RRCA Insurance
Cash Outflows-Banquet
Cash Outflows-Uniforms
Cash Outflows-Social Gatherings
Cash Outflows-Other 234.04
Net Change in Cash   (166.37)
Total Cash Balance, Ending July 31, 20204,625.68

10% Discount at A Snail's Pace Running Shop

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