Watch: ‘The race that never ends’ – Delta Backyard Ultra attracts running enthusiasts
Dr Jacov Lalou won the DBU after successfully completing 38 laps and covering just over 254kms.
The three remaining runners Wandisile Nongodlwana, right, Jacov Lalou, centre, and Tembinkosi Sojola take part in the Delta Backyard Ultra trail race, 2 May 2022, at Delta Park in Randburg. Picture: Michel Bega
A group of intrepid adventure runners set out on what can only be described as a contender in the ultimate test of physical endurance at 7am on Sunday.
Just over 60 runners lined up at the starting line of the third edition of the Delta Backyard Ultra (DBU), at Delta Park in Randburg.
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The race sees competitors running consecutive loops of 6 706 metres in less than one hour. Each hour a new lap begins. If a runner doesn’t complete in the hour, they are eliminated.
If a runner finishes in, for example, 45 minutes, they can use the remaining time to rest and refuel. This continues until there is one runner remaining.
R20 000 cash prize
The winner of DBU 2022 takes home R20 000 cash from PSG Wealth Rosebank, an entry to Ultra-Trail Cape Town 2022 and a pair of Altra trail running shoes.
Running through the day and Sunday night, at 10am on Monday morning there were only three competitors remaining: Dr Jacov Lalou, who is running to raise funds for CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA; Tembinkosi Sojola, a previous winner of the Backyard Ultra in Durban; and Wandisile Nongodlwana, who recently competed in the Boston, New York and Chicago marathons.
At this stage, the runners had already completed approximately 180kms over the course of 27 hours. And they were still looking strong. In the running community this is a race that is endearingly referred to as “the race that never ends”.
At 7pm Nongodlwana dropped out leaving only two to battle it out to the end.
At just before 9pm Sajola left the route and stumbled back to camp unable to complete the lap, thus removing himself from the race. Lalou finished the 38th lap, setting a new South African Backyard Ultra record. In his run he completed just over 254kms.
Race director Martin Crous says the popularity of the race is growing each year. In 2019 there were 26 entrants, and in 2021 there were 46 competitors lined up at the start.
The format of this race was invented a few years ago by US ultra-running legend Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, founder of the infamous Barkley Marathons.
The race is particularly challenging mentally, not only due to constantly repeating the route, but also since there can only be one winner all other entrants record a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to their name on the results list.