US ultrarunner breaks Courtney Dauwalter’s backyard ultra world record

US ultrarunner breaks Courtney Dauwalter's backyard ultra world record

american ultrarunner Jennifer Russo has set a new women’s backyard ultra world record by completing 496.21 km at the Capital Backyard Ultra in Lorton, Va. The 57-year-old mother of three from New Richmond, Ohio, finished the multi-day race Tuesday after running 74 yards—or 74 laps of the 6,706-km course—in a contest that began Saturday.

Top 3 at 2023 Capital Backyard Ultra
The last three standing, from left: Jennifer Russo, Levi Yoder and Scott Snell. Photo: Sarah Smith

The backyard ultra race format requires participants to start one “yard” (loop) every hour on the hour, until only one runner remains. (Backyard racing is designed so that theoretically, runners can complete the 100-mile distance in 24 hours.)

Russo’s latest effort tops the previous women’s world record of 68 yards set by American Courtney Dauwalter at Big’s Backyard Ultra in Bell Buckle, Tenn., in 2020. With this week’s race in Lorton, a suburb of Washington, DC, Russo also becomes the first American female to reach 300 miles (482.8 kilomtres) within 72 hours in any race format . Her 74 yards dela also puts her in a four-way tie for 16th for the longest distance ever covered in the backyard ultra format.

Victoria Brown
Photo: Sarah Smith

These achievements came at the end of a grueling standoff between Russo and Scott Snell of New Jersey. The pair battled alone on the course for almost half a day after Levi Yoder of Dundee, Ohio, who finished with the third-highest total of yards, couldn’t complete his 64th lap. Snell ultimately outlasted Russo in the showdown, winning the event by running 75 yards, or just under 503 km.

The race also saw an outstanding effort by Canada’s Victoria Brown. The runner from Whitby, Ont., racked up the second-highest number of yards among the race’s six female competitors, completing 49 yards and finishing the race in the top six. Brown, who in March broke her own 48-hour Canadian and 72-hour world records at the GOMU (Global Organization of Multi-Day Ultramarathoners) six-day world championships in Policoro, Italy, came just seven laps short of the women’s Canadian backyard ultra record set by Amanda Nelson of Woodstock, Ont., earlier this month at the Race of Champions-Backyard Masters in Rettert, Germany.

Canadian Fellow Justin Wright also cracked the top 10 at the Capital Backyard Ultra. The runner from Leamington, Ont., completed 36 yards—241.4km—to finish 10th overall in the field of 31 competitors.

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