The backyard ultra?
Last one standing?
Biggest bunch of nutters you will find gathered in one place?
Whatever you call it, it has become quite a phenomenon over the last few years. But what has it become?
There is no doubt that its original intent, or should I say, Gary Cantrell’s (aka Lazarus Lake) intent is still the focus of many. That is, how far and for how long – ultra running at its purest, maybe. But the evolution of the format has seen it morph into quite something else.
From the first LOS we witnessed firsthand, the 2019 Clint Eastwood, the AAA Racing team was struck by the camaraderie the format of the event engendered. A truly, ‘we’re all in this together,’ feel. The banter in the corral at the start of each lap, the general vibe around the whole field. Fundamentally, the mood, atmosphere and indeed, the practice or ‘MO’ of the events and their ‘cast’ has erred without exception toward inclusion. At least in our experience.
The inclusiveness of the event is surely what has led to its growth and its popularity. From an organisational perspective, we want to see people ‘go deep’. To see the Kevin Mullers, Phil Gores and Ryan Crawfords of this world do their stuff is a spectacle not to be missed. But the jewel in the last one standing crown, is the level playing field presented to anyone who wants to try.
In a sport where so often, the masses who make it viable become a side show to the main event, typically never again seeing the front runners once the gun (or whistle) has gone, on the hour, every hour, everyone is equal, and everyone is back together. Yes, we know someone will endure and win … or maybe jointly be the last DNF. But for the bulk of the event (if we are totting up laps and kms), it is the inclusiveness and equality that stands out. No matter whether you are chasing records or there just to be a part of it, nobody is better than anyone else on the start line.
Indeed, when it comes to the last one standing, whoever he or she might be, then the contribution of those masses cannot be ignored. At last month’s Clint Eastwood, there were 2,707 laps completed, equating to 18,126.32 kms. It was an amazing experience to watch Ryan Crawford and Kevin Muller pull together to contribute 117 and 784 of those laps and kms, but that means the other 187 of those who eventually started, amassed 2,590 and 17,341.72 laps and kms respectively.
So, what does it mean? Well, it means that everyone plays a part in the outcome. No matter if you think you are just part of the crowd, everyone contributes in a way that happens in no other event of any kind.
The bottom line is, whether or not it is the original intent, that the last one standing format is about as inclusive as it gets. And that, more than anything, is the beauty of it. If you do not think you belong, then think again. Last one standing events are growing in number, but they remain unique in their contribution to the running community.
But that’s just my opinion.
AAA Racing & Coaching
Multi-lingually boring people to tears since Adam was a boy!