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It's the taking part that counts ... isn't it?

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

Yes. Pretty much. Though that doesn't negate the importance of other elements of competition. What is of no-consequence to most, can be extremely important to others. The sub-text being that for most, those elements don't figure in their objectives. You were never going to win the Gold Coast Marathon, but you got your PB, right? It doesn't matter to you who won, but it's a really big deal for the individual who did.

The following account has been run by Last One Standing race directors, including Lazarus Lake, responsible for some of the longest standing events in the format. None with any stake and, as such, not from Australia:

Following last week’s States of Origin, there’s been some conjecture over the validity of one element of the outcome. It’s a shame, as the event is simply part of a small and relatively informal Last One Standing (LOS), during which a small group of people met some well earned personal goals.

When we announced Nicole Jukes’ win and, we believed, first female win in Australia or anywhere by an Australian female, it was based on a set of rules laid down and globally accepted by the Last One Standing format’s creator, Lazarus Lake (Gary Cantrell).

When someone following the post commented in relation to the 2019 Backyard Blister LOS, and the belief that there was a female winner recorded, we naturally looked into it. We were aware of some characteristics around the Race’s status – it was run in conjunction with a 12 hour event on the same course (though they did not overlap) - and situations that arose during its course. However, following discussion with Nicole herself on Sunday evening, we determined that the appropriate action would be to rescind the earlier post, following it with this post: LOS First Ladies

Independently of each other, both Nicole and I also contacted the recorded race winner, Geordi MacLean with our belated congratulations. Though we were puzzled as to why there was little recognition at the time.

2019 Backyard Blister Winner, Geordi MacLean - image: Tail Runner Events

Over the course of the following 12 hours, we (AAA Racing) received some contact advising that the 2019 Backyard Blister event was stopped at nine laps due to the severe weather at the time. Whereupon, following a three hour break, Geordi opted to run the last lap while the remaining two runners took the option not to. Geordi completed her lap and quite legitimately won. Nothing can take that away. Nor should it.

However, under LOS rules and conditions, this event ceased to be a LOS as soon as the stoppage occurred. As such, all remaining participants were DNFs with no LOS winner. It was simply bad luck, and it could happen to any event of any nature, but the impact on a LOS event is significant.

There is no ambiguity about the rules. They are relatively brief, very simple, and are rigid. There are many examples of their ruthless application in the last few years. From the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, where Radek Brunner, in seemingly great shape, standing there ready to go, but eliminated for not starting at the bell, which he apparently did not hear (internet drop-out, fatigue, whatever), thus handing the win to Michael Wardian. To Frank Chauveau’s unfortunate DQ at Birdy’s Backyard Ultra this August, inside 30 seconds after the start of the first lap, for, crossing back over the line to pick up a water bottle (sic.)

It seems brutal, but the rules are what they are. And there is no rule that states a LOS ultra can legitimately continue beyond a stoppage, should it prohibit the start of the next lap. The event can continue as the organiser sees fit (with regard to safety of the athletes, crew, etc.), but results beyond the stoppage cannot count toward any record or, where qualification for Big’s Backyard Ultra is concerned, a place on the ‘at large list’. These are not our words, but those of Lazarus Lake himself.

Laz has stated this both publicly on several occasions, and in communication by email when I specifically raised potential for stoppage due to weather, in the lead up to the inaugural Backyard World Championships in October 2020.

But to quote, and in response to the question, ‘Once the backyard is started, are we as race directors allowed to Pause the Race for, e.g., 2 hours?’ (Sic.), the answer was:

It would no longer count for any sort of record consideration or to put someone on the at large list.(Sic.)

A record by its simplest definition, is:

To achieve something no other person or thing has achieved Merriam-Webster

There is nothing in this that takes any credit from Geordi MacLean’s result at the 2019 Backyard Blister. On the contrary, she should be getting kudos (not of the Strava kind!) for being stoic enough to sit it out and finish and win, under the conditions of the event as it had become.

For Last One Standing purposes, however, Nicole Jukes is the first Australian female to win a Last One Standing event, either here in Australia or anywhere else.

You can make your own mind up of course and everyone is entitled to their thoughts and opinions. Though no one is entitled to their own facts.

Nicole Jukes, final lap, 2022 States of Origin - image: Running Paparazzi

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