Rasselbock Sherwood BYU 02-Mar-2024 - Chris Johnson Race Report

Created by : Amy Brooks On : Sun, 03/10/2024 - 12:03
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Rasselbock Sherwood BYU 02-Mar-2024 - Chris Johnson Race Report
Back in March 2023, Rasselbock Backyard Ultra literally landed in our backyard. A few harriers dipped their toes into this multi lap format for the first time on the Sherwood Pines course. 4.167 mile loops that competitors must complete and then be ready for the next loop to start within an hour. Finish outside the hour or fail to enter the starting corral and your race is over. The race can only have one winner, the person who runs one loop more than everyone else. The rest of the entrants receive a DNF souvenir!
Fast forward a year and the race was back, this time with more of a buzz. Same format, but now it was a Silver Medal event and a step along the journey to the pinnacle race of the Backyard Series – Bigs Backyard Ultra in Tennessee.
The race attracted a high caliber of ultra runners from around the UK, some searching for places in the national team, UK records and a ticket into a Gold Medal race…. Oh and we nearly forgot, a group Harriers, who were chasing their own dreams. Henry, Jono, Nat, Stuart, Kate, Adam J and Matt D were all in for the weekend, mainly to see how many calories they consume during the race without feeling guilty!
At 12pm on Saturday 2nd March the bell rang for lap (yard) one. The 130 starters crossed the start line for the first time,  smiling and laughing for a leisurely paced first lap… little did we know that the last harrier standing would cross the line 26 yards (hours) later on Sunday at 2pm!
At the end of each completed yard runners enter a finish area and can use any spare time they have to reflect, refuel, change kit and receive help from their support team. No assistance is allowed whilst out on the course. Erik (Mr Rasselbock) then gives the runners a 3, 2 and 1 minute warning to be ready for each lap… the dreaded whistles!
The first 5 laps passed and the team looked strong, despite the rain and muddy sections on the course.  However, this is when the race difficulty turns up a notch. The next 12 laps (should they get that far) have to be completed in the dark with a head torch on.
The night was cold and dry but not for the faint hearted. The muddy sections added a tricky dimension and runners had to remain focussed at all times. As the runners arrived back to basecamp they were welcomed by many Harriers supporters and volunteers who had popped across to see the action and help however they could. This would turn out to be a pattern across the weekend and the BYU runners will be forever thankful for their support and encouragement. Hot drinks, massages, blister repairs, you name it they did it, no questions asked. 
Every single Harrier smashed their goals and hope they have inspired club members to give this type of event ago. As the laps ticked by the first to fall was Stuart with an amazing 7 yards (29.16 miles), Kate smashed out another few and finished with 10 yards (41.66 miles). 
The runners were now heading into Sunday and fatigue and tiredness was setting in. So much so that at one point the team felt they were hallucinating. As they set off they were convinced the Gruffalo was running towards them shouting words of encouragement… luckily for them it was only Steve Carr who had popped out to cheer them on in the early hours and get in a few miles of his own. 
The support out on the course was phenomenal. The team were pushing each other on to complete “just one more lap” and deep into the night club member Adam pulled out all the stops to get the runners back on the line. 
The next two to fall were Hannah and Henry smashing out an incredible 15 laps (62.5 miles) and 16 laps (66.66 miles) respectively. It turns out the Jack Daniels in their tent was just too tempting. Still an amazing effort by them both.
The field was beginning to slim down as runners tried pushed themselves to achieve the holly grail of BYU running- 24 yards (100 miles). As the sun rose on lap 19, the headtorches were tossed to one side and each lap needed grit and determination. More supporters arrived and cheered as Adam, Matt, Nat and Jono all completed their 24th lap (yard) and 100 miles. In fact it turns out 35 runners managed this achievement, meaning it was a new UK record! 
Enough was enough for Adam, Nat and Jono, lunch was calling. Matt however, managed to head back out completing two more laps (yards) (108.33 miles). 
With the harriers team all safely home and tucked up in bed after smashing all expectations the race was not over. The women’s UK record of 36 laps (yards) was smashed. Sarah Perry dipping out on 41 laps (yards) leaving Mike Raffan to complete a solo lap and take the title with 42 laps (yards).
The event is truly inspiring, if you are looking for a challenge that will drive you crazy, but pull at your heart strings at the same time this is it. You are likely to remember key parts on the course, twigs/arrows/rocks that signify your own walking and running sections. You will take home enough food to last you a week because you have over prepped and you will laugh and cry with people who will become friends for life.

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