Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Ben’s Backyard Ultra

Last year, Vakava member Ben and his wife, hosted the Inaugural Forsta Upplagan (first edition) Lindstrom Bakgard Ultra after having recently moved to a house which abuts Linstrom’s Allemnsratt Park. This year, Ben hosted the Andra Upplagan (second edition).

Over the past couple years, I’ve been dealing with right posterior tibial tendonitis. I had been thinking about running another half marathon, but wasn’t too stoked about the courses available. Hence, when Ben announced his Bakgard Ultra, this gave me some training motivation to ramp up the distance.

For those unfamiliar with the backyard ultra format, there are some official rules. Briefly, participants must complete a 4.4 mile loop starting on the hour and ending within the hour to be eligible to continue. Most backyard ultras last 24 hours or until no one is willing to go any longer.

Ben’s version is more informal, largely designed for the Vakava team and some friends. Hence, the loop is closer to 4 miles and relatively easy. Biking is allowed, along with skipping laps or starting late (although you have to follow the rules to be eligible for the overall trophy). Hanging out is also highly encouraged along with potluck food, beer, yoga, and kuub. Last year, Vakava member Craig Cardinal took the win with 28 miles and seven laps. I had a work party and so arrived late to the noon start and due to my tendonitis, only made it a full three laps and two partials (partials get part of a sticker on the official board). 


Craig winning the inaugural 2021 Lindstrom Bakgard Ultra and last year's board (note the partial stickers).

Last year's official results. I like the bikers.

When Ben sent out the invite for the Andra Upplagan, I had a goal of 28 mile to make it a full ultra, but my training didn’t go so well. On my first 10.5 mile run my tendonitis really flared. It got better on subsequent 10.5 mile runs but I wasn’t interested in pushing the distance so that was my longest run prior to the ultra. After my poor training, I scaled back my goal to 20 miles, for five laps. 

The Andra Upplagan course.

The Andra Upplagan was held on July 30th, starting at 10 am. Fortunately it wasn’t too hot, but it was sunny. We had a large pack on the first lap but by the second I was the only woman with a few guys. The pack slowly dwindled throughout the day (although technically finishing the lap faster won’t get you any closer to the win other than more recovery time). We were running the loop in just over 40 minutes which meant 15+ minutes of recovery in between. Temps were already a toasty 79 degrees at the start and climbed to the upper 80s by mid-afternoon. The first half of the lap was mostly shaded through the forest but then we ran nearly a mile on paved roads before doing a fairly open section through the fields. 

Most of the crew for the Andra Upplagan (a few had already left by the time we did this photo).

After eating a large breakfast, I only hydrated between the first and second laps and took down a cookie between the second and third. After the third lap though, I was ready for some serious fueling. Someone had brought Seven Layer Dip and the saltiness of this combined with some protein and a more “real food” feel was awesome. After a couple scoops of dip, I had a handful of fruit (cherries or watermelon), and then finished with another cookie.

The chillin' scene in the shade under Ben's deck between laps. Craig just got more water and the food is closest to the house.

Teammate Alex joined us for the fourth lap. He was fresh and kept the pace hot, even for Craig. I had noticed on the previous laps that the guys started a bit fast and then slowed but not on this lap! We weren’t going that fast but seeing as I was now running farther than I’d ran all year and temps were climbing into the mid-80s, my heart rate really jacked up towards the end of that fourth lap. At least Alex brought some leftover Costco cake and a piece of that cold was amazing before starting the 5th lap which I scaled back a tad and ran with coach Mark. I was still breathing hard and struggling a bit out in the heat and called it a day after that (well, except that I was tempted to keep going even though my body said no and I started on another loop before calling it and later walked almost 2 miles).
Heart rate graph of my laps. You can see my heart rate really got higher on the 4th lap and then didn't rebound as well before my last lap.

While my tendonitis definitely flared the next day, my muscles didn’t, which I attribute to the 15+ minutes of rest between laps.

According to my Garmin, I clocked 20 miles in 4 hours and 42 minutes with 3 hours and 30 minutes of “on time,” climbing 575 feet (very flat land!), and burning 1,949 calories.

We had better run participation this year compared to last with two people bailing at 20 miles, an additional two completing a conventional marathon, and Craig taking the win again at 28 miles. He says “someone has to make it an ultra!” 


Craig taking the win for the second year and this year's board.

The super sweet traveling trophy. Craig needs some competition so flag down a Vakava member and ask to be invited to the Tredje Upplagan in 2023!