Ultra runners to descend on North Salem’s Mountain Lakes Park for “Backyard Ultra”


Image courtesy of Steep Endurance

This weekend Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem will become an ultra runner’s haven as the park hosts the Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra, presented by Steep Endurance. The race challenges runners to complete 4.166666 miles in one hour…and then do it again and again and again until they are the last runner standing.

This is the race’s fourth year. In 2019, racer Sean O’Connor won with a total distance completed of 133.44 miles, the equivalent of about 32 loops of the course.

“In the end, the ultramarathon is a test of the runner’s own mental and physical endurance—it’s not about who can beat who,” Zbigniew Waśkiewicz, Ph.D, a Polish researcher who studied ultra-marathoners, told Runner’s World magazine.

Image courtesy of Steep Endurance

New this year is a one-loop race for mere mortals who haven’t (yet?) caught the ultra running bug. Runners will set off for one four-mile loop at 8:15 a.m. Saturday morning. Same-day registration is $40.

The Mountain Lakes Ultra will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and continue until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, or until there is only one runner left on the course, whichever comes first. During daylight hours, runners will traverse the ‘day loop,’ which consists of a mix of carriage roads and trails, with approximately 450 feet of elevation change. Between 8:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., runners will be confined to the ‘night loop,’ a simple, out-and-back route along paved and carriage roads inside Mountain Lakes Park.

There are 62 entrants in this year's race as of Friday, June 15. Most are from the tri-state area, though a few have traveled from further afield, including one from London and others from Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia.  

Running just over four miles in one hour equates to about a 15-minute per mile pace. Racers who choose a faster pace will have more time to rest before the loop begins again on the hour mark. But, more time between loops means more energy being burned out on the trails. Each racer will have to determine the strategy that they believe will work best for them. And in the end, only one runner will be crowned winner of this one-of-a-kind race.

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