Pigs Backyard Ultra 2023

Last year it was cold, wet and muddy so we turned up the dial – perhaps a little far.

Once again no one complained about the stream crossings – last year because they were already wet, this year because it gave a few chances each lap to submerge and keep the body temperature down.

Once again for runners the Pig Paddock was a difficult place to be – last year because it was cold and exposed, this year because it was hot and exposed.

Actually, there were no complaints at all. I love the way humans can enter challenging situations and make it work the best they can. Trail and ultra runners are often taking that value to an extreme and it pays off!

I have a huge respect for all the 65 runners that toed the line at the start. Each had their own idea of how far they could go and many of them surpassed it! I wish I could acknowledge each of you personally. Sorry, I’m just going to give a few specific highlights.

Raewyn Nyhof entered about one month before the event with no knowledge of those trails and uncertain she could finish one lap. She was only 1 minute off completing her second lap and is keen to train up for it next year.

Great kickass coffee thanks to Grid Coffee Roasters.

Delicious smoked pulled pork buns and vegan nachos made by Chef Chris with help from his sous chefs, Andrea and Keenan. Huge thanks to Havoc Farm Pork!

Wonderful music from Big Jazz Apple, Jimmy Muir and Piggy Pop.

Shaking my head as Isaac Tripp won the sprint to the first ford for 11 laps.

Nathan Lungley just couldn’t stop smiling.

Sitting in the “spa pool” at the first ford while you poor runners were getting all sweaty running around another lap.

Hearing rumours of hallucinations. Apparently a number of runners saw an eight foot tall pig near the gate to the Pig Paddock in the middle of the night. The same pig was later seen doing karaoke after dawn with a near perfect version of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Maria Mikhisor pushing through to 15 laps, nearly double what she has ever run before, to become the last woman standing!

Andy Smith came in 1 minute late on lap 19 and said, “I knew I shouldn’t have stopped for that pee”. When I asked him if he had more laps in him he said, “I was just going to walk the next one and come in late anyway.”

Auren Clarke and Shannon Rhodes plodded the night away together for 6 more laps. At dawn, when someone said, “At least the rising sun will take away the morning chill.” One of them commented, “What chill? It’s humid and warm out there!”

Finally, at the start of lap 25, Auren turned back leaving Shannon to finish the lap on his own.

My absolute highlight, that literally brought tears to my eyes, was seeing Shannon finish with dozens of his family members cheering him down the final chute! He deservedly won the Shoe Clinic Most Improved Prize by upping his personal best from 17 laps to 25. Just to top it off, he also won the Runners With Beards Last Beard Standing award! Congratulations Shannon!

Watching so many people help out with packing up at the end. Although there’s always a bittersweet moment to the end of an event I loved seeing the magically organic way everyone pulled together to do a little and make a tough job easy!

Looking Forward

Pigs Backyard Ultra 2024 will be on February 10th. Entries open really soon and there are limited early bird spaces.

We are capping at 100. We think that will be the capacity of the Pig Paddock with supporters added and keeping the event small maintains an atmosphere and community that we love. Get in quick to avoid missing out.

We want to see more woman come on board. 11 out of 65 is too low. I recently read research that states NZ is one of 3 countries in the world in which there are more women trail runners than men. This is awesome but needs to be reflected in Backyard Ultras also. We’re a new ‘sport’ so it might take a while.

We have ideas!!! There will be more music/entertainment and probably even more food! Our aim is to make Pigs into New Zealand’s Premier Food, Music and Running festival. Basically we just want everyone to have a really good time!

See you next year for just one more lap!

By Steve

Co-Director of Inch Events

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