In this podcast episode we speak with Harvey Lewis winner of the 2021 Badwater 135 and Big’s Backyard Ultra where he ran 354 miles in 3 1/2 days!
Interview with Harvey Lewis
Harvey Lewis is a school teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio, and accomplished ultra runner. He has represented Team USA at the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 24 Hour World Championship in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017. He qualified for the 2017 championship by running 157.9 miles in 24 hours.
Lewis has completed the Badwater Ultramarathon ten times -winning it in 2014 and 2021. This year he was the last man standing at Big’s Backyard Ultra finishing 354.16 miles in 85 hours.
How Backyard Ultras Work
The backyard ultra race was invented by Lazarus Lake, the founder of the Barkley Marathons, and takes place on his property in rural Tennessee. The race is named after his dog “Bigs”. Here are the rules:
- You have one hour to complete a “yard” which is 4.1667 miles.
- You have to cross the start/finish line within one hour (there are whistles at the 3, 2, and 1 minute marks to warn runners that time is winding down).
- You have to be in the corral before the start of the next yard and make forward progression at the bell.
Repeat this sequence until everyone, but one, quits or fails to finish or start a lap.
In this conversation you will hear how Harvey got his start in endurance running as a teenager, how it took him five years to break 5 hours in the marathon, and his daily “run commute” to work. He also shares what it was like to endure 3 1/2 days of running with little sleep and his love of a plant-based diet.
Harvey chooses a spirit animal at every race. For Big’s Backyard he became the Honey Badger . . . inspired by this video: