33 runners out on yard 19.
the drumbeat continues.
a little after 0100 on the first night.
these are the times that try men’s souls.

one of the hardest tricks to master in ultras
is to keep doing one hour at a time
when thinking about the entire task ahead would break your spirit.

and that is in a normal ultra
a race that has a finish line.
a race that has a finite expanse stretching out in front of you.

in the backyard you have not only to think of the indefinite distance ahead
but to consider that,
if you are one of 33,
for 32 of you the effort will be futile.

33 runners are out there in the cold and the dark
with a war going on between their body and their mind.
the key to survival is to be able to shrink your focus to only the lap you are on.
to do that lap and stick to the routine that has carried you this far
and must carry you on indefinitely.

when a backyard goes deep
the participants experience ebbs and flows
it is not a solid wall of resolve.
it is not a continuous thread of strength.
you must be able to survive dipping close to the edge
and then pulling yourself back.

the first night is the worst.
and this one is reaching into its deepest depths right now.
surviving to see the sunrise will be an act of sheer will.
especially when you are enduring all this for a 3% chance of success
and a 97% chance of becoming just a magnificent dnf.