Last weekend I did my first backyard ultra at the Nuuksio Backyard Ultra! It was fun, hot, exhausting and this is my long-winded race report.


For the last year my running motivation has been lacking a bit. Not that I didn’t want to run, I did, but I wasn’t super excited about the races I signed up for. I felt a bit same as I did when I got tired of chasing new road race records but to lesser extend. Didn’t want to miss the race trips with my friends so I signed up anyway!

So it was the perfect time to try the NBU. It was race I knew to be a lot of fun even if I hadn’t run it myself. It was also something completely new to me both as a race and as a race format.

My training for the NBU had been okay. Not poor nor great but something in between. My mileage for the last two weeks before the race was really low while the number of treats was high. Coincidentally the numbers on my scale were up, too!

Nevertheless I was in a good place. I didn’t need to be fast for this race. Being well rested before the race just might work for my benefit. Not having any idea how I would do meant I didn’t need to set any numerical goal for myself, no stress there. The only concern I had was how I’d do with the race format and there was only one way to find out.


First things first; the only reason I did as good as I did was only possible due the help of Jaakko, Karry, my dad and rest of the ad hoc crew that formed over time there. I can’t stress this enough, thank you ❤️

NBU 📸 Nuuksio Backyard Ultra

The race had two routes, a day and a night. It started at 6pm on Friday with two day loops, then 8 night loops (8pm -> 4am) and then switched back to day route. Day route is mostly on single track trails and night route mostly on a paved road.

The backyard ultra is a form of ultramarathon race where competitors must consecutively run the distance of 6,706 meters (4.167 miles) in less than one hour. When each lap is completed, the remaining time within the hour is typically used to recover for the next hour’s race.

Exactly one hour after a backyard ultra’s first starting time, the competitors run an additional 6706 meters with a one-hour window for completion. These distance loops are repeated hourly. The race ends when the last runner or runners either concede or fail to finish the distance within the allotted time frame.


Loops 1-2

First two loops went by rather quickly. It was pretty warm but nothing too crazy, cloudy skies helped a lot. I ran together with Kati and besides getting good company I benefitted on her experience on that race. She started a bit faster so we wouldn’t get stuck behind all the other runners but eased down the pace as we entered more technical section.

First loop 50:59 and the second loop 51:11.

NBU 📸 Jarmo Koskela

Loops 3-10

Between the day and night route I changed my shoes from Speedgoat 4 to lighter Rocket X. Night loops were easier and faster than the day loops and it was very different as you could see all the other runners on the road, on the trails you see only a handful of runners at any given time. After a couple of hours we took our reflective vests and head torches to keep us safe from the six or so cars we saw the whole time on the road. Night was cooler and I didn’t have any issues with the heat.

NBU 📸 Nuuksio Backyard Ultra

Running was quite effortless and easy. Night loops almost felt like something we need to do before the race actually gets started. I had about 11 minutes at the aid station and that was a plenty of time to do everything and usually even to close my eyes for a couple of minutes. Washing my teeth after all those gels was one of the highlights of the race! I wondered how the transfer to day loop would feel like, I didn’t take my good mood and easy running for granted after that.

Slowest loop 49:52, fastest 47:02 and the average was 48:47.

Loops 11-23

Switched back to Speedgoat 4. The first loop on the day route was clearly harder than the night loop. While the easy loops would be behind now, the second day loop felt easier again. Until it didn’t. Sometime early in the morning I was feeling quite low. I was sleepy and maybe a bit low on energy, I remember two loops being particularly difficult. Not ready to quit just yet but I didn’t know how many such laps I’d have in me.

Luckily the miracle of caffeinated energy gel and some real food lifted me back on my feet and I felt a lot better afterwards. So far I had been mostly running with Kati. She kept perfect pace, not too slow or fast. On some laps we started together but finished a bit different time and I was surprised when I heard she dropped out. Bummer! On a completely selfish level though, I got another superb crew member!

The time between loops was getting shorter and felt even shorter. Now it was only a matter of taking care one thing that I had planned to do and then the mandatories, that’s it. For example I planned to visit toilet at some point but something more urgent came up and I never did. Triage!

NBU 📸 Jarmo Koskela

What I love about this race is the supportive atmosphere. I don’t know if it’s different at the top of the game but all I got from other runners was support and good company. This is a group of people I want to belong to. I felt like everyone was doing their best and less competing against others. Not that there is anything wrong with competitiveness, that can be part of it without turning ugly! Thanks for the good times and stories.

The weather got hotter as the day went on and I felt how I was overheating. During the night I didn’t carry water with me but now I chugged a half litre of water or sports drink every single loop and some more on the aid station. I started watering my cap before heading for the a loop and later my crew would just pour cold water on my back.

Last five or so hours I was getting gradually more tired. On one lap my lungs were making a weird hissing sound on every breath in. My mind wandered to the possibility of not starting the next loop, a decision I tried always to push a away. Just focus on getting back there on time. You can think about it again then.

NBU 📸 Jarmo Koskela

There were two spots on the route I always checked my loop time, just to see I was on track with my pace. Other than that I didn’t really follow any stats or even the passing of time at all. For the longest time I didn’t know which loop it was nor what time of the day it was – it was irrelevant. This went on until I mentioned this to someone who filled me in.

The 23rd lap was the slowest and the most difficult. Someone had dropped out the previous loop so I figured I could be one position higher in the results if I could finish the loop. This was on the only time I let myself be affected by what the others were doing. Anyway, the official rules state that there is a winner and everyone else gets DNF. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back on time and once I was close enough to know I would, I wasn’t sure if I’d start another loop.

I had a bit more than two minutes at the aid station and still unsure what to do. My crew was prepared for quick stop and ushered me to carry on surprisingly diplomatically 🙂 Of course they had it right and I gave it another try. The last attempted lap started better than I anticipated but soon my running turned into walking and I wasn’t able to get myself up to speed again. My legs had come to halt pretty quick, just a few loops back they were tired and sore but functional. After running 1,5km I stopped realising I wouldn’t be able to finish in time. I turned and walked back to start.

NBU 📸 Nuuksio Backyard Ultra

23 loops, 154km.

Slowest loop 57:37, fastest 50:42 with the average of 54:07.


So am I happy with the race? Yes. While I didn’t have a set goal, I thought secretly that maybe on a perfect day a bit more than 24 loops would be possible. This, ofcourse, was based more on guesswork and ignorance than anything else. Taking into account the weather, my training and the other names left of the board with me I’m really happy with the result.

NBU 📸 Nuuksio Backyard Ultra

After the race I felt weak, my muscles were sore, I had a headache and I was over heated. Nothing out of ordinary for a race in a weather like that. I mean yes, same as in Covid-19 but what would be the odds?

Dunno but I’ll be sure to buy (online) lottery this week.