Vegan runner obliterates his own backyard ultra record

| 8 August 2023
minute reading time

Harvey Lewis has broken his own record by running 375 miles over four days

In case you don’t know, a backyard ultra is a last-person standing ultramarathon. Competitors run as many laps as they can, for as long as they can, before they cannot go on any further. You only win the race when you become the last person racing and are able to complete one more lap than the last person to drop out. Because there is no definitive finish line, a backyard ultra is as much about mental fortitude as it is physical stamina.

Vegan runner Harvey Lewis is no stranger to the event. He broke the world record in October 2021 with an incredible 85 laps. The run went into the fourth day and covered 354 miles (570 km). The world record has since been broken (this year), but the run still stood as the US record as the race started.

This year, Lewis headed down under to compete in the Dead Cow Gully Backyard Ultra in Australia. The event started on a Saturday and as the runners entered Tuesday, Lewis found himself amongst the final three competitors. He was able to complete 90 laps of the route, totalling 375 miles and breaking his own record by over 20 miles. The eventual winner, Phil Gore, went on to run 102 laps and set a new world record. Lewis still holds the US record for a backyard ultra.

Harvey has been vegetarian for 25 years and vegan for 5. He’s won top ultramarathons including Badwater twice (2014 and 2021) and earlier this year won a 24 hour race, hoping to qualify for the 24 hour world championships.

He recognises the range of reasons to go vegan including for animals, health and environment, and feels it helps his sport.

“I’ve been running ultras for 25 years, to be doing that and to be competitive. I’m not sure anyone in the US can match that – for so many years and still competitive.”

Harvey ate a lot of calories during his epic 375 mile run, including “avocado toast, veggie rolls, Asian noodle soups, mashed potatoes mixed with some vegetable broth, watermelon, Oreos, potato chips, blueberries, vegan grilled cheeze, vegan Mac and cheeze, olives, bananas, sweet potato fries, chia seed coconut pudding, cantaloupe, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and more.”

But Lewis’ incredible feats didn’t stop there. Just 12 days after his record-breaking backyard ultra run, Lewis competed in what is known as the toughest footrace in the world, Badwater 135.  He’s won it twice before and even after running 375 miles two weeks before, he still managed to grab third place. After the race, Lewis said:

“After running 375 miles in 90 hours at Dead Cow Gully Backyard two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I would be chasing a podium finish or to get in just under the wire to finish last. Grateful my body held up and the answer is 3rd male, 5th overall for my 12th consecutive Badwater finish. Once the race started, I couldn’t resist going out hard. Perhaps not the wisest of choices. Much of the credit can be given to my amazing crew.”

Perhaps, alongside all his training and the support of his crew, his vegan diet can be given some credit for his superhuman endurance.


Content sourced and adapted with permission from Great Vegan Athletes. 

About the author
Nicholas Hallows
Nicholas has been vegan since the early 2000s and worked for Viva! between 2017 and 2020 as a Senior Administrator and Web Content Assistant. He is a qualified teacher, specialising in Language and Literacy, and an accredited Proofreader and Editor. He is now a freelance writer covering topics including veganism, mindfulness and minimalism.

You might also like...

Scroll up