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Jason Williams dethrones champion Fabrizio Alvera to win Bermuda’s Backyard Ultra

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Leading lady: Louise Wells, left, proved the last woman standing finishing inside the top six overall

After more than 19 hours of racing and a gruelling 83.3 miles, Jason Williams earned personal redemption after being crowned Bermuda’s Backyard Ultra Champion.

Last year, Williams ran for more than 24 hours but had to settle for the runner-up spot behind Fabrizio Alvera in the inaugural event, but this time around he was not to be denied.

In an intriguing twist of fate, it again came down to a battle of wits between the pair after they outlasted the rest of the 100 competitors in the ultimate test of perseverance and resilience

However, as the time came to embark on the 20th loop of the punishing 4.167 mile course, the defending champion surprisingly conceded defeat leaving Williams to complete one last lap of victory in the allotted hour time limit for triumph.

Last man standing: Jason Williams was crowned champion after more than 19 hours of racing and a gruelling 83.3 miles covered (Photograph supplied)

“I’m really proud to have won because I definitely didn’t expect it,” said a surprisingly sprightly Williams, who conceded he had prepared himself to surpass last year’s efforts in order to win.

“I was hoping to be competitive, but I’m really delighted to have won.

“When it came down to myself and Fabrizio in the later stages I thought he would be unbeatable just like last year.

“I really thought he would go the distance again, but surprisingly just before the start of the next loop he pulled out.

“Coming into the race I definitely thought it would go on longer than last year and so when I knew I had just one loop left on my own to win it gave me confidence knowing I had gone longer before and could do it.

“There was also a bit of relief when Fabrizio decided to pull out because prior to that lap I had been in a bit of pain.

“After last year this was also a bit of redemption for myself to win this time round.”

The epic challenge commenced a day earlier on the shoreline of Clearwater Beach on Saturday morning with the competitors pushing themselves to the limit in a race unlike any other on the island.

Runner-up: Fabrizio Alvera, who won last year’s inaugural event, settled for second place this time round (photographs by Ras Mykkal)

While some set off on the 4.167 mile loop course across beach, road and grasslands at running pace, others opted to take a more leisurely stride, but all had the same goal in mind, making it back to the start line before the race clock hit 60 minutes, with the second lap, and every subsequent one thereafter, starting each hour on the hour.

As each lap elapsed and the gruelling hours took their toll the numbers in the field began to dwindle.

By nightfall and approaching 34 miles completed that starting number had been reduced to 25 and that quickly reduced after the next lap to the final six competitors; Williams, Alvera, James Roberts, Jonny Chapman, Richard Howells and the final woman Louise Wells.

As midnight passed and with 16 laps completed, Howells bowed out after an impressive debut appearance, leaving just two runners as Alvera and Williams went head-to-head in a repeat of last year’s showdown.

After a further three laps completed and 19 hours of running, Williams took to the starting box as he waited patiently to see if Alvera would join him on lap 20.

However, as the clock approached the hour mark Alvera surprisingly conceded, leaving his only remaining rival to complete one final solo procession lap.

Pushing the limits: Competitors take part in the gruelling Bermuda’s Backyard Ultra event at Clearwater

“Heading out my own for that last lap was really exciting because I knew I could do it and I was running for the win,” added Williams, who reflected on the personal inner battle of completing such a challenge.

“It’s mostly about the mental battle with yourself and fighting against the thoughts in your head of stopping.

“Ultra running is all about being broken down to your core and being able to rebuild. You have those negative thoughts going through your head throughout, but you just have to keep going.”

As well as reigning supreme, Williams also had the added surprise of earning a spot on Bermuda’s team for next year’s World Team Championships, joining Alvera who qualified as last year’s champion.

The remaining 12 spots will be filled on the best performances across the qualifying window, which spans the 2022 and 2023 events.

“I’ll be honest, I came into the race not knowing about qualification for the World Championships and so that’s a welcome surprise,” said Williams, who took up ultra running five years ago and is now relishing the chance to continue to help growing the sport on island.

“When I got into ultra running it was to challenge myself. Now I want to help raise the profile of the sport on island, so to have a team competing internationally at the World Championships is fantastic.”

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Published December 03, 2023 at 3:09 pm (Updated December 03, 2023 at 3:14 pm)

Jason Williams dethrones champion Fabrizio Alvera to win Bermuda’s Backyard Ultra

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