FARC Members Participate in Grueling Endurance Event

The Quarantine Backyard Ultra started on Saturday, April 4th, and captivated runners and non-runners alike. The format was simple, runners completed 4.167 mile laps every hour until only 1 runner was left standing. The entire event was broadcast over video conference making it a spectacle like no other. FARC had 4 runners participate: Pat Early, Chris Koehler, Rob Tidwell, and Ben Tidwell.

By Monday only 2 runners remained and in the end, Michael Wardian from Arlington was crowned the last runner standing. Mike ran 63 laps adding up to over 262 miles. For his efforts, he was awarded the Golden Toilet Paper Roll (it was a free event, after all).

The ending was a bit controversial when the runner-up, Radek Brunner, was disqualified because he did not start his lap on the hour. Radek was on his treadmill but race organizers deemed that he did not “…leave the coral when the bell rang.”



Ben Tidwell – Youngest PARTICIPANT to pass 6 laps

Our very own Ben Tidwell from King George became a sensation after people noticed there was a 13-year-old laying down laps with the best of them. 25 laps to be precise, covering a total distance of 104.25 miles. When asked about all the coverage he received he said “It’s kind of weird. I am not used to people knowing how far I run.” Prior to this, his longest run was 76 miles at the Crooked Road 24 Hour this past November.

Ben ran his first mile race when he was 6 years old and started running with the Rappahannock Ospreys at 9. At 10, Ben started running 5ks and on some weekends he would go for 15 to 20 mile runs in the mountains with his dad. He ran his first 50k at 11.

Ben started the event with his dad, Rob, who said that Ben “ran him into the ground” on the 6th lap. After lap 7, his dad decided he had enough. Ben got into “the zone” and just kept going. Only 37 other runners completed more laps than Ben! To put that in perspective, according to Runner’s World, “the field included 2,400 athletes from over 55 countries, including a group of elite runners like 2019 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc champion Courtney Dauwalter, 2019 Big’s Backyard champion Maggie Guterl, 2014 Badwater champion Harvey Lewis, Last Vol State 500K champion Greg Armstrong.”


Ben’s story has been picked-up by Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, and Running Magazine just to name a few.


I’m sure if you’ve ever been to a local race you’ve heard the name Tidwell. Check out the interview with the family on The Roots Podcast.

Pat Early

Use the arrows to read about all the runners.

1) Have you done anything like this before? 

No. I got into ultra running about 2.5 years ago and have done 10 ultras including a few 100 milers but never a race like this.

2) How did you find out about this event? 

A member of DQTC  posted a link to it in our group chat. At first, I had no interest in participating. I had been training for the Umstead 100 miler which was scheduled for April 4th but canceled. As races continued to be canceled and various parks and trails started to close my perspective changed and I decided to give it a try.

3) What was your strategy?

Leveraging the experience from previous ultras my goal was to run very easy during the early laps and focus on finishing 24 hours/100miles. I planned to play anything past 24 hours by ear depending on how I felt. I had to work Monday morning and did have some concern that even if I was running well I would eventually have to stop. I finished most laps between 40 and 45 minutes.

4) What did you do to prepare if anything and how did you handle fueling during the event? 

The start time of 9 am felt late. There wasn’t much to prepare. Since it was based at home there was no concern about bathroom lines, bringing enough gear, water and/or food availability etc. I set up the Zoom feed in my front door and put a mat on the dining room floor. I had a laundry basket full of various clothing options and put out a bunch of food on the dining room table. My wife was also prepared to cook a number of things including hot dogs, tater tots, and quesadillas.

5) Did you sleep at all during the event? 

Nope. There was a two hour stretch around 2 am that was tough. Other than that it wasn’t too bad.

6) In general, tell us about your experience.

The overall experience was awesome. I ended up completing 30 laps (125 miles) finishing somewhere around 29th place. I finished the 24th loop in 23:41:25 which was roughly a 3 hour PR for 100 miles. At one point Bert Jacoby called to tell me I was running too fast. This may have been true, but a 10 min pace gave me about 18 minutes between laps and this cycle worked well. My kids wrote motivational chalk messages on the court. DQTC provided exceptional support. Folks would show up unannounced in my court and wait for me to come to my house at the beginning of each loop. They would run a loop and provide encouragement. At the beginning of the next loop, someone else would be standing there ready to provide support 6 feet away! This really helped from laps 25-30. Somewhere around lap 27 I was bumped to the elite feed and started getting a lot of texts and Facebook messages which also helped me keep going towards the end.  I had set 30 laps as a goal. After laps 28 and 29 I was having trouble eating and drinking enough. At 30 hours I decided to call it a day and get ready for work on Monday.

7) Would you consider doing something like this again? 

Yes! This type of race format plays to my strengths. Being able to run the distance comfortably and have time to rest/recover before the next loop is huge. I will definitely do a race like this again!

8) How did you do your laps? 

All of my laps were outside. The weather was perfect! I ran variations of about 5 different loops. All of the details are posted on my Strava page.

9) What do you think of the way the whole thing ended with the disqualification? 

I respect the race director’s decision. The rules were very clear at the beginning of the race. That being said it a disappointing way to have things end. Radek and Wardian appeared to have plenty in the tank. It appeared both were on track to break the record and probably hit at least 70 hrs.


Rob and Ben Tidwell

Use the arrows to read about all the runners.

1) Have you done anything like this before? 

Rob:  I’ve done a few timed ultras before.  A couple of months ago, I ran an informal backyard ultra that the Chesapeake Bay Running Club organized. The course was shorter than four miles, the course was intentionally hilly, and the event only lasted 8 hours because the park closed at sunset…besides that, it was just like the original backyard ultra (ha!).

Ben: No, just a few timed runs.

2) How did you find out about this event? 

Rob:  About a week and a half before the event, I saw a post about it on Facebook post from Sarah Smith, who directs the Capital Backyard Ultra in Potomac, MD. I signed up the day I learned about it.

3) What was your strategy?

Rob:  Ha!  My strategy was to keep up with Ben as long as I could, then outlast him….that didn’t work out so well. We both generally wanted to finish each lap in 46-52 minutes.

Ben: I was just planning to try to run one more loop than my dad.

4) What did you do to prepare if anything and how did you handle fueling during the event? 

Rob:  We pretty much went with what we had in the house, which was convenient because I had plenty of stuff left over from previous events.  We turned our garage into an aid station and the rest of the family (My wife Kristin, and our three daughters) crewed us. I took a small water bottle and a snack to eat while running. Between loops I ate whatever Kristin put in my hands, commonly some leftovers from the fridge – I really liked the fried rice and brisket.

Ben: I also took a small water bottle in my pocket and some sort of food.

5) Did you sleep at all during the event? 

Rob:  I only completed 7 loops, so sleeping wasn’t a factor during my run.  After I dropped, my role changed to crewing.  The only sleep I got was during a few random 5-10 minute cat naps.

Ben: When I came in I tried to eat some food and rest.

6) In general tell us about your experience.

Rob:  Ben and I ran the first 5 loops together. We started the 6th loop together, but I started falling away near the end and finished a few minutes after Ben. When we started the 7th loop, I immediately fell behind Ben and only finished with about 3 minutes to spare. I walked out to begin the 8th loop, not intending to finish.  I just wasn’t moving fast enough to make the cutoff time.

Ben: after doing 24 loops I decided that a lot of people would just do 24 loops so I decided I had to at least do one more. Coming in on my 25th loop I just decided that I was done. I might have been able to do a few more, but I thought 104 miles was enough for me.

7) Would you consider doing something like this again? 

Rob:  Never say never. Ben is already signed up for another one later this year.

8) How did you do your laps? 

Rob:  All laps were outside on a combination of asphalt, dirt service road, and the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail.

9) What do you think of the way the whole thing ended with the disqualification? 

Rob:  Kristin and I were watching the live video feed when Radek Brunner was disqualified for not starting on time. It was heart-wrenching. I have the utmost respect for the race directors and their staff who made this free international event happen. They created a fantastic event!! It was amazing that two guys on opposite sides of the globe competed against each other for 63+ hours!!

Chris Koehler

Use the arrows to read about all the runners.

1) Have you done anything like this before?
Not in this format.  I have completed three 50ks in the past.  I have been wanting to complete a 50 miler for the past couple of years now, but have gotten cold feet.  The jump from 50k to 50 miles is quite a bit of a jump. A bit intimidating. I had signed up for the Bull Run 50 Miler. I was determined that this race was going to be my attempt at 50 miles, but it got canceled. Like so many others whose races got canceled, I was looking for a way to not let the training go to waste. When I learned about the Backyard Ultra, it sounded perfect.  It was on the same day as Bull Run. I could run as far as my legs would take me. I could bail at any time and not endure a walk of shame. Best of all, it was free.  I had no excuse not to do it.
2) How did you find out about the Quarantine Backyard Ultra? 
I found out about the race from a post on the Charlottesville Area Trail Runners Facebook page. CAT is such a great group for trail runners with weekly long runs on trails. They have experienced trail runners who are eager to offer advice to runners of all abilities.
3) What was your strategy? (Go fast to have more time between laps or like Mike Wardian who ran consistently to have a 15 minutes break?)
Funny you mentioned Wardian.  My strategy was more like his.  My strategy was to go out slow, at around 9:00-9:30 pace. This would give me about 20 minutes or so to recover, refuel, and hydrate.  After about 4 laps or so, I received a comment from Bert Jacoby (a former Stafford resident and sub-2:30 marathoner) on Strava that I was going too fast. I follow Mike Wardian on Strava and noticed that he was running 10:30 pace.  So, after a marathon, I did slow it down to 10:30 pace.

4) What did you do to prepare if anything and how did you handle fueling during the event?
So, as far as preparation goes, I owe a lot to some advice given to me by John Anderson, co-owner of Crozet Running Store. Ever since my hip surgery a few years back, I have a tendency to be injury prone. My body can’t sustain the traditional program of high mileage weeks with two hard workouts and a long run on the weekend.  John only runs hard once a week. The other runs are run at a slow pace. The long runs, he assured me, didn’t need to go much further than 20 miles  The goal is to show up on race day healthy. Grit and perseverance would get me through 50 miles. This advice was when I was training for Bull Run. So, I ran three days a week; I alternated with 3 days of cycling.  And, I took one day off, usually Mondays.  As far as fueling goes, I made sure that I downed about 300 calories of normal food (not gels or anything like that) and 20 ounces of water on every break. A lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
5) Did you sleep at all during the event?
I did not sleep.  No need to.  My goal from the very beginning was to just run 50 miles and call it quits.  I never had any ambition to run overnight.
6) In general tell me about your experience.
The race was very fun. Unfortunately, I had tweaked my hip a few days before the race, and it wasn’t 100 percent on race day. The hip was definitely the major issue throughout the day. I had 3 goals for the day. My A goal was to run 50 miles, my B goal was to run further in one day than I ever had before (34 miles), and my C goal was to run at least a marathon. I started out at 9:00-9:30 pace through the marathon, at which point I made the decision that if I were to make 50 miles, I would need to slow it down to 10:30 pace.  The interesting thing now was my B goal, 34 miles. After I completed 8 laps, I had reached 33.3 miles, which meant I had to go out for a 9th lap.
My hip was hurting pretty bad at that point, but was holding up. No cramping to speak of. So, I headed out to complete lap 9 and accomplish goal B. When I got back, I was ready to call it at 37.5 miles. My wife pointed out what I already knew. “If you finish one more lap, you can say you ran 40 miles.” 40 miles sounded so much better than 37.5. So, I went out for lap 10. As I was running that lap, the sun was setting. The cooler temperatures were very refreshing.   As I was finishing up the lap, I realized that all I had to do was complete 2 more laps and I would reach 50 miles. I was committed at that point. However,literally as I pulled into the driveway, I got my first cramp. Not a good sign. Up to that point, I had run every step. My strategy now was to to walk every hill and run everything else. When I reached the first hill on lap 11, I just couldn’t do it. I ran up it. I got my first cramp at mile one and had to walk. I then walked up every hill. I still completed that lap at 11:42 pace, with 10 minutes to spare. Lap 12 was definitely a struggle. I walked every hill and ran until I cramped up. When I got to mile 3 and realized that I had 23 minutes to run 1.2 miles, I knew I had it. I enjoyed walking up that last hill. I finished with about less than 10 minutes to spare. I threw in the towel at that point. I pretty much accomplished what I set out to do. I could have possibly pushed myself through a couple of more laps, but why?
7) Would you consider doing something like this again?
Yeah, I think so.  Hopefully, it won’t be virtual. But so many backyard ultras have been popping up since Laz started this all, what, about a decade ago. I even thought it would be cool to run in his Big Dog Backyard Ultra, but entry is based on a lottery system, which is kind of a downer. I even thought it would cool to direct one locally. I just discovered some trails today that would probably work perfectly; just gotta figure out who owns the property. However, I think I want to actually run a traditional 50 miler, now that I know I can complete the distance.
8) How did you do your laps?
I ran outside. I have a 4 mile loop from my house that is perfect. Half road, half trails through Wilderness Battlefield. I don’t think the Garmin is accurate on the trails, so I probably ran further, but I figured the softness of the trails and variety of terrain would more than compensate for any longer distance I may have run. There was one lap that I did completely on the roads to see if it was easier. It wasn’t.
9) What do you think of the way the whole thing ended with the disqualification?
It really sucked. I was watching it as I was getting my lesson plans ready for online learning.  I kinda know Michael Wardian through Matt Boyd. When Matt and I directed Hartwood 10 Miler, we invited him to run, and he did. When I worked at Va Runner between teaching jobs, we invited him to come speak at a Hoka event, which he did. Matt and I ran with him that night. He had just finished running practically all of Israel a few days before. Drove all the way from Alexandria. He’s such a Class A guy.  However, as I watched the event online, I found myself rooting for Radeck Brunner because he was the underdog. There were times on the Zoom feed that I noticed that TV crews were covering Wardian. He’s such a rock star in the nicest sense of the word. But, there was Radeck, plugging away at his treadmill, a relatively unknown, who is actually a very accomplished ultra runner. You can look him up. At 11:00 PM on the 3rd day, they headed out on what was to be the last lap.  I was watching. Wardian took off, but there was Radeck standing on his treadmill. I was wondering “what is he doing?” He had shown absolutely no signs of struggling on the previous laps. He finally started running. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed. I woke up to find that that was it. He had been DQ’ed for not starting on time. I didn’t think he had been standing there that long, but when I looked back at the video, it was a full 2 minutes, a clear violation of the rules, which were clearly stated. I credit the race directors for making a very difficult decision, but ultimately, the right call. Radeck was gracious in defeat. He accepted full responsibility; from what I read, he had his Zoom meeting muted and did not hear the bell. His tablet had a delay. But, those were the rules. It stinks because I think those two would have been literally crawling to the finish line, with one not making it in time.

Let’s Get Moving

It’s a beautiful day to stay in the neighborhood and play some social distancing BINGO!

Having trouble staying motivated while social distancing? Well, join us for some fun and play FARC Bingo! Please screenshot the board, and add pictures to our Facebook group and use the hashtag #FARCBingo. We are looking forward to see your photos!


RRCA Survey

The RRCA has launched a nationwide survey to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected participation in running events as well as locally organized group runs and training programs. Please visit the following link in order to participate: 
The goal of the survey is to gather data from runners to better understand what changes they expect to see within the running community and event industry, post-pandemic. Some preliminary data is already noted in the Looking Forward: Guide for Races.
Runners and race directors, like the population at large, hope to return to “normal” at some point in the coming months. Runner feedback will be helpful as the RRCA works with the consortium of race directors, club leaders, health experts, industry leaders, and more in partnership to update guidelines and recommendations to assist the running community in formulating best practice plans for post-pandemic running in the coming months.
Results will be shared in a few weeks following data review and analysis.

Quaranineteen Challenge

On Sunday April 19th several FARC Members took on the challenge to run 1.9 miles or kilometers every hour for 19 hours. The event raised over $7,000 for No Kid Hungry, which helps provide meals for kids who are going without due to the closure of schools.

JP Caudill was the organizer for this event. He lives in Colorado Springs but is originally from Woodbridge and his parents currently live in Fredericksburg. In 2018 he completed the World Marathon Challenge which entails running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. JP came up with the idea for the challenge while recently running a virtual marathon on his treadmill due to a race cancellation. Inspired by similar events he wanted to do something that was accessible to just about anyone who had the drive to take on the challenge. With all the negativity associated with COVID-19 JP wanted to use the event to create something positive out of the number 19.

Howard Thomas, Greg Gilliam, Jim Thompson, Gwen Braswell-Nash, Brian Pessolano, and Caitlin Pessolano all successfully completed the challenge! Runners started as early at 2am Sunday and ran 19 laps ever hour for 19 consecutive hours (36.1 miles or km). Participants interacted with fellow runners during the event through social media and a video conference to stay connected. Runners from all over the country along with a few international runners participated. Our runners received much needed virtual support from fellow FARC runners throughout the event to help them through the grind.

Check out our next newsletter for more details on member experiences!


The Quaranineteen Challenge had runners complete 1.9 miles or kilometers every hour for 19 hours to support No Kid Hungry.


Keep Those Virtual Challenge Submissions Coming!

Shout out to Megan McDonald and Thomas McDonald for rocking their Virtual 5k runs today! Remember there is no cost to in the Challenge as there are options free virtual races for both the 5k and 10k distance. The free Strider Quarantine 5k ends tomorrow so get to it. Starting on the 25th you can do the “Enough All Ready!” virtual 10k for free. All the information on the challenge can be found by going to the below page:

Virtual Challenge Page

Some random participants may be in line for some cool swag… who knows… got to participate to find out.

Thomas McDonald

Strider Quarantine 5k

Megan McDonald

Strider Quarantine 5k




Virtual Races are part of our New Reality



Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, race directors have been forced to cancel or postpone races. Many race directors and charities are being hurt financially due to this. 

Races like the Moss Free Clinic 5k which have moved to offer a virtual option gives us the opportunity to support a good cause and give our runs some meaning.

If you are in the position to be able to support events like this please do.


With Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55 instituting a “stay-at-home” order and the need to maintain distance from individuals can create some anxiety about participating in a virtual run.

The Executive Order does allow for “engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals
comply with social distancing requirements”.


Here are some tips on how to run, stay safe, and of course not get fined.

-Find a location close to where you live and plan out a route using tools like Map My Run, Strava, etc…

-Run at less popular times of the day. Get out early or go run in the rain so you can maintain distance easier.

-Avoid popular locations like the Canal Path

-Only run with people you cohabitate with and do everything you can to maintain 6 ft of separation with people you come upon







Hey runners I’m Brian and I’ll be your Captain for our little virtual race challenge. Yesterday we announced the VA RRCA’s Virtual Challenge. Today I wanted to provide some additional details. I’ve setup a webpage that I will use to post information on the challenge:

Virtual Challenge

Points will be scored for times at the 5k and 10k distances. VA RRCA has stated they may add additional distances and races by April 15th. There are free options to signup for. If you are able please support the Moss Free Clinic Virtual. You can do multiple virtual races for the same distance. I will only submit the best times.

There are FARC groups on both Garmin Connect and Strava. Based on your preferred platform make sure you are a member of one of the groups as this will allow members (and your Captain) to see your runs:



In order to participate do the following between now and May 31st:

  1. Sign-up for one of the eligible virtual races.
  2. Go run and make sure to record it
  3. Edit your run with the title “Virtual Challenge <distance>”. Then in the notes/description put the name of the virtual race the run applies to.
  4. Email me the link to your activity just to be sure I see it: brian.pessolano@runfarc.com

The more participation we have in the various age groups the better our club will do. If you have a family membership the whole gang is eligible!

If you do not track your runs electronically reach out to me and lets see what we can do.

This is still a work in progress so be patient. I’ll keep everyone updated. Stay safe, obey the Governor’s guidance, and keep your distance!

I’d love to hear your thoughts either by email or comment on the Facebook thread. I’m planning to put out an article on how best to participate and follow the guidance we are under.