Mari Järsk Breaks Icelandic Record at Reykjavik Backyard Ultra Skip to content

Mari Järsk Breaks Icelandic Record at Reykjavik Backyard Ultra

By Ragnar Tómas

Mari Järsk crosses the finish line at the Backyard Ultra
Photo: Screenshot from Vísir.

Runner Mari Järsk set a new Icelandic record by covering a distance of nearly 382 kilometres in the Reykjavik Backyard Ultra last weekend. Järsk, who had been awake for 57 hours upon crossing the finish line, maintained that she could have gone even further.

Smokeless Järsk smokes competition

The Backyard Ultra took place last weekend in Öskjuhllíð, Reykjavík. The ultramarathon race involves running the same 6.7-kilometre loop every hour until only one runner remains.

This year, the last runner standing was 36-year-old Mari Järsk, who celebrated a victory on Monday evening. Mari set a new Icelandic record by running nearly 382 kilometres after having been awake for 57 hours since the race began at 9 AM on Saturday.

The accomplishment is, perhaps, even more notable given that Mari stopped smoking earlier this year (she was photographed with a cigarette in hand while resting between laps at the Backyard Ultra in 2022, which she also won).

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Mari was unable to stand up on Monday evening to receive her trophy: “I have some swelling in my ankles, all around, and a bit in my knees. I have been cooling and applying ointments so I feel quite different already. I can walk and bend and do what I need to do,” Mari told Vísir on Monday.

The swelling had reportedly subsided significantly with proper treatment by Tuesday.

Could have gone even further

Speaking to Vísir during the award ceremony, Mari added that she would have gone even further if she had been allowed to do so (the race is automatically over once a single runner remains): “I would have liked to reach 400 kilometres. I would have taken those additional three hours,” she observed.

Mari was not the only runner to set a new record over the weekend; Elísa Kristjánsdóttir finished in second place, completing 56 laps, and Andri Guðmundsson placed third, having completed 52 laps. Mari, Elísa, and Andri crossed the finish line together after the 51st lap to break the former Icelandic record set by Þorleifur Þorleifsson in 2023.

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