WRITTEN BY: KATE DZIENIS
IMAGE: ASTRID VOLZKE
HOW DOES PHIL GORE DO IT? WINNING ALMOST EVERY BACKYARD ULTRA IN AUSTRALIA AND SETTING RECORDS?
He went from 5km a day to smashing yard records in Australian backyard ultras, and now he’s known as the Backyard King. Since his first 12km race in 2014, West Australian Phil Gore has gone from humble beginnings to having his presence known when walking up to the start line of a race – there’s whispers from beginner runners, and a shake of the hand from those he knows. But there’s more to him than meets the eye – he’s meticulous, likes predictability, and works solidly to break his own PBs at the now notorious Last One Standing format. He’s found his calling with backyard ultras, and as Kate Dzienis discovers, there’s been a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work that’s gone into his impressive reputation.
There are few names these days that are raised constantly in conversation about races, especially names of runners you may not know on a personal level but have heard a lot about – whether they’ve broken records, claimed new course PBs, or put in a massive performance that simply warrants celebrity-style status.
West Aussie Phil Gore, 36, has become synonymous with the Aussie backyard ultra format, but it’s taken him years to get to the standard he’s set himself. In 2020, he ran his first Last One Standing event, Birdy’s Backyard at Lake Towerinning (WA), where he found himself coming face-to-face with 2019 winner Michael Hooker. Finishing up after 39 laps (261.69km), Phil took home the title of Assist to Michael who once again claimed the win at 40 laps.
In March 2021, Herdy’s Frontyard Ultra in Herdsman Lake (WA) lay claim to Phil’s second-ever backyard event, and this was the race where he set the benchmark for not only his performance, but for the future of LOS formats across the Tasman. Finding himself up against well-known runner Kevin ‘Big Kev’ Matthews, it was a battle like no other with just the two of them racing, alone, from lap 34 onwards. Social media was going off the charts, live videos were streaming everywhere, the crowds were building, and even the local television station popped in with cameras to capture what was being called ‘history in the making’.
There didn’t seem to be an end in sight for this battle of physicality, stamina, mental toughness and tenacity…(cont’d).
CONTINUE READING THIS STORY – AND MORE – IN TRAIL RUN MAG #44 (AUG/SEPTEMBER 2022).