Last-person-standing format events have taken the ultrarunning world by storm in recent years, thanks in large part to the success of the original event of that format, Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra in Tennessee. In 2019, Massachusetts made its first foray into last-person-standing racing when Race Director Amy Rusiecki created the Race for DFL.
The original Race for DFL (Dead Freaking Last) took place Oct. 12-13, 2019, on the farmland and wooded property of one of Rusiecki’s friends in Pelham, Mass. More than two-dozen runners took part in the race, which started a new 4.16-mile loop on the hour, every hour, until one runner (the DFL runner) remained. Rhode Island resident Stephen Anthony outlasted Connecticut resident Howie Breinan for the win that day. A rematch didn’t take place in 2020 when the event was unable to happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to a strong public response to vaccinations in New England, the worst effects of the pandemic have been reduced in 2021 and many races have been able to return. That led Rusiecki to seek to revive the Race for DFL. The property in Pelham was no longer available, but she ultimately found a new home for the event at the Chesterfield Gorge Reservation in West Chesterfield, Mass. It’s the same place where she played host to the Chesterfield Gorge Ultra in June.
In an email to prior participants of the races she directs, on Tuesday, Oct. 5, Rusiecki announced that registration is now open for the 2021 Race for DFL. The first lap will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, with a new lap beginning on the hour, every hour, until only the winner remains. In order to win, the last runner is required to complete one lap more than any other runner, and they must complete that lap in less than an hour.
The 4.16-mile course will be an out-and-back on a rolling gravel and dirt road, with mildly technical footing in some spots. Runners who wish to compete to be the DFL runner standing must start at 8 a.m. Saturday. For this year only, Rusiecki will also allow any runners who hope to complete 12 laps (50 miles) and earn a Vermont 100 qualifying effort but not compete for the DFL win to join the event at the start of any loop between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday.
Beyond the ultra, Rusiecki is also offering runners the opportunity to run one timed loop of the 4.16-mile loop course. Those interested in the single-loop option can start at the top of any hour between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday. Results of that option will be based on time, and runners are allowed to race multiple laps to try to record a faster time.
Registration is being conducted at RunReg at this link. Additionally, day-of-race registration is allowed. The entry fee is $40 for the ultra and $20 for the single-lap race.