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Photo credit: Keith Dunn

The Barkley Marathons – And so it begins


By Dan Stinton

The Barkley Marathons.  Where do you even start? Quite literally by an iconic yellow gate in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, one hour after the blowing of the conch and officially once race director Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell lights a cigarette.

It’s a challenge to know when it starts, find out who’s entered and even the distance of the race, which varies but is somewhere around 20 miles per lap, probably more.  One thing is for certain – there will be a very high DNF rate.

Five laps are needed to finish the race within 60 hours (which has only been done 18 times by 15 runners) or three laps to complete the “fun run”.  The delightful eccentricities of the entry process, the course and the race director have been covered on RunUltra here.

It’s also worth watching the documentary “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young” to get a feel for the scale and complexities of this challenge.

What’s the latest news for this year? And when is it? James Elson, founder of Centurion Running, announced on social media on Tuesday that they’re leaving soon.  Which means the race starts soon, some rumours suggesting this Friday.

James’ training has included a peak 25-day block of 100,000 ft (30,480 m) of climbing.  This is no mean feat when you don’t live near any mountains, so it seems he’s been doing a ridiculous number of laps and hill reps in Wendover Woods.

We’ll be following the action on our forum and keeping our eyes glued to Twitter to find out how James and all of the other competitors are doing.  Will we have any finishers this year? A first female finisher?

Does anyone have any gossip they want to share?

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