Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons is a ultra endurance trail race held near Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee that often is not completed by any competitors it draws in. It is five loops of twenty miles (although participants say the actual length of each loop is closer to a full marathon) and 60,000 feet of vertical variance (or two Mount Everests). To be a finisher you must complete all five loops in 60 hours. Three loops within 40 hours is considered a "fun run" which is a major achievement in itself.

The trail is unmarked. No GPS. You get a simple map and compass. The trail also has nasty briars. You are forced to do much of it in the dark. Most of it you are on your own.

Totally quirky awesomeness. It is hard to get in. If you are accepted, you get a letter of condolence. This year it was held at the end of March. Only six finished the fun run this year and no one finished all five loops.

After James Earle Ray escaped from nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in 1977, he was captured after fifty hours. Ray only made it eight miles. Runner Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell mockingly declared that he could do one hundred miles in that time. Cantrell's declaration became the inspiration of this race. The course varies each year, but the course is based around the prison.

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