Why does The Barkley fascinate us so? Every Spring, in intermittent breathless moments we wonder: Can it be done? #BM100
— Kirstin C (@ultrarunnergirl) March 30, 2014
There's something enthralling about this race that has a lot to do with the near impossibility of anyone completing it. Since its inception in 1986, just 14 runners have managed to finish.
If you aren't familiar with The Barkley, there's simultaneously a wealth of information on the history of the race and a dearth of it: Good luck figuring out how to enter or even when it takes place.
The race director and course designer, "Laz" has a clever and devious mind and takes great joy in making the course as difficult as possible. He and
race co-founder Karl Henn got the idea for the race after seeing a news report about James Earl Ray's escape from Brushy Mountain State Prison in 1977. In the 55 hours he was on the lam, he made it just 8 miles. Laz thought, “In that time, I could have made 100 miles.”
He's also one of the best storytellers alive. Do yourself a favor and read his books and writings, wherever you can find them.
Some quotes from Laz, which I found on Sophie's excellent post about The Barkley:
"True success is not the absence of failure,
It is the refusal to surrender."
"There is no success
if failure is not in the mix."
"We are never so alive as when we put it all on the line. And at Barkley the only guarantee is that you will be pushed beyond your limits. Everything is on the line."
Check out the links below to learn about the toughest 100 mile race on the planet.
Be forewarned, you could become a bit obsessed.
Wanna geek out on The Barkley? Start here: Matt Mahoney's Barkley website
Some truly motivating stories: Race Reports from Barkley finishers
Of all the Barkley reports, John Fegyveresi's might be the most powerful.
He's the only true "mid-packer" to ever finish.
Finally, here's an excellent news piece on The Barkley and Jared Campbell who was the only finisher this year.
I don't know about you, but stalking the Barkley makes me excited about life, its possibilities, about attempting great things.