POSTS ON THIS WEEKEND ANCHOR DAY WILL HIGHLIGHT FUN & UNIQUE COMPETITIONS that may help readers identify goal challenges for this summer or the next, organized or custom designed.
If an event is scheduled within the next couple of months there may not be sufficient time or funds available to attend. However, that leaves the door open for advance planning of the upcoming year’s activities or the do-it-yourself creation of a personal event.
The unusual BARKLEY MARATHONS is featured because 1) it is a challenge race against an endurance course; 2) runners must be selected to participate; and 3) the “Fun Run” portion of the competition is run concurrent with and is almost as difficult as the main event!
The toughest Barkley competitor is not a fellow competitor but the course itself. An article by Brian Dalek for Runnersworld.com informs readers that technically the person to complete 5 course loops first within a window of 60 hours wins the event, but “many years, the Barkleys Marathons course just outright wins”.
According to a Wikipedia entry, this ultra-endurance event, run in the Frozen Head State Park near Warburg, Tennessee originated as the brain child of Gary Cantrell. It was first competed in 1986. Nicknamed “Lazarus Lake”, Cantrell was inspired by the story of James Earl Ray’s 1977 escape from Bushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Learning that Ray managed to cover only 8 miles in 55 hours of running from the law in the woods, Cantrell figured he could have managed “at least 100 miles”. A neighbor and running companion of Cantrell’s, Barry Barkley, is reported to be the course’s namesake.
Challengers attempt to complete 5 loops of an unmarked 20-mile course to win the designation of finisher (100 miles). Each loop must be completed in 12 hours or less. Included are 54,200 ft. of accumulated vertical climb. If unsuccessful in the main event, there’s still the chance to finish 60 miles (3 loops) in 40 hours in the “fun run”. The 5 and 3 course loop distances, designated to be 100 and 60 miles respectively, may in reality cover 130 and 78 miles, if the annually changing course loop is significantly longer than that officially advertised, like the 26 miles it has been mapped.
There are many quirky details about the race, including a ‘condolence’ letter sent to applicants who are selected to participate (only 40), a $1.60 entrance fee plus a crazy item that differs according to prior race participation (newbies bring an auto license plate from their state, returning non-finishers pay in personal items like socks, or a white tee-shirt; previous finishers donate a pack of Camel brand cigarettes). The person thought least likely to finish a single loop is honored with race bib number 1!
The majority of years there is NO FINISHER! This is what has occurred in 2011 through 2018.
The Barleys Marathons is a great, but extreme, example of what can be accomplished with Earned Runs bibs!
Cantrell designed a custom race and invited others who expressed interest in competing. The date, distance, and starting time seem to change each year, as does the field of competitors. He made this race appeal to a select group. And decided that there needn’t be a winner! Images of famous participants’ tweets, like Michael Wardian, Amelia Boone, and Ally Beaven, are included in the Dalek piece, and show that just being there is something to brag about.
Earned Runs isn’t suggesting you sponsor a dangerous challenge, but it is saying that expensive organized competitions aren’t the only choice when it comes to having fitness fun with friends!
It can be a mile; the distance doesn’t need to be specified, or fit an official category.
Be creative; include quirky, but safe, elements and change the details as desired or needed each year. Make your event so memorable that it achieves ‘legendary’ status in your inner circle. You can name it for your best friend, spouse, child, dog, neighborhood, or yourself!
Request Earned Runs bibs if you don’t have them. Sure, you don’t NEED bibs but it does signal an intent to compete and will identify participants acceptance of and commitment to the challenge.
The Barkley Marathons’ competition bibs read, “No One Is Coming To Help”. Enough said.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Image: The view west from the Frozen Head observation platform at Frozen Head State Park in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. The western flank of Bird Mountain is on the right. Rough Ridge is on the left. Part of Lone Mountain can be seen in the distance on the left. The Flat Fork Valley is below.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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