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Articles tagged #Barkley Marathons
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Ethan Newberry’s first 100-mile training week

Here's what happened when the trail runner and filmmaker set out to document his first-ever 100-mile training week

For better or for worse, many runners consider the 100-mile training week to be an important benchmark. Even though it’s entirely arbitrary (and for many people would represent too much mileage for optimal training and health), the idea that they “should” be training at this volume holds sway over more people than would probably admit it. Filmmaker, musician, trail runner and race director Ethan Newberry of Seattle, aka The Ginger Runner (whose film Where Dreams Go To Die documents Gary Robbins’s first and second Barkley Marathons attempts), is one of those people.

For years, Newberry had wanted to do a 100-mile training week, just to prove that he could. So, with some guidance from his coach, David Roche, in the final days of 2019, he finally did.

Newberry acknowledges the arbitrariness of the benchmark 100 miles by saying that for some people, 100 miles a week is “not a lot,” and for others it represents a crazy amount of training volume. For him, it was a daunting challenge, for two main reasons: 1) he’d never done it before (which made it both a physical and a psychological challenge), and 2) as a middle-of-the-pack runner, 100 miles in seven days represents a serious time commitment.

His goals being simply to reach 100 miles without getting injured and while having fun, here’s how he and Roche planned out Newberry’s mileage for the week:

Monday: 15 miles

Tuesday: 10 miles

Wednesday: 10 mile/5 mile double

Thursday: 10 mile/5 mile double

Friday: 8 miles

Saturday: 20 miles

Sunday: 17 miles

All the runs were done at an easy pace.

(Note: anyone trying this for the first time, whether just for its own sake or as part of a training plan with a goal race in mind, should definitely build up to it gradually, and be aware that your sleep, recovery and nutrition needs will be significantly greater than usual. This is definitely not a goal for a beginner runner. )

The first day goes well, but to save time, Newberry does his 15 miles on the roads, and some joint soreness leads him to switch to the trails for day 2.Day 3 and 4 are doubles. On Day 3, Newberry decides to do the short run first. This is the first day he’s really aware of the recovery, sleep and nutritional challenges involved in a 100-mile week, but he wisely enlists two other runners to join him on the day’s second run, a 10-miler. By the end of it, he reports that his legs felt strong.

Halfway through the week’s mileage, Newberry say, “I can smell the finish line. And it smells like pizza.”

On day 7, Newberry’s elation at being almost finished his first triple-digit training week is palpable. “I feel like I could run another 50,” he says, adding, “It took me years to build up the courage to try.” Sometimes giving it your best shot is enough.

Not only is Newberry’s project a useful document of what a 100-mile week looks like, but his decision to run a different route for every run makes for a scenic and entertaining micro-travelogue of Seattle’s favourite routes.

(10/25/2020) Views: 53 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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John Kelly smashes 31-year-old Pennine Way FKT

Kelly set a new best mark on the legendary Pennine Way FKT by 40 minutes

American ultrarunner and 2017 Barkley Marathons finisher John Kelly ran the FKT on the U.K.’s legendary Pennine Way early Thursday morning. The Pennie Way FKT was held for 31 years by Mike Hartley, a storied British ultrarunner, until today. Kelly surpassed Hartley’s time by 40 minutes to finish in two days, 16 hours and 40 minutes (the previous record stood at two days, 17 hours and 20 minutes).

The Pennine Way, which is travelled during the Spine Race (which Kelly won earlier this year, before the pandemic), is a 268 mile (431k) trail up the middle of England from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Over the course of that 431K, the path gains just shy of 12,000m of elevation on extremely rough terrain. For a little context, the elevation is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest and the distance is like running from Toronto to Sudbury. It’s a lot of running and climbing.

This FKT attempt wasn’t Kelly’s first time traversing this course. He has run it over the course of the Spine Race, but this week’s effort was different. He was assisted and running through the summer (as opposed to January, when the Spine Race takes place) and working with nearly 20 hours of daylight as opposed to the eight he would’ve seen last time. On top of the daylight, this was a supported effort, so he didn’t need to carry any extra supplies.

Kelly was supported primarily by his partner Nicki Lygo who documented most of the effort on Twitter. Kelly dealt with some poor weather and significant stomach issues, but he still managed to pull it off. Initially, he was flying through aid stations in under 60 seconds, but slowed to 30 to 40 minutes toward the end when he would sleep for a bit and try to soothe his stomach.

While Kelly’s effort on Pennine Way is astonishing, he’s not done yet. He took on what he’s calling the Hartley Slam. Pennine Way was Part One and the Grand Round is Part Two. The Grand Round route involves nearly 300K of running, thousands of feet of elevation gain and over 600K of biking between its sections. Kelly attempted the Grand Round in 2019, but was unable to complete it, so he’s heading back for a second try two weeks after today’s finish.

Kelly is doing this challenge for two reasons: to have something to do since his 2020 race calendar was cleared and to raise money for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, a U.K. charity that helps disadvantaged youth. If fans are looking to donate, they can do so here. Tune back in two weeks time to follow Kelly on his journey to conquer the Grand Round.

(07/27/2020) Views: 136 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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American ultrarunner John Kelly set a new best time on the legendary Pennine Way FKT by 40 minutes

Ultrarunner and 2017 Barkley Marathons finisher John Kelly ran the FKT on the U.K.’s legendary Pennine Way early Thursday morning. The Pennie Way FKT was held for 31 years by Mike Hartley, a storied British ultrarunner, until today.

Kelly surpassed Hartley’s time by 40 minutes to finish in two days, 16 hours and 40 minutes (the previous record stood at two days, 17 hours and 20 minutes). 

The Pennine Way, which is travelled during the Spine Race, is a 268 mile (431k) trail up the middle of England from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Over the course of that 431K, the path gains just shy of 12,000m of elevation on extremely rough terrain. For a little context, the elevation is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest and the distance is like running from Toronto to Sudbury. It’s a lot of running and climbing.

This FKT attempt wasn’t Kelly’s first time traversing this course. He has run it over the course of the Spine Race, but this week’s effort was different. He was assisted and running through the summer (as opposed to January, when the Spine Race takes place) and working with nearly 20 hours of daylight as opposed to the eight he would’ve seen last time. On top of the daylight, this was a supported effort, so he didn’t need to carry any extra supplies. 

Kelly was supported primarily by his partner Nicki Lygo who documented most of the effort on Twitter. Kelly dealt with some poor weather and significant stomach issues, but he still managed to pull it off. Initially, he was flying through aid stations in under 60 seconds, but slowed to 30 to 40 minutes toward the end when he would sleep for a bit and try to soothe his stomach. 

While Kelly’s effort on Pennine Way is astonishing, he’s not done yet. He took on what he’s calling the Hartley Slam. Pennine Way was Part One and the Grand Round is Part Two. The Grand Round route involves nearly 300K of running, thousands of feet of elevation gain and over 600K of biking between its sections. Kelly attempted the Grand Round in 2019, but was unable to complete it, so he’s heading back for a second try two weeks after today’s finish.

Kelly is doing this challenge for two reasons: to have something to do since his 2020 race calendar was cleared and to raise money for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, a U.K. charity that helps disadvantaged youth. If fans are looking to donate, they can do so here. Tune back in two weeks time to follow Kelly on his journey to conquer the Grand Round. 

 

(07/16/2020) Views: 166 ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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Francesca Muccini, the 2017 Vol State champion, is back on top after winning the run across Tennessee Vol State 500K crown in 82 hours

The Last Annual Vol State 500K ultramarathon across Tennessee began on July 9, and only three days later, the race saw its first two finishers cross the finish line in Castle Rock, Ga. First place went to Francesca Muccini, the 2017 Vol State champion, who finished the race in three days, 10 hours, 49 minutes and 40 seconds.

This is a women’s course record and the third-fastest time ever run at the event, regardless of gender. Second place went to Bob Hearn, who wasn’t far behind Muccini, finishing in three days and 12 hours.

The Vol State is a Laz Lake event. Lake organizes many ultra races, including the Barkley Marathons, and they’re all mind-blowing. They’re long, they’re hard and they would make non-runners (and runners who prefer to stick to races that don’t go past 42.2K) shake their heads and ask, “How long did you say it was?” The Vol State fits that bill perfectly, and it’s exactly what ultrarunners around the world have come to expect from Lake. Its 500K course starts in Missouri, takes runners into Kentucky and then crosses over into Tennessee, where participants stay for the bulk of the race. In the final stretch, runners head into Alabama and then Georgia, where the race ends. 

Runners have 10 days to finish the race, meaning they have to cover at least 50K per day if they want to make it to Georgia in time. There are no aid stations or volunteers along the course, but runners have the option of racing with a support crew (although some racers choose to run unsupported). 

The fact that runners are given 10 days to finish this event and Muccini and Hearn did it in just over three is ridiculous. That means they averaged more than 140K per day as they worked across Tennessee. When Muccini won the race in 2017, she finished with a time of four days and four hours. She also raced the event in 2016, placing eighth overall and crossing the line as the top woman in a little more than five days. 

This was Hearn’s first crack at the Vol State, but he’s no stranger to big results either. Earlier this year, he won a 100-mile race in South Carolina, and in 2019, he finished in second place at the Six Days in the Dome event in Wisconsin, where he ran 530 miles in less than a week. 

The runners still working away at the Vol State course have more than five days to make it across Tennessee, into Alabama and then into Georgia to finish the race.

(07/13/2020) Views: 290 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Laz Lake’s The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1,000K, has over 18,000 signups

Just two weeks ago, Laz Lake, race director of the Barkley Marathons, launched the registration page for his latest event, The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1,000K, and as of today, over 18,000 people have signed up.

The race officially began on May 1, and runners have until August 31 to complete the 1,021.68K route. Although some runners have already been at it for almost a full week, registration is still open, and the total number of participants keeps climbing. Lake’s race is certainly one of the longest on the 2020 virtual event calendar, but it might claim the title of biggest field, too.

Runners won’t actually run across Tennessee, since it’s a virtual race, but their progress will be monitored and updated on a live map of the state and race route. This way, there’s a visual of how far an athlete has come and how much longer they have to go.

They will also be able to see the progress of fellow runners, so racers will know exactly where they stack up against the 18,000 other competitors. For people who think 1,000K isn’t far enough, there’s an out-and-back 2,000K option.

The race entry fee is $60, and with over 18,000 racers, that’s a lot of money (over $1 million). On the event signup page, there is a donation button where people can give money to help Feeding America, an organization that provides food and support to over 40 million Americans each year.

The race webpage doesn’t specifically say what percentage of race entry fees will be given to Feeding America, but an overall goal to raise $100,000 is listed on the site.

In addition to The Great Virtual Race, there’s the Doggie Run Across Tennessee for Animal Shelters.

This event is for people who want to run with their dogs (as the name suggests), and it costs $30 to enter. All of the proceeds from this event will be donated to animal shelters in the U.S.

Registration for the race is open until August 1, but as the website states, “the longer you wait, the less time you have.” August is still a long way off, but if you leave your 1,000K race until the last 30 days, you might have a hard time finishing before the cut-off, so sign up sooner rather than later if you plan on racing.

(05/07/2020) Views: 266 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Ultrarunner Gary Robbins ran 100 miles on treadmill in virtual race to raise money for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association

This past weekend, Gary Robbins went for a run on his treadmill, and he didn’t stop for almost 26 hours. He ran in the Aravaipa Strong virtual race, competing in the 100-mile event, and his run doubled as a fundraiser for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association. Running for 26 hours is hard enough, but Robbins made it even tougher on himself and climbed around 17,500 feet in addition to running 100 miles.

His challenge has raised over $15,000 for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, and donations can still be made to support the cause.

The British Columbia Search and Rescue Association is a non-profit society that represents 79 search and rescue groups across B.C. Across the province, 2,500 volunteers are available in over 80 communities 24/7, collectively putting in 100,000 hours of work each year.

These groups have an incredible rate of success, with 95 per cent of subjects found or rescued within the first 24 hours of a call. The Search and Rescue Association gets some support from the provincial government, but it relies on donations to stay active.

Robbins hoped to raise $5,000 for the non-profit, but he has tripled that goal and the total now sits above $15,000.

Robbins’ official time for the 100-mile run was 25:53:42. Although this is almost 10 hours slower than the winner of the 100-mile Aravaipa Strong event (American Sarah Emoto won the virtual race in 16:15:46), Robbins likely had a much harder run than any of the other competitors as it included 17,500 feet of elevation.

Robbins is no stranger to ultramarathons, and before the coronavirus outbreak he was gearing up for another shot at the Barkley Marathons this year. Even with a history of ultrarunning, Robbins struggled with the treadmill run.

“Happy to have gotten through this so that I never have to think about anything like this again,” he tweeted. “It was challenging in all the ways I thought it’d be and lots more ways I hadn’t envisioned. My body is completely wrecked.” His wife, Linda Barton-Robbins, also tweeted post-race, saying that her husband couldn’t even make it up their stairs at home.

The Aravaipa Strong virtual race took place from April 17 to 26, and runners could choose from seven distances, starting with 5K up to 100 miles. The races featured over 2,000 runners worldwide from 29 different countries. Ten per cent of the proceeds from the race were donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

(04/28/2020) Views: 192 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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The Quarantine Backyard Ultra is a chance to race virtually for free this spring

If you’re itching to race this spring but don’t know where to turn, maybe just look to your backyard. The Quarantine Backyard Ultra is a free race that anyone can enter, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home or on a route nearby. Canadian ultrarunner and treadmill-running world record-holder Dave Proctor will be running the Backyard Ultra, which will be broadcast on YouTube starting on April 4, and the Barkley Marathons‘ Laz Lake will be the honorary race director.

The race starts at 6 a.m. PT on April 4. All runners will connect via Zoom video call, and this is where their progress will be monitored. Athletes can choose between running on a treadmill or on a route that starts and finishes at their home. Runners who choose the former option must point their camera at their treadmill after they complete each lap to prove they completed the distance (each lap is 6.706K).

Racers who opt to run outside must use a GPS watch or smartphone to record their distance run, and at the end of each lap, they must show proof of the completed lap to the Zoom audience. Once runners complete each lap, they can relax until the next lap begins. The last person running is the winner.

The race will be live streamed on YouTube, which should satisfy many running fans’ needs for live racing. Better yet, the event will have live updates on its Facebook page written by Lake, and, if all goes well with Zoom, Lake will also provide colour commentary over the live feed as well. Last year, Lake travelled to Calgary and acted as the honorary race director for Proctor’s Outrun Backyard Ultra, which was modelled after Lake’s Big’s Backyard Ultra in Tennessee.

The race is being organized by Personal Peak, an endurance coaching company witch which Proctor works. In May, Proctor was set to tackle the TransCanadian speed record attempt, and Personal Peak coaches were going to be his crew for the run. When he had to postpone his attempt, Proctor decided he had to do something to replace it.

“His fitness level wasn’t going to go to waste,” says Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard, Proctor’s publicist. “Dave’s a competitor, so we said, ‘Let’s see who else we can get on board.'” So, Personal Peak set the race up and they “extended that invitation to all of the best ultrarunners,” Gillis-Paulgaard says. As it stands now, 11 other elite runners have confirmed for the April 4 race, but Gillis-Paulgaard, Proctor and the Personal Peak team hope to attract runners of all levels.

“Hopefully, for those people who have trained over the winter months, this will give them something to race, whether they run one lap or 50,” Gillis-Paulgaard says. The winner of the event will win what is, according to the race website, “soon to be world’s most coveted prize: The Golden Toilet Paper Roll.” In a time where race opportunities are sparse and toilet paper is hard to come by, you can get both in the newest virtual race.

(03/24/2020) Views: 410 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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No finisher at the Barkley Marathons again this year (also, no race)

Even the legendary Barkley Marathons couldn't make it through a pandemic. The Tennessee ultramarathon was called yesterday and remains without a finisher to the race since John Kelly in 2017.

The ultra trail race was set to take place later this month or early April in Frozen Head State Park. The 100-mile course is limited to 60 hours. It's considered one of the toughest races on the planet in part because it is both physically and mentally exhausting.

There is always a great deal of interest in the race, and this year was no different as Canadian ultra trail runner Gary Robbins was set to make his return to the race after a long recovery from injury.

Robbins hinted that the race would likely be cancelled with a social media post on March 14, but also said that he was ready and was nearing peak fitness in his training.

"I feel like this might be the fittest I’ve ever been heading into the race. Certainly, it’s the best my legs have ever felt at this point in time. Having missed almost two years due to injury, but continuing to train over 500 hours on the bike in 2019, seems to have done nothing but strengthened my body overall," he wrote.

Race founder Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell was working hard to try to make the race happen, even after the U.S. travel ban resulted in a number of European runners having to cancel.

Without a doubt, "Laz" will be back soon enough to enact his unique brand of punishment on unsuspecting runners who might think a run in the Tennessee woods sounds like fun.

(03/21/2020) Views: 220 ⚡AMP
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What to do when injury happens

David Roche, author and coach to many top trail runners, dispenses advice on what to do when injury happens.

Even the strongest runners occasionally get injured. If you think you may be injured and this is not something you’ve dealt with before (or even if it is), running coach and The Happy Runner author David Roche of the SWAP Adventure Team (Some Work, All Play) along with Black Canyon 100K winner Matt Daniels has put together a very simple how-to video for Strava on exactly how to approach the situation.

Roche coaches a lot of successful trail runners like OCR badass Amelia Boone, Western States winner Clare Gallagher, Barkley Marathons finisher John Kelly, Canada’s Kat Drew and Canadian Trail Running’s own Tory Scholz, and his approach is holistic–he’s concerned not just that you take care of the injury, but that you remain, well, a happy runner. While injury prevention is important, Roche acknowledges that we can’t always avoid injury entirely. That’s why he formulated these guidelines on what to do when despite your best efforts, something goes wrong with your body. (Roche coaches road runners too, by the way.)

Here are Roche’s Rules for when you think you might be injured.

1. If it hurts to walk, don’t run.- It may seem like basic common sense, but you’d be surprised how may runners routinely ignore it out of a desire to prove how tough they are, or to reassure themselves that they’re not really injured. But if you run on an injury, it will likely get worse.

2. There’s no shame in stopping.- One of Roche’s biggest assets as a coach is that he talks about shame, something that comes up frequently in injured runners who may think they’re wimping out if they don’t finish a workout (or a race) because something hurts. If you ignore rule #1, fine, but don’t ignore rule #2. Stop and take what Roche calls the Walk of Pride (rather than the more traditional Walk of Shame) back to where you started, and “live to fight another day.”

3. Talk to someone.- Confide in someone close to you that you’re injured, someone who cares about you enough to insist that you seek treatment. Many injured runners put off seeking treatment in the hope that whatever it is will get better on its own. (And we all know where that ends.) Whether it’s your family doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor, getting seen will not only help you get on the road to recovery, it’ll help you cope mentally, too.

Bottom line, you want to get rehabbed so you can get back out there ASAP. If you follow Roche’s three rules, there’s no reason why you can’t do just that.

(12/22/2019) Views: 526 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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The man who inspired the Barkley Marathons has died at age 70

Barry Barkley of Shelbyville, Tenn., for whom race director Lazarus Lake (aka Gary Cantrell) named the Barkley Marathons, died on December 5. An obituary in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette says Barkley “loved the outdoors, playing pool, and his animals.”

Trail Running Magazine reach Laz by email. He offered the following on his friend’s passing: “the ultramarathon community lost one of its own this week, with the passing of barry barkley (70). most only know of him indirectly; from the race that bears his name, but he has been a quiet contributor to the sport for the past 42 years. it was always his preference to operate quietly in the background, but he did get enjoyment from the notoriety of his namesake race. since 1979 literally thousands of ultrarunners have met barry at the races. only a handful ever knew who he was. that was how he wanted it. Barry barkley will be sorely missed.”

Barkley’s photo shows he bore a marked resemblance to Laz himself, who started the race in 1986 after hearing about the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray (the man who killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) from Brushy State Penitentiary. After more than two days on the lam, Ray had only covered 13 kilometres before being re-captured. The former ultrarunner Laz, who knew the area well, is said to have responded, “I could do at least 100 miles,” and created the race, naming it for his friend, neighbour and running partner. The race course goes through the grounds of Brushy State, which closed in 2009.

The race is a notoriously difficult 100-miler, with a number of quirks that set it apart from any other race on Earth. It involves five laps of a 20-mile loop that many believe is significantly longer than 20 miles, along an unmarked course that changes slightly every year, with huge elevation gains and losses. GPS are not allowed–Laz issues each racer an inexpensive watch that shows only the time, counting down from the 60-hour cutoff. Cheating is impossible, since runners must present specific pages torn from books hidden along the course, in order to start the next lap.

Runners can replenish their water stores at two locations, but otherwise there are no aid stations–they can meet their crews only between loops, back at camp in Wartburg, Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park.

(12/09/2019) Views: 405 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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New documentary on Nicky Spinks at the Barkley Marathons

The doc follows the British ultrarunner on her quest to become the first woman to finish the infamously difficult race.

Back in March, the British runner Nicky Spinks, 52, was considered the most likely of the seven women registered for the Barkley Marathons to become the first-ever female in the race’s 33-year history to finish. Along with Canadian Stephanie Case (a Barkley veteran who had attempted the race in 2018), Spinks had to bail on the second of five 20-mile loops. Her sponsor, the British gear company Inov-8, in partnership with Summit Media, has produced a documentary on her attempt, entitled Last Women Standing: The Barkley Marathons 2019. 

Spinks is the first person ever to complete doubles of all three classic British fell-running rounds, which link numerous peaks in a circuit (the Paddy Buckley Round, the Ramsay Round and the Bob Graham Round), among many impressive accomplishments in her fell-running career. She crewed Damian Hall to a fifth-place finish at UTMB in 2018.

(11/24/2019) Views: 363 ⚡AMP
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A Response from a Proud “Lazy Parasite” Trail Runner

Marc Peruzzi’s recent Ouside magazine column about trail work clearly touched a nerve in the running community. Part of his argument is fair criticism, but he got some important things wrong.

I’ve been a competitive trail runner for over a decade; I’ve participated in some of the most well-known and competitive ultras around the world, including the Barkley Marathons, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, and the Western States Endurance Run.

I’ve also been a human rights lawyer for about the same period of time, and I take a deep interest in how we in the trail and ultrarunning community contribute to broader society. I know I’m not alone in this—as trail runners, many of us pride ourselves on being responsible stewards of our environment and contributing members in the outdoor sports community. We pick up trash left behind on the trails by inconsiderate urbanites. We don’t cut switchbacks, and we know how deep a hole to dig to bury our own poop (minimum: six inches).

We see ourselves as the “good ones”—runners who lightly tiptoe along mountain and forest paths, leaving no trace. Our intimate connection with the outdoors makes us protective of the wilderness that we enjoy, and that is something we hold tightly as part of our culture and identity as runners.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that when Outside published an article on May 22 calling trail runners “lazy parasites” and “deadbeats,” the reaction from the trail and ultrarunning community was swift and fierce. The writer, Marc Peruzzi, claimed that we simply aren’t pulling our weight when it comes to trail work. “When compared to mountain bikers and hikers, trail runners are the least likely to volunteer to build and maintain trails,” Peruzzi wrote. Leaning heavily on anecdotal evidence to back up his views, Peruzzi tried to hit us right where he knew it would hurt—and it did.

Candice Burt, an elite ultrarunner and the race director of the Triple Crown 200 mile series, wrote in a response on her website that she was shocked when she read the article. “I have no issue with asking user groups to do more to give back,” she wrote. “However, this article was not so much a call to action as it was a full on insulting diatribe aimed at my community.” For her part, Burt wrote about how she organizes an annual volunteer work party to maintain trails that would otherwise cease to exist, and how her company donates over $20,000 to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association for building and maintaining trails. “Trail running and stewardship are my life,” she wrote, “[It] has always been an important part of the trail running culture.” Many others in the trail community echoed her reaction.

A number of prominent ultramarathon races in North America in addition to Fat Dog and Burt’s 200 mile race series, require volunteer service from entrants, typically in the form of eight hours of trail maintenance. (Peruzzi briefly acknowledged this in his story.) These races include the Western States Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Endurance Race, Angeles Crest 100 miler, and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run. 

In short, we in the trail running community know that we aren’t the lazy parasites and deadbeats Peruzzi claims we are. So why does he have this impression? And are we taking his criticism so personally because there is a kernel of truth to it? Could we be doing more?

The short answer is yes, we could be doing more. Adam Chase, the President of the American Trail Running Association (ATRA), responded to Peruzzi’s article on Facebook by saying: “I must confess. We are guilty as charged…we need [to do] more. A lot more.” Indeed, as trail running continues to increase in popularity, it will become even more important that we expand our volunteer and conservation efforts.

Clare Gallagher, an elite ultrarunner and environmental activist, has not been shy in calling us out on this and urging us to do more, long before Peruzzi’s story was published. “If we are not engaging with the politics of public land protections, we are freeloading,” she wrote in September 2017.

While I’m more than willing to admit that we need to do more as a community, I refuse to accept the suggestion that we are lazy deadbeats who “are the least likely to volunteer to build and maintain trails,” as Peruzzi claims.

Does that mean that we aren’t deeply involved at a grassroots level or that we don’t care? Hell no. We may be a ragtag bunch, but we are compassionate and committed. From the moment I joined this community, I understood that the expectation was to give back, whether through trail work, guided running for visually impaired athletes, or simply picking up garbage left behind by others. Advertising these good deeds was certainly not required, and it was maybe even discouraged. 

But rather than engage in a pissing contest with our fellow athletes over who is doing more to protect our common lands, I’d prefer to join forces to make us all more effective. 

The definition of a parasite is something that exists by taking from or depending on something else. In that sense, I will happily embrace Peruzzi’s label. I am a trail running parasite: I truly rely on the trails to exist. For that reason, I see it as my duty to ensure that the trails I run on—and all the ones I haven’t yet—are protected. I will do this by working alongside my trail running companions, and learning from my mountain biking colleagues. The only way to make progress on these issues is to band together, not drive each other apart. As for the rest of Peruzzi’s article? Well, it’s going in a six-inch hole, where it belongs. See you out on the trail.

(Editor’s note:  this is a condensed version of Stephanie’s article.  Click on the link to read her entire article.). 

(06/09/2019) Views: 676 ⚡AMP
by Stephanie Case for Outside Online
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No finisher at Barkley Marathons 2019

It might be hard to imagine a race in which the entire field DNFs, but it’s not unusual at the Barkley Marathons, and it happened for the second year in a row as the race came to an end earlier this morning. The results were somewhat better than last year, with six Fun Runs recorded (three 20-mile loops in under 40 hours). Last year Canadian Gary Robbins was the only runner to achieve a Fun Run, and there were no finishers. 

Last night with only two minutes to go before the 9:23 p.m. cutoff, Karel Sabbe and Greig Hamilton set off on loop four. Shortly afterwards, Guillaume Calmettes arrived in camp, well within the cutoff for a Fun Run (which was 1:23 a.m. Monday) but too late to be allowed to attempt a fourth loop. He was tapped out (referring to the playing of Taps by a bugler for each runner who DNFs). 

Tomokazu Ihara, Johan Steene and Jamil Coury all finished Fun Runs last night, but were tapped out upon returning to camp.

Greig Hamilton was the first to say “uncle” on loop four. Sabbe hung in for another few hours before packing it in and returning to camp around 3:30 a.m.

Gary Robbins noted the significance of the final two to drop out being Barkley “virgins.” Sabbe, a dentist from Belgium, got a lot of attention for setting the most recent FKT on the Appalachian Trail in August 2018. Hamilton, who is from Christchurch, New Zealand, was the 2016 world champion in rogaining (long-distance orienteering).

But at the Barkley Marathons, your race pedigree means very little. Two of this year’s strongest contenders, John Kelly and Jared Campbell, shocked everyone following with their early DNFs. 2017 finisher Kelly, with a strong lead after two laps, headed for his tent for a nap, emerging later to announce he no longer wanted to continue, and tapped himself out on the bugle. Campbell, with three Barkley finishes on his resume, kept fans guessing for hours as to his whereabouts after rolling his ankle badly on the first loop.

 

(04/01/2019) Views: 810 ⚡AMP
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2019 Barkley Marathons is 'love and puppies' for Laz

Some of the world's best runners are in Morgan County for this weekend's Barkley Marathons, a brutal 100-mile race that only 15 people have finished in 33 years.

Elite ultra-marathoners from six continents packed the campsite at Frozen Head State Park on Friday in Wartburg, Tenn.  Now they patiently wait for the unpredictable start of the Barkley Marathons, a sinister 100-mile race filled with obstacles that pester routine-loving runners.

"There is nothing out there but love and puppies," laughed Gary Cantrell as he read the text on this year's shirt. "I think we'll have a higher finish-rate because of the positive wholesome attitude this year. Aren't there little hearts up in this corner [of my shirt]?"

Cantrell, also known as Lazarus Lake or Laz, helped concoct the ridiculous race that only 15 people have finished in 33 years. Some runners are repeat-finishers, making a total of 18 times someone has completed the 100-mile race within the 60-hour time limit.

If you have missed WBIR's many reports on the Barkley Marathons in previous years, here is a brief synopsis of the event:  Runners write an essay and apply for entry in the Barkley Marathons.  40 runners are chosen each year from around the world.

Runners have 60 hours to complete five loops of 20+ miles through Frozen Head State Park.  The course is unmarked and changes every year.

Runners get a map (poorly-drawn) of the course before the race begins.  The start time is unknown, other than sometime between midnight and noon on Saturday.

A conch shell is blown to signal one hour until the start.  Laz lights a cigarette to begin the race.

The yellow gate at the campsite and Brushy Mountain prison are always part of the route.  Keeping with Laz's positive attitude, there has technically been a winner every year of the Barkley: a runner or the mountain.

"The mountain has been winning a lot more often than the runners. I think it has won 1,302 and been beaten 18 times," said Cantrell.

(03/30/2019) Views: 781 ⚡AMP
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Nicky Spinks is hoping to be the first woman to finish the Barkley marathons

The Barkley Marathons, which is “rumoured” to take place this weekend, is surrounded by folklore about prison escapes and encounters with wild boar. If you’ve never been to Frozen Head, you might think of it as a mysterious, forbidding place whose only reason for existence is as the site of Laz Lake’sinfamous 100-miler.

But Jamil Coury who is returning to the Barkley for the fifth time this year, you’ll see that it’s just a state park like any other, with trails and campgrounds where families go to relax a little later in the season, just like they do in state, national and provincial parks across North America.

Coury and another Barkley veteran, Guillaume Calmettes of France, spent a few days together last month, running the trails in Frozen Head to get in shape for this year’s race. They make Frozen Head look positively benign.

Last year there were no finishers, thanks largely to terrible weather. Spring weather can be unpredictable anywhere, and last year Frozen Head got walloped with a massive rainstorm, dense fog and cold temperatures on race weekend.

Running five 20-mile loops in 60 hours with no course markings and no organized aid stations is hard enough–add bad weather to the mix, and any hopes of finishing were dashed for most people after a loop or two. Gary Robbins completed a “fun run,” three loops in under 40 hours.

This year could be a different story. The forecast for Frozen Head is for temperatures of between 50 F (10 C) and 68 F (20 C), with thunderstorms possible on Saturday.

We’ve also just learned that Nicky Spinks is among the starters. The British ultrarunner ran a double Ramsay Round last year, has also run a double Bob Graham Round, and crewed for Damian Hall at UTMB last year.

Let’s hope the will be some finishers this year.  

(03/29/2019) Views: 863 ⚡AMP
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These are the eight Gnarliest Races in the World and only a few have crossed the finish line

The popularity of running ultras has skyrocketed over the past few years. But what happens when you take away the road and most of your sanity? You get some of the gnarliest races out there, where mistakes can be fatal and merely crossing the finish line in one piece counts as a victory. Here are some of the toughest: 1. Jungle Ultra: Runners cover 142.6 miles through the humid Peruvian jungle in a five-stage, self-supported race. 2. Alaska Mountain Wilderness Challenge: More than 100 miles of wild Alaskan terrain. There’s no route or GPS, and participants must be skilled in self-rescue (and carry a SAT phone). 3. Self Transcendence 3100 Mile: Runners must cover 3,100 miles in 52 days by completing 5,649 mind-numbing laps around one city block. 4. Plain 100: Washington’s Cascades, 35 runners a year attempt 100 unsupported miles on remote trails and forest service roads. 5. Iditarod Trail Invitational: 1,000-mile course through Alaskan wilderness from Knik Lake to Nome on foot 6. 6633 Ultra: 350-mile race, runners cross the Arctic Circle 7. Barkley Marathons: 100-mile unsupported Barkley in the Tennessee backcountry has only been finished 16 times since its start in 1986. 8. Dragon's Back Race: five days of castle-to-castle “trail” running across the Welsh wilderness, runners will cover about 186 miles and climb roughly 51,000 feet over unmarked and often trackless, craggy terrain. (Click link for five more and details from Outside Online) (04/01/2018) Views: 1,012 ⚡AMP
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No one finished the gruelling Barkley Marathons race this year

At the 2018 Barkley Marathons, it was the course -- not its runners -- that was the victor again. “The weather and the course got the better of everybody this year,” said Geoff Langford of Ridgeline Events, This year’s racers faced rain, lightning and cold temperatures. The full five-loop course must be completed in 60 hours, or 12-hours per each 32-kilometre loop. If runners complete the first three loops in under 40 hours, it is considered a successful completion of the “fun run” version of the race, though that is usually a failed attempt at the main event. To mark a runner’s failure, a bugle is played. (03/27/2018) Views: 1,300 ⚡AMP
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The Barkley Marathons participants are in for a world of Hurt this weekend

Elite runners from around the globe are in for a world of hurt this weekend during the annual 100-mile Barkley Marathons in Morgan County.

The Barkley Marathons has grown from a small and ridiculous race in Morgan County, Tennessee, into an international phenomenon followed around the globe.

The brainchild of former ultra-marathoner Gary Cantrell has especially grown in popularity in the last few years, coinciding with the release of a documentary on Netflix and other high-profile media coverage. The added media attention is a burden and a blessing.

The media can help inform people about the event while also allowing them to stay away. "It is not a spectator event. I hate it, because everyone wants a piece of that feeling [of the Barkley Marathons]. We just don't have room for people to come here and watch. This is all set up at a small campground. The runners are gone for several hours at a time in the middle of the woods. We need the media to let people know about the race because that's the best way for them to experience it," said Cantrell.

The hoopla is the result of true substance. The race is as intriguing as it is insane. Runners have to complete five 20-mile loops up and down the hills of Frozen Head State Park within 60 hours. Runners do not know when the race will start, other than sometime between midnight and noon on Saturday.

They are given one-hour advance notice of the start when Cantrell blows a conch shell. The race begins when Cantrell lights a cigarette.

(03/23/2018) Views: 1,690 ⚡AMP
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This race is considered the Coldest Ultramarathon on the Planet

The Yukon Arctic Ultra conditions sound like that of a frozen tundra nightmare in what could be the Canadian equivalent of the Barkley Marathons. Race director Robert Pollhammer posted on Facebook on Thursday that South African Jethro De Decker was the lone runner to make it to the finish line of the 300-miler (483K). Temperatures were at or below -40 for almost the entire week that the race went on. “It was a tough year, Many of the participants of the 300-miler, were taken off course and treated for frostbite and/or hypothermia at the hospital," says Robert. For sure this is the Coldest Ultramarathon... (02/08/2018) Views: 1,033 ⚡AMP
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