After two and a half days out on some of the most rugged and inhospitable environments known to ultra runners.

You stumble out of the wilderness and into an opening.

Half stagger yet runs, crawl and gasp to that yellow gate signifying the end of the 5th loop.



You look at your watch and if it’s less than 60 hours. you have tamed the beast.

This has only happened 14 times in the history of the Barkley Marathons and today a 15th joins the fabled few since 1986 that have taken on this monster and survived until the end.

For those of you that are not aware last weekend saw the annual running of one of the hardest and most obscure events in Ultrarunning.

Held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee.

An event inspired out of the true story of the escape of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr, from nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary who, once escaped,  traversed only  8 miles in 55 hours across this terrain.

This is a non-marked, no support, 100 mile-ish, 5 loop behemoth that has taken more runners past the brink of exhaustion than most would care to remember.

It is an amazing story and one, like the race, is shrouded in mysteries and best discovered by yourself.

This year’s race

On his third attempt John Kelly (Washington, D.C.’s) in a time of 59hrs and 30mins has achieved his dream and completed the Barkley Marathons, a truly epic achievement.

For another runner, Canadian Gary Robbins, one wrong turn and a mere 6 seconds was all that stood in the way of him becoming the 16th finisher of the Barkley Marathons.

The footage captured at the end of this race is as real as it gets, where both men put everything on the line for this event, both delusional, spent and overwhelmed in emotions.

This truly was inspiring in its camaraderie and as raw as you will ever see.


Read all the amazing details of this year’s race from the Canadian Running magazine

who have provided amazing coverage of this grizzly and mysterious event

Follow the link here:

Also to get a taste for the event, a must watch is

The 2012 Barkley full-length documentary titled The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young, directed by Annika Iltis and Timothy Kane.

Watch the trailer  below :


This has got me thinking… What is the hardest event in Australia?

or has it not been created yet?

(Post your thoughts in the comments below)

But for now, I can only show my respect to all the competitors of this year’s event.

It looks brutal physically and mentally and surely ranks as one of the hardest Ultramarathons in the world, so for anyone who started that journey I salute you!

Congratulations to John Kelly and Gary Robbins for putting it all on the line and thanks to you for your support.

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