Thursday, March 28, 2013

Barkley Marathons

For something entirely different, check out this New York Times story on the Barkley Marathons, a 100 (or is it 130?) mile footrace through the Appalachians with over 60,000 feet of elevation.  And no aid stations.  While nearly 800 ultrarunners have participated in the race, only 12 have finished within the 60-hour time limit.

But really, is it as tough as the Times makes it out to be?  Matt Mahoney has pictures.  He notes that: 
In 2001, after several failed attempts, Blake Wood, 42, NM, and David Horton, 50, VA, finished together in 58:21, only to be disqualified for inadvertently leaving the course to follow a parallel route for about 200 yards. This route (on the south side of the stream instead of the north side) has slightly better footing and had been the normal route until 2000.   To give you some idea of the difficulty of this course, Blake had won the 2001 Rocky Raccoon 100 in 16:13, and the 1999 Hardrock 100 in 30:11. David Horton won Hardrock in 29:35 in 1993 and in 1991 set a course record for the Appalachian Trail, 2160 miles in 52 days.
And there's more -- much more -- in this old article from the Washington Post, including the story of a Swedish runner, Milan Milanovich who:
took a wrong turn and ran into the fence of the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Suspicious prison guards, alarmed to spot a hiker in such a remote spot, forced Milanovich to the ground at gunpoint.
Now that's an excuse for not finishing!

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