The Barkley Marathons – 100 Mile Run

April 11, 2009 admin News

Considered one of the toughest 100 mile runs in the world, Barkley consists of 52,900 feet of climb (and descent) and has only been completed by 8 runners since beginning in 1986. Runners complete 5 20-mile loops with cutoffs of 12-hours per loop and they collect pages from various books along the way to prove they were there. This year, NEO Trail members John Dewalt, Bill Losey, and Jim Harris took part in the event.

Jim Harris completed 2 official loops in 22:08 and continued on for 7 more books. Becoming an ultra veteran, Jim is tough as nails and is a good measure to how tough the course really is. He will likely make a return to Barkley in the future with even higher goals. After the race Jim had this to say about the mental toughness required for Barkely and plans for it in 2010:

“Once you let that doubt creep into your brain, you are done. QUIT is a tough word to deal with. Took me 5 minutes in the moment to decide to give it up, but hard to get over and hope to come to grips with it soon. Wish I could go back and at least try to make it up to Fyke’s Peak. I was too scared to go back into the woods. Being alone is huge and that is where I gave up. Laz already called the race date for next year, March 26th. Hope that I am in Tennessee that weekend for another try on the course.”

John Dewalt finished 1 loop in 11:27 officially, but toughed it out and finished another loop over the limit. At the age of 71, John is an ULTRA LEGEND. He has completed countless ultras including Hard Rock 13 times!! Anyone who has seen him run cannot believe his age and toughness. John has run Barkley many times in the past and consecutively in recent history since 2005.

Bill Losey finished 1 loop in 9:31 officially, but also was not satisfied and ran 7 more books off the clock. Bill has also run Barkley before 5 times including ’06 & ’07 in recent history. Wild Bill AKA Shubi is always up for an adventure and to test his limits. He has run over 20 ultras including Hardrock 100 and Laurel Highlands 70 just to name a few. After the race, Bill had this to say about the “Barkley experience”:

“The course is relentless and never lets up. The atmosphere is what I wish for every ultra and hope that every runner has a chance to experience once in his/her running life. Gather thirty-five of your dear friends and share an experience that is wrought with challenges and obstacles and bundle all that up into one hell of a good time and you just found yourself in Frozen Head.

I am humbled by the determination of those that go further and am in awe of the “8” that have completed the 100. They are a special breed. I believe that I can honestly say that a Barkley finisher is as elite as you can get. This was my fifth year attending and each year I have hopes of exceeding my own expectations and each year I fall short of my goal but get just a lil bit closer.

The hills suck and briers bite which is not the worst of the game, it is the mental that creeps in. Jim was faster and stronger than most. Mentally and physically. Not knowing the course, mental took over. Mentally at some point in this run you ask yourself, WHY. What for and what am I trying to prove and to whom. For me at least, knowing what you have ahead and knowing the suffer sometimes is enough to say “I am done.” Take all the training, dreaming, preparation, planning, and it all boils down to when, in your mind, you’re done, you are done. That is a hole I can’t seem to climb out of. If this makes any sense.”

For many, this may not make true sense in the sense that to fully understand what goes on mentally and physically during this event is like what few other athletes experience. It is in a class of its own and has drawing power like no other race that keeps runners coming back year after year trying to finish one more loop, one more book, or one more step.

Results are posted on the Barkley website along with various pictures and race reports. To view all the pictures taken of NEO Trail members click here. Also, stay posted to the TeamPR forum as Jim will most likely post a report soon.

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