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The Barkley Marathon

The Barkley Marathon is effectively a super marathon (also known as an ultra-marathon). It is over 100 miles long, on rough hiking terrain, and must be completed in less than 60 hours. Depending on the precise route, the distance is said to be closer to 120 miles - making it roughly 4 times the distance of a normal marathon (a normal marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards or 42.195 km).


The Barkley isn't so much a speed race. It is a race of endurance, determination, sacrifice, careful preparation, and orienteering skills. Most people never even finish the race. They quit because they are lost, starving, dehydrated, lost their will to finish, lacked the endurance to finish, didn't prepare enough.

Participants get a map and a compass. The route of the course is unmarked.

The Barkley Marathon Factoids
  • Takes place in late March / early April.
  • The Barkley course was designed by Gary "Lazarus Lake" Cantrell.
  • The Barkley is named after Gary's running buddy Barry Barkley.
  • Only 40 runners are allowed to run the Barkley each year.
  • Potential entrants must complete an essay on "Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley".
  • Potential entrants are expected to be experienced at running endurance races / marathons. It is not for amateurs.
  • The entrance fee is a mere $1.60.
  • First time runners are required to bring a license plate from their state/country as part of the entrance fee.
  • If accepted, an entrant receives a "letter of condolence".
  • The course is a 20 mile unmarked loop. Each runner must complete the loop 5 times to finish.
  • There are no aid stations except water at two points along the route.
  • The combined hill climb involved during the race includes 54,200 feet of accumulated vertical climb.
  • The race officially begins when a cigarette is lit by the race director, Gary Cantrell.
  • Between 1995 and 2017 only 18 people have ever finished the Barkley. The vast majority fail to even finish.
  • The current record is held by Brett Maune who in 2012 finished the race in 52 hours, 3 minutes and 8 seconds.
In 2012 a documentary about the Barkley was made, titled "The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young". The documentary film is currently available on Netflix.



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