The year the course won
No one finished the 2018 Barkley Marathons
Heavy rain and fog conspired to ensure no competitor went beyond the third lap of this year’s Barkley Marathons, in Tennessee, USA, this March. The result was hardly surprising, though. Only 17 times in 32 years have people finished the full five laps of the beyond-tough event.
“It’s the hardest ultra trail-running race there is,” said Ireland’s Eoin Keith, who completed two laps before being timed out with a suspected broken collarbone. “The fact it’s designed to be just on the edge of human capability makes Barkley challenging and interesting,” the Spine Race course record-holder told TR.
But even after loop one Keith knew completing five laps within the 60-hour time limit was unlikely. “I had problems learning the vagaries of Barkley-style navigation, and lost my compass. I wasn’t able to keep pace with the veteran runners I was hoping to shadow and learn from. On the plus side, I had learned tons, was now navigating well, coping with the stormy weather happily and enjoying the experience,” he said. But after slipping and hurting his collarbone, Keith didn’t complete lap two within the cut-off. “It was truly epic. The race deserves its reputation for sure. It’s mentally and physically exhausting, but enjoyable in the usual masochistic ultrarunning style!”