The year the course won

No one fin­ished the 2018 Barkley Marathons

Trail Running (UK) - - Warm- Up | Trail News -

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!”

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