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“It’s not a matter of ‘Did you break?’ It’s a matter of ‘How far can you make it before you break?'”*…

 

Day 1, 1:42 a.m.: Lazarus Lake, who designed the Barkley Marathons in 1986 (no one finished that year), lights a Camel, signaling the start of this year’s race.

Since 1986, the world’s top ultra-runners have fought to compete in the Barkley Marathon, 100 miles through hellish Appalachian Mountain terrain. So far, only 15 have completed it…

For most of us, the 26.2 miles of a marathon represent the epitome of athletic endurance. For others, there are the ultramarathons, races that stretch to fifty or one hundred miles or more through some of the world’s most inhospitable regions. The Badwater 135 winds through the middle of Death Valley in July. The Marathon des Sables is a six-day, 156-mile race across the Sahara Desert. The Hardrock 100 is a high-altitude hundred- miler amid lightning storms and avalanches.

And then there is the Barkley Marathons.

Officially, it consists of five loops through Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, totaling one hundred miles, but most participants believe it to be closer to 130. Runners must ascend and descend about 120,000 feet of elevation—the equivalent of climbing up and down Mount Everest twice. And all this must be done in just sixty hours. As of race time this year, of the more than one thousand people who have run it, only fourteen have finished.

It costs only $1.60 to enter. An application must be sent to a closely guarded email address at precisely the right minute on precisely the right day. The email must include an essay titled “Why I Should Be Allowed to Run in the Barkley.”

You must then complete a written exam that asks, for instance, “Explain the excess positrons in the flux of cosmic rays” and “How much butter should you use to cook a pound of liver (with onions)?” New runners, known as “virgins,” must bring a license plate from their state or country. “Veterans”— returning runners who did not finish—must bring an item of clothing. One year it was a flannel shirt. Another year it was a white dress shirt. This year it’s a pack of white socks. The few who have finished the course and are crazy enough to return, known as “alumni,” need only bring a pack of Camel cigarettes…

“An ever-shifting race, designed by a madman,” the story of the Barkley: “The Masochist’s Marathon.”

* John Kelly, Barkley contestant

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As we hit the trail, we might recall that it was on this date in 1984 that Carl Lewis won the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the second of the four gold medals he won at those Games.

In a career that ran from 1979 to 1996, Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals (eight of them, gold). He is one of only three Olympic athletes who won a gold medal in the same event in four consecutive Olympic Games.  he was voted “World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations and “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, and “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

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