They Have 60 Hours to Run 100 Miles. It's Nearly Impossible

Only 15 people have managed to get to the end of the Barkley Marathons in time in 36 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2022 4:25 PM CDT
No One Managed to Finish This Punishing Race in 2022
A stock photo of Frozen Head State Park, where the race takes place.   (Getty Images / Kannan Sundaram)

We've written about the Barkley Marathons in the past and can't resist an update. The punishing 100-mile race is eye-poppingly difficult, so much so that no runners managed to finish in 2022—or many of the previous years. Since its 1986 founding, only 15 have managed to complete all five rounds of the same loop through Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee within the allotted 60 hours. The Guardian looked at this year's race, which kicked off on March 8 with about 40 participants. One of them was first-timer Enrico Frigeri, a 34-year-old from Brazil. One element that did him in was the books that are hidden along the route, which runners need to find and tear pages from. Making it harder, the course is unmarked—runners have to figure it out with a map and compass.

Those who finish—two laps clockwise, two counterclockwise, and the last in the direction the lead runner picks, if a lead runner manages to get that far—will have have logged about 120,000 feet of elevation change. Co-founder Gary 'Lazarus Lake' Cantrell, aka Laz, says all successful entrants are well-qualified. They pay just $1.60 to enter (plus a random item; first-timers have to fork over a license plate from their home state or country) and receive a "letter of condolence" confirming their slot. Laz gives the No. 1 bib to the person who is christened least likely to finish even one lap; they run with the nickname "human sacrifice." (Read more about the "world's most hellish race" here.)

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