The email arrived into my inbox and I took a deep intake when I saw who the sender was (Lazarus Lake), and what the subject line was…
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss! I’m in…. Oh crap! Now I’ve really gone and done it. It appears I was now an idiot!
I was wondering how I’d follow up last year’s epic racing. Now I had my answer. Everything else planned for the year was swept to relative insignificance. I was getting a shot at competing in the Barkley Marathons
The Barkley Marathons – What the hell is that!
The Barkley Marathons is, as far as I’m concerned anyway, the toughest running race there is. It is designed by its evil genius creator, the man generally known as Lazarus Lake, to be just slightly beyond what can realistically be finished. More often than not Laz is right. More years than not there are no official finishers of the race. In fact out of about 1000 starters over its history there have been only 18 finishes by 15 runners (A few idiots have completed it more than once).
In recent years Barkley has become much more widely known beyond niche ultrarunning circles, mainly thanks to the release of the film The Barkley Marathons – The Race That Eats Its Young.
The race is quirky in so many ways. There is no race website. There is no obvious entry process. People who know about the details generally don’t talk about it. Laz regards anyone who tries to enter his ultra torture-fest to be an idiot, by definition. He happily addresses all the entrants as such as such. Being Irish though, I find the hiberno-English word Eejit to be more apt in my case!
But anyway, there’s loads of very very interesting information out there on the Barkley if you go looking for it. I’ve been trying not to talk about it too much, so I won’t start here. It’s been hard keeping relatively quiet about this, as the thought of racing it fills me with a combination of excitement and terror. One thing is for sure… it’ll be one hell of an experience.
As time marches forward towards the traditional Barkley date of April 1st (Yes, fool’s day) the clock is ticking ever more loudly and the level of terror is rising with it!
As this is my A+++ race this year I’m throwing everything I can at it. I’ll try to get at least one more post written on planning and preparations, and why the Barkley is so much more intimidating than any other run I’ve done.
Helping throw everything at are my regular Sponsors Columbia, providing me with their superb racing clothes and shoes, along with The Great Outdoors in Dublin, helping with some other very useful pieces of gear.
For this race I’m getting huge sponsorship from one of my Ultra running heroes… Richard Donovan of Global Running Adventures, which organizes the North Pole Marathon, Antarctic Ice Marathon, Volcano Marathon and World Marathon Challenge (7 Marathons 7 Continents 7 Days). As well as being one of the best race organisers there is, he is also an accomplished ultra runner in his own right. He has run across at least 3 continents already, with at least another 2 to come, including Antarctic! I can say with confidence that no-one has done more for Irish ultra running than Richard.
The other Richard who deserves a big mention is Richard Nunan, my Adventure Racing team mate on team Columbia Ireland. He played a huge role as one of my support crew on my Mizen to Malin record breaking run last year. He’ll be coming along to Barkley to help out with support, and hopefully provide his usual standard of colourful updates on race developments.
More to follow…