See also The Barkley 100 Mile Race
Arguably the toughest race in the world, this 100 mile race takes place in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee in the USA at the end of March/beginning of April. It also includes a 60 mile Fun Run
The course itself, which has changed distance, route, and elevation many times since its inaugural run in 1986, currently consists of a 20 mile loop with no aid stations except water at two points along the route and the runner's parked car at the beginning of the loop. Runners of the 100 Mile version run this loop five times, with loops three and four being run in the opposite direction and loop five being runner's choice. Runners of the 60 Mile Fun Run (considered to be harder than Hardrock) complete three circuits of the loop.
With 54200 ft of accumulated vertical climb, the 100 Mile Run is considered to be one of the more challenging ultramarathons held in the United States.
In addition to running, competitors must find between nine and 11 books (varies per year) and remove a page from each book as proof of completion of each loop.
The cut-off time for the 100 Mile race is 12 hours per loop, and the cut-off for the 60 Mile version of the race is 40 hours overall, which averages out to approximately 13 hours and 20 minutes per loop. Since the race's inception in 1986, only nine runners (Mark Williams 1995, David Horton and Blake Wood 2001, Ted "Cave Dog" Keizer 2003, Jim Nelson and Mike Tilden 2004, Brian Robinson 2008 (course record 55:42:27), Andrew Thompson 2009, and Jonathan Basham 2010) out of about 700 have completed the 100 Mile race within the official 60 hour cut-off. In 2006 nobody finished even the 60 Mile Fun Run in under 40 hours. The best women's achievement is Sue Johnston's 66 miles in 2001. More than 30 competitors failed to reach first book (2 miles). In 2010 Jonathon Basham finished in 59:18:44 becoming the 10th finisher of the race.
The race is limited to 35 runners and usually fills up quickly the day registration opens. Potential entrants must submit an essay on "Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley." to the Race Director, Gary Cantrell.
The idea for the race was inspired upon hearing about Martin Luther King, Jr assassin James Earl Ray escaping from prison, and making it only 8 miles after running 55 hours in the woods. Cantrell said to himself "I could do at least 100 miles." Thus, the Barkley Marathon was born.