The Barkley 100 Mile Race
There are several races that claim the title of Toughest Race In The World. By all written accounts by serious athletes who have competed in this race, there can be no doubt that the Barkley requires a unique combination of traits, abilities and determination demonstrated by few athletes at this time. The sport of ultrarunning is an athletic outpost beyond the horizon of 99.9% of runners at this time (January 2007) and is peopled by people who love to run. Among this small group of runners is another sub-set of runners who thrive on challenges that are beyond the comprehension of the larger group of ultrarunners. And then there the people who have completed the Barkley.
"The Barkley started in 1986 as a 50 mile race, but there were no finishers until 1988. The following year the race was extended to 55 miles and 27.000 ft climb for 3 loops, with a 36 hour cutoff. A 110 mile, 6 loop course was added with a 50 hour cutoff. Nobody ever finished the 110 miler.
In 1995, the course was changed to a 20 mile loop and the fun run was lengthened to 60 miles (3 loops) with 30,000 ft of climb and a 40 hour cutoff. The 110 miler was replaced by a 5 loop, 100 mile course with 50,000 ft of climb and 60 hour cutoff. That was the year that Mark Williams finished in 59:28." Matt Mahoney
There wasn't another finisher in the race until 2001 when Blake Wood and David Horton completed the distance. In 2003 Cave Dog (Ted Keizer) set the course record in 56:57:52.
In 2004 Mike Tilden and Jim Nelson finished 3 minutes apart in 57:25:18 and 57:28:25 respectively.
Matt Mahoney says on his website "Since the race began in 1986, only 6 runners out of 500 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff."
In 2006 Dan Baglione set a new age 75 speed record of 2 miles in 32 hours.
Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee