The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014) Script

You're listening to NewsHour from the BBC.

Coming up in the program, we're going to be talking to the founder of an endurance race so tough, hardly anyone has ever finished it.

You always have to keep people a little off guard.

The first rule of Barkley is don't talk about it.

If you talk about it, then you're not going to be part of it.

So it's kind of secret?

It kind of weeds itself out.

If you belong here, you would find out how to get here.

This is about you by yourself against all that out there.

So Laz, what is this?

This is my big map of Tennessee.

Where I have marked down most of the roads I've run on, and I'm trying to think right now where my marker is so I can mark in some that I've done that I haven't put on there yet.

All the orange roads I've run, I remember them all.

Lots of hours went into this.

Lots of damn fun.

Yeah, I'd be curious to know in continuous time, how many hours of running are in that map.

That guy is smarter than a whip, smarter than dickens.

He looks like an old hillbilly redneck, acts like one.

You know, people like to think of him as this sadist for creating this race but, that's not him at all.

I mean neither is he.

Neither is he a bleeding heart.

There is nothing less pleasant to clean than a rattlesnake.

I don't really even like the man very much, but I love him.

Does this make any sense?

You know he was one of the original ultrarunners.

He was one of the original ones.

And what are the Memphis Runners?

It was just the first running club in Memphis.

What does that say '78?

Space Coast Marathon.

Yeah, '78.

Ah, that was a brutal race.


I used to wear shirts that size.

Those were the days.

I could run!

I could run fast.

It didn't seem like I was very fast then, but I feel it would be really fast now, if I could run the times I ran then.

So those are hidden away, Sandra doesn't know I still have them.

Is your fuel gauge broken there?


Oh okay.

We're just on empty?

No, E means excellent.

F means you're fucked.

It's on E we're in excellent shape, we have plenty of gas.

Why, how does yours work?


Lazarus, Lazarus Lake, in the white shirt and the cigarette over there, the guy that hung up all the license plates, he's a dangerous man.

He and Raw Dog are the guys that invented this race.

They made this race out of nothing, out of thin air.

Who is the mastermind behind the Barkley?

Oh, Raw Dog.

I have suggestions to make it easier, but the harder I protest, the more that eggs him on.

He swears that it's you.

Which kind of leaves me obligated to swear that it's him.

Would you say the application process is a secret?

Uh, it's not a very good secret because hundreds of damn people are figuring it out.

It's like a series of complicated ninja moves to get in.

Part of the application involves an exam.

I've never had to take an exam to get into a race before.

If you're selected, you get a letter of condolences, Sorry to inform you, you've been accepted to run the Barkley.

I guess I should get the map and some numbers and stuff out now and,

start getting people signed in, see who's here.

Still Julian Jamison?

Still the same.

You're going to finish 19th.

Okay, do I even have to start?

And we now count you as starting.

And 29.

And at this point we are counting you as a starter.

I'm Brett Maune.

I'm a physicist by training.

I do research in semiconductor devices.

I finished the Barkley last year.

I was the 10th finisher.

I feel like I have some unfinished business with not getting the record.

The main goal is to try and break Flyin' Brian Robinson's record of 55 hours, 42 minutes, and 27 or 37 seconds, I'm not sure.

So that's basically the goal.

I mean, then second to that just finishing, then I'd be the only two-time finisher.

For the entrance fee.

Oh, okay, great.

Application fee.

I'm getting rich here.

We don't give anyone change.


Well, a lot of people think it's $1.60 to enter the race, but that's really not accurate.

We charge $1.60 just to apply, and we don't give the $1.60 back, we keep it.

And that's my retirement plan.

If you get accepted into the race, then the first year when you're a virgin, the first time you come, you have to give us a license plate from your home state or home country.

There ya go.

You know, it was hard to get this off the state trooper vehicle without just, sort of, torching it so I cut off the top.

Something from France.

Something from France and we can tell this time.

Why? Because it says France?

And then in succeeding years, there's various things really kind of according to what it is I need.

For years we charged a white shirt.

Now I have a lot of white shirts.

So we charged socks until I had lots of socks.

Now we're charging a flannel shirt, 'til I get flannel shirts.

This is your shirt.

All right.

That one will be special because it's a German shirt.

Yeah, I had to translate the sizes.

Oh yeah, in centimeters I would have had a really tiny shirt.

It's a pretty low budget production.

For anyone, regardless of their economic situation, if they want to see that kind of a challenge; it can be a poor college student, can afford to do it.

All right, John.

John Fegys.

Yeah, Fegy, that's me.

I'm John Fegyveresi, I'm from Pennsylvania.

I'm sort of just a poor, stipend-funded grad student right now and this is a great event for that because it only costs $1.60 to do so.

This is my first time here.

I study glaciology and climate change, paleo-climate actually.

Currently, I'm working on a project where we're looking at an ice core from Antarctica.

Ah no, we like the Antarctica plate.

All right. There you go.

That will add a certain spice.


You like numbers right?

Sure, yeah.

Scientists and numbers, they almost go together.

This is the ugly truth and we now are counting on you starting.

All right, here we go.

Thank you, sir.

You are officially in the starting field.


It's hard to put a finger on it.

I don't remember exactly what it is I searched for.

Somebody may have said something, Oh, you think that's hard, you should look at this race they have down in Tennessee.

And I just started reading the race reports and it just was so fascinating to me.

I was like, this is what I gotta try.

Basically, for the last six months I've done nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe this event.

I think people have often said that you could charge a huge fee and people would pay it and come.

But I don't think you would get the same collection of people.

You like to have people that will enjoy the race and people that will enjoy each other.

And, plus, for a $1.60 and a license plate, if people have complaints, I can just laugh.

You are officially starting.

Oh my goodness.

I've got your shirt.


Have you made a fun run?


I didn't think so.

It's my year.

You're a really good runner not to have a fun run.

Do you have the map?

Course map?

The master map is around somewhere.


On Friday, we put out one master map and the people have to mark their own map.

If they don't exactly match the master map, that's their own problem.

But it forces them to have some familiarity with what the layout of the course is and find out a lot of things that it would be a lot less convenient to recognize that you have this question when you're eight hours into the race.

Whenever you get to the first trail just start following it and if it switchbacks down you went the wrong way.

I thought it was right there?

It is. It's not!

They got rid of that, and now they're going...

I think the instructions last were basically, Keep on following the ridge up and climb to the highest point.

When it hurts more, you're on the right path.

Or something like that.

To your right.

45 to your right.

If you hit the big rock, it's on this side.

If you hit the trail, it's on that side.


Jeep road, you go across, and you go right?

No no, the jeep road you go left.

You'll want the instructions, the course map, you'll know where all the sweet new stuff is.


You're going to like the new hill.

It's a source of endless speculation, decoding what Laz says.

There's this tree that's got three trunks, and there's this other tree that's got four trunks, and they're right next to each other.

To him, that's like, he really knows the area and that means a lot.

As if that would be helpful to me, a tree with three trunks when they're in a forest!

So his instructions require you to know the history of his instructions.

I don't know everyone who's in it.

I would be most worried about Jared Campbell.

He was a past winner of the Hardrock 100 in Colorado.

So he's clearly in pretty good shape.

So he would be my top concern.

However, he's a virgin at the Barkley, which gives him an enormous disadvantage.

Ya know.

Which will definitely be relevant on Loop five, if it gets to that point.

So, we'll see.

Hopefully he's running, I haven't seen him yet.

You're seated 47th out of 35.


I like to start at the back of the pack.

I'm Jared Campbell.

I'm from Salt Lake City, Utah.

I'm an engineer, mechanical engineer.

Have you ever been up here before, to Frozen Head?

Never have.

Just drove in about five to ten minutes ago.

So yeah, this is all new to me at this point.

There's a great website out there with tons of information on it.

I'm totally kidding.

There's no information online at all, so it really helps to know somebody.

I think my intent is to really go out and pair up with someone who knows the course for at least a lap or two.

Try to get it figured out and go from there.

The virgins tend to want to stick with a veteran for the confidence in knowing where they are because they're seeing it all for the first time.

But if you don't have a certain number of veterans, you just have people wandering around out in the woods all day.

I am Wouter Hamelinck from Belgium.

I took my bike with me, a folding bike, that I had in my luggage.

And from Knoxville airport, I was cycling over to the park.

I am here to run the Barkley and well, I try to get as far as I can.

And as we know, that might be not so far, but okay we try to make the best of it.

Is it well known in Europe?

I think it ranks among the best known races, US races, in Europe.

I've been here two years ago, and then it was a rather total disaster so I try to do better than that.

How did you do two years ago?

Just one loop.

Do you have any goals this year?

Well you should at least hope for five loops.

If you don't hope it, you shouldn't start.

But I will be disappointed if I don't get a Fun Run.

As you probably know, the course adds up to...

Each loop is 20.00 miles.

And every time the course changes, somehow it's still 20.00 miles, even if he's directly added something.

Maybe it's both.

Maybe it's exactly 20 miles and maybe it's a bit more.

That's probably about as true as you can get.

Part of the whole adventure is having a little uncertainty, having to use your route-finding skills.

We do it twice clockwise, a daytime loop clockwise and a nighttime loop clockwise, and then a daytime loop counterclockwise and a nighttime loop counterclockwise.

On the fifth loop we send them out in opposite directions.

The first guy who leaves on the fifth loop can go either way he wants, clockwise or counterclockwise, but the next person has to go the opposite direction.

Every loop you're doing is going to be unique because of the time of the day and the direction.

I just hope to slog it out and get to the end.

Really, that's my whole objective.

I think I'd be thrilled if I could finish 5 laps, so that's it.

Try to have the best time that I can out there but I'm not going into this thinking it's going to be fun, to be honest.

If you're going to quit and you know you're going to quit, quit somewhere where there's a trail by it.

If you're going to quit, quit early.

No don't quit early, or don't quit at all because you gotta do five.

But if you're out here, you're...

It took us, I think, four hours just to get back.

That's after you quit.


I just don't want to get so lost that it becomes, like, embarrassing that I end up having to get airlifted out or something.

And yeah, become one of those stories of miserable failures.

I just want to be a regular failure like everyone else.

Well you know the record for futility is poor Dan Baglione who covered two official miles on the course and was out there for 32 hours.

So I now hold the record for the slowest absolute pace ever at Barkley;

16 hours per mile.

Are you excited, are you nervous?

How do you feel right now?

Not yet.

I can't be nervous until tomorrow morning.

How do you know it's not going to start tonight?

Could be.

Yeah, so one of the beloved features is wondering when it'll start.

We actually only narrow the start down to about a 12-hour period between midnight and noon, on Saturday of race weekend.

And at the time that me and Raw Dog picked out a year earlier, we blow a conch shell and that means the runners have one hour until they start.

From trying to figure out how to enter the race, to actually finally toeing the starting line and going out in the woods, there's all kinds of little things that you just have to deal with.

And I've found, over the years, people who have trouble with any of those things are not going to do well out on the course

because it's not going to be the way you planned it.

It was nice weather for the snake.

What time is this?

There we go.


Game on.

One hour to go.

There it is.

Time to get ready.

How you feeling?

A lot better now since the conch blew, man.

Yeah, I was sort of stressing all night because I was here last year and had the middle of the night start, so you're sort of anticipating that again.

You keep waiting for the conch to blow all night long.

Didn't sleep too well.

It's been nerve wracking just sitting here so I'm happy to have heard the noise and the conch shell, and get ready to go.

I slept miserably from, I think, about

10 to 7 so...

Miserable, but you never really get good sleep before a race so, whatever.

I put my shirt on backwards, that's not a good start.

I think you kind of have to come at least hoping to finish.

I mean, especially when I think about all that training.

I have to at least believe that I could do it so that's about as best as I could say.

I know the odds are super against me and who knows?

But, I have to at least say that...

60 hours, right? 60 hours.

[instrumental music with clock ticking]

I've never gone quite that long without sleep on an event.

The longest I've ever gone is about 48 hours so this will be in uncharted territory for me as well.

With the Barkley, there's, since it's so steep there's a lot of pressure both on the front and the bottom of the heel.

Does everyone do this?

I don't see how you could get by without doing it because you're definitely going to get blisters on your heel and after a while, that's just going to become debilitating.

I don't think these are even the socks I was intending to wear but they're on now so...

About ready?


You got plenty, you got more than that or is that it?

I got one more bottle and 100 ounce water.

Oh, okay cool.

Yeah, you're good to go.

I've got the Camelback, yeah.

You got your map?

Uh huh, yeah.

All right.

One, two, three, four, five.

Wow, Aidan do you have socks like that?

This is my favorite day of the year.

I love this event.

How many times have you run it?

This will be my 16th.

The most important thing is how did you sleep last night?

Four minutes!

Oh, I slept like a baby.


Because that's what's important.

That's what's important.

I knew when it would start.

Don't be shy, step on up!

Step right up!

Carl, behind the gate.

Good luck, buddy.

All right, we've got about a minute to go.

This would be the part of the race where they give you lots of good advice.

If y'all would take good advice, you wouldn't be here.

So in about 50 seconds, we're going to light a cigarette.

Like all great races in traditional history, we light a cigarette and that means they're off.

Can they jump over the yellow gate?

They are perfectly free to jump over the yellow gate.

That might save them a couple hundredths of a second there.

Do it the right way.

Around, over, under or through.

If you're going to face a real challenge it has to be a real challenge.

You can't accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.

Pretty much everybody you see go out there, you really want them to succeed.

You know that most of them won't and there is kind of maybe a dark humor to all the things that go on.

Some of the failures are spectacular and really funny.

But you like to see people have the opportunity to really find out that something about themselves.

Good luck Stu.

How did the Barkley start or where did you get the idea?

The James Earl Ray escape.

Word that he had gotten out of the prison into this area and we were familiar with it because we'd hiked up here for some years.

And because when trail running started to become popular, and we thought it was amazing that people were running astounding times on trails.

We didn't really have a picture in our mind of what kind of trails they were running.

We thought of trails like this.

We had pretty well said, man, this would be such a...

I guess the only term, it would be a ballbuster of a race.

The Barkley course is about one third on-trail, and that's the formal trail in the park, and two thirds or more off-trail, keeping in mind every year the course is going to change a little bit.

The off-trail sections are not marked.

Is anything marked?

No, no, there's no marks.

Nothing is marked.

You get a map, a compass.

Can't use GPS.

And this year, due to popular demand, they don't get to use altimeters.

Whatever you can carry on your back and you're on your own.

We do try on most years to put out a couple of water drops along the way for people who are reluctant to drink out of the creek.

Do you think one year he'd let us fill one jug with moonshine?

Frozen Head is a place that creates its own weather.

Howling winds and hail, sleet, snow, ice and this time, in the spring in Tennessee, you can get, especially at Frozen Head, almost anything.

Both of the water drops are at elevation so there are years when what we have out there for the runners are 100 8-pound blocks of ice.

They come back and say, the water is all frozen solid.

Yeah, it's 10 degrees.

What did you think would happen?

Pillars of Doom.

Woo! That's slippery.

Watch out if you launch off.

There's nothing in the military I did that was this hard.

I used to be in Special Operations for about four years and I've done some of the hardest things you can do and so I tell people you might want to rethink this

'cuz I'm telling you, it's no joke.

I truly think it's the world's toughest trail race.

You know the real attraction of it is that every year there are some really good people that come to do it and most years, nobody finishes it.

Barkley's out there on the edge of possibility, impossibility.

There's no other event that I know of in this world that is as hard.

When you talk about being the hardest,

there's really not such a measurement because you have races that are in extreme heat, races that are at extreme altitude.

So we never really thought of it that this will the hardest race, but we felt like you would put something out there that was right at the limit of what people could do.

One of the big motivators in running ultras is that people want to challenge their limitations.

They want to see how much they can do.

And you can't really tell how much you can do until you try to do something that's more.

Whatcha got?

All right you're next, go ahead Michiel.


Uh oh, go fast, go fast.

Here ya go.

I'm going to start following Ed.

The first couple of years, runners had a hard time staying on course and so I said, Well, why don't you put a book out there and have each runner tear out a page to prove that they got to that book?

And the race number that you have corresponds to a page in the books that you're supposed to tear out to show that you've been through the whole course.

And so if you get race number 35, that means every time you come to a book, you have to pull out page 35 of that book.

They're unofficial checkpoints.

They give us the assurance that people did the course.

They give the other runners the assurance because some people will have a tendency to think maybe someone else is cheating and not doing the right thing.

And some of the people can't find their way around and will come back and believe in their heart they did the loop when, who knows where they went?

The titles are fun.

They'll be things like The Valley of Death or Almost Home, things which you would look at that book and, knowing where you are on the course you would think to yourself, Ah, he's just messing with us now.

This is The Idiot, is the name of the book.

There is no live web update, there's no chip-timing here, there's books.

There's books that we find in the woods.

How old school is that?

This year we had 11 books.

Ahhh! I found it!

All of the places out there have their own names.

It just kind of developed over the years.

And it's really kind of handy because they're not on the park maps.

So the people who wanted to come out here and wander into the areas where people are really not supposed to be, don't have a map reference to find them.

It's a unique hill.

It's the only one where you can see the whole hill.

And when we came around the corner, he said, which is apparently an old saying...

Let's see, my spectacles, testicles, wallet and cigars.

And I just heard him say testicle spectacle and thought...

I just had this vision of the people coming around.

It's kind of a test of manhood

So it became the Testicle Spectacle with an entirely different meaning.

That's fucked up.

Over the years, when you drew the course map it looked exactly like the head of a rat, with an open mouth.

So they started calling it the Rat Jaw and then it kind of stuck.

And because it has all the briars, or has some of the worst briars most years, that's where people get the most rat bites.

They started calling their briar scratches rat bites.

That's a saw briar.

Out in the woods, you come on some of them they're 20 to 30 feet tall, have a stem that big and thorns about that long.

Coming down Rat Jaw, these briars are fucking everywhere.


The country people had a name for them, they were called wait-a-minutes because you step into it with your leg and a piece pulls down from the back and snags your ear.

Help me.


On your face?

In my ear. Got it.

And then when the runners get tired, they just put their arms in front of their face and go.

Hey Laz, who's this year's Human Sacrifice?

Tim Hardy.

And Tim is in way over his head.

Tim Hardy is really good and done a lot of good stuff but he's kind of playing it by ear and, yeah, he's dead.

Every year, the runners seem to like, even at the risk of losing one chance at getting a slot themselves, that one person gets entered who has absolutely no business out there.


How did he get number one?

Is he the top seed?

He is the top seed.

Yeah, I'm the top seed, all right.

We expect him to be back first.

You just wade through all of the available information and you find that person, that poor unfortunate soul,

who's gonna be in way over his head.

It was going to take me at least three hours to get up to book seven and I was out of water.

Undertrained for this one.

Just kinda hard to...

Just hard over all?


This is the hardest course I've ever been on.



Where'd you make it to?

Not very far.

Not very far?

Get your bugle out.

Okay, the first one all year, it might be a little rusty.

That's alright, you gotta start somewhere.

We play Taps to commemorate that they came up short of the mark.

I learned how to play the bugle in scouts.

And when Gary found out I could play the bugle, this was probably 15 years ago, he suggested that I should play taps every time someone quits or is timed out or does not continue.

They get tapped.

I guess it's a way of

the final punishment, I guess.

Let's the whole camp know that somebody quit.

Good job. Welcome back Way to go guys.

All right, all the way touch the gate.

7:41:07 and:06.

Good times out there.

Isn't that sweet?

Oh, it's a little slice of heaven you got out there.

Bev and Alan are probably going to be about 10 minutes behind us.

This may be the best you're going to see me, so.

7:44:28 and:30.

So how did you like it? Was it about what you were expecting?

Oh, it was fabulous.

When you get back to the yellow gate, it's the interloopal period.

It's only that interim period, interloopal, that you're allowed to get aid.

You are free to go to the campsite, replenish your stocks.

You can sleep if you think you have time.

If you're continuing on, the clock never stops.

The clock doesn't stop until the runner stops.

When you're in camp, there's a tremendous temptation to not go back out.

You don't want to have that debate in your mind.

You just silence the debate before you even start running.

I had some good guides.

I'd be still looking for Book one if I didn't have Brett and the Abbs.

I'm ready, yeah sure.

All right, thanks y'all.

Good luck.

Have fun.

Okay, will do.

See ya.

Thanks Matt, for your help, by the way.

Boy that pace is pretty impressive.

All right, Wouter!

11 pages. Touch the gate.


Do you want to make sure of your count before you go?

You can count them.

Well, yeah.



Good job.

One, two, three.

9:07:24 and 25.

If you don't have the right amount, you may wish you had.

My heart rate monitor says I burned 7,000 calories.

I only ate about three.

You didn't even make it to the prison?


You just don't know what you missed, anyway.

We're supposed to go to the Northeast corner of the prison and there's a stream coming out of a tunnel underneath the prison.

And we're going to crawl into that and crawl under the prison.

That's the instructions.

And it's an active prison, apparently, so there are guards here.

Well, this is an interesting Barkley tradition.

We are walking under the prison.

Eight years have passed since James Earl Ray began serving a 99-year prison sentence for the assassination of Dr. King.

His escape was big news when it happened, at least in Tennessee.

And I think most everywhere in the country, that it was big news.

He was a famous bad guy and then he'd got out of this inescapable prison.

Police with bloodhounds on the ground, helicopters with infrared detection devices in the air, all of them scouring a five square-mile area in the rugged Tennessee hill country around the maximum-security Brushy Mountain Prison near Petros, Tennessee.

The object of their manhunt: six convicts including James Earl Ray.

I'm Stonney Ray Lane.

I was Warden of Brushy Mountain Penitentiary from the years 1976 to 1980.

We have an extensive manhunt still going on involving Brushy Mountain Correctional Officers.

Ray and his two companions went straight up the mountain.

At first, prison officials were confident they would apprehend James Earl Ray within hours not far from the prison.

But hours have now turned into days, and the search area has expanded to distances far from the prison.

For a while over the weekend, James Earl Ray was at the top of the FBI's Most-Wanted List for the second time in his life, then the hunt ended.

He was taken in custody in the woods.

He had laid down, covered himself up with leaves, pulled leaves over him, and the dog team walked up on him and took him in custody.

He was worn out.

He had been out 54 hours.

How far away from the prison is that?

We're talking about, what? Eight miles?


Eight miles.

The old story, you might beat Brushy but you're not going to beat those mountains.

And this concludes one of the largest manhunts in the history of Tennessee.

We talked about his kind of pathetic attempt and only going 8.5 miles in 54 hours.

And I said I thought I could go 100 miles out here in that length of time.

So that was sort of the benchmark to see if people couldn't go 100 miles out here and...

Some can but not many.

We are on the other side of the prison, and the book.

I occasionally get angry mail, angry emails and letters from people who believe that this is some sort of a tribute to James Earl Ray.

It's much more of the opposite.

There's a man with a mission right there.

You are now a free man.

Go out there and get it, man.

Get it man.

Looking real good.

Good job, looking good.


It's warm out there, Laz.

It's supposed to be a lot better tomorrow.

Is it?

About 10 degrees warmer.

One of the previous finishers thought that in a hot year, no one could finish.

Given the forecast, it will be the warmest Barkley on record.

To the gate in 9:29:52.

So you're perfectly on your 9:30 pace.

And 9:47:42.

Good job, Rob.

You are looking good.

A little warm out there today.

You have finished the Fun Run, haven't you?


Okay, I think you've got a chance.

Yeah, I'm going to try.

Oh, he's got it in the bag.

It's not even going to be hard for him.

You've got a chance!

I've got a chance.

Go get it!

Are you ready to be on your own? I am.

You are now officially in a new loop.

You ready to be free?

You are into loop two at 10:18:20.

Saturday night is always fun.

All night long you'll watch them come down quitter's road real slow.

And they come down this way?

Lots of 'em will.

All right.

I've gotta have those numbers right.

So was it easier than you thought?

Oh yeah.

I'd say you still have a chance to win this thing.

All right, that's what I need to hear.

That's it.

All right, let's go get some food.

Where did you drop?

On his head, it looks like.


I've gotta be the first drop I'm sure.

Nope, second.

And we were actually just commenting on how few there were.

And there'll be more to join you soon.


All right.

Virgin going out alone at night.

Alone at night.

You do have a light?

You've got a jacket?


115 at 10:54:11, go get 'em.

Go Ed.

All right, Ed!


Touch the gate.

Touch the gate, boom!

James, letting the Brits down in their fine record.

You going back out? No You haven't lived until you've done the night loop.

Yeah, night loop's real good.

I'm afraid I won't live if I do a night loop.

Are you sure?

I'm sure. I'm done.

Because if you're done, we have a man to play a song for you.

Oh excellent.

Are you sure?

I'm sure.

I've had all I can take.

I've had all I can handle.

I couldn't even comprehend what it was.

I thought I had an idea, but I had no clue.

We are coming to hear taps.

My legs hurt so much I feel stupid for starting another loop, but it's what I came here for.

Go get 'em Ed!

Thank you!

You can do it!

I'm goin' out.

You're goin' back out for loop two?

There's a runner going back out.

All right!

And you're number 127.


Tear 'em up, we'll see you in about

9.5 hours.

For some people, to finish the Fun Run is the accomplishment of a lifetime.

And for some of them to finish one loop is the achievement of a lifetime.

And for some people, just to get back to camp alive is all they want in the world.


You're not doing the reverse loop are you?

Are you tap-worthy?

How far did you get?

Temple of Doom.

Do you feel as good as you look?

The Pillars of Doom.

I laid on the trail waiting for somebody but nobody came.

You didn't wait long enough.


You still have time to go back out.

It's highly unlikely that anyone will die out there because we try to make sure that people know what they're doing and you have some control over the situation, but they are going to figuratively die because they're going to fail.

They're going to get to the end.

They are people who are used to succeeding.

We have such a high number of people that have graduate degrees because they set goals, they accomplish them, they don't let anything stand in their way.

And I think the race appeals to them because they could fail.

This climb really scrapes the hell out of you.


It's just razor-sharp down there, you'd be amazed.

All right.

You alright?

Time for taps.

Time for taps?


Oh no!

You have 16 hours to finish another loop.

You could get a little rest, you might feel better.

Think how good it'll feel when you finish that third loop.

You came a long way for a 40-mile training run.

Are you absolutely positive?

Is that your final answer?

Is Dave uh... You are the luckiest man this morning.

It's been ugly.

That was easy.

First loop was fine.

A bit fast, but okay.

But then the second loop, my feet gave up.

My feet were totally wasted.

I'm disappointed.

I only got two loops.

In any given year, there's probably at least several people who could finish.

But at the end of the day, either due to some run management issue, like dehydration and not eating properly and frequently enough, or due to mental breakdown, essentially, one of those reasons, they end up not doing it.

But yeah, the mental aspect is key.

Magnificent effort, Byron.

Taps please.

There's a man who never brings anything back, leaves it all on the course.

I arrived at the yellow gate and said, Taps please.

I'm done.

Barkley won, there's nothing else I can do.

Sometimes, when something defeats us, we feel the need to go back and prove something to ourselves, I guess.

I don't feel that way about this.

It was just, I gave everything I had and it wasn't enough, and I'm okay with that.

Still on time to maybe do it so, we'll see.

I haven't slept.

Oh, you haven't yet?


Are you trying to plan some time for sleep?

Yeah, I'll see how I feel when I get back to camp.

But my limit is sort of 48 hours.

I get kind of weird after that.

I'm starting to mumble my words.

Yep, I gotta change sides.

Oh yeah.

And I know what that's all about.

Most of the people that finish the Fun Run kind of treat it as sort of a lifetime achievement.

Really, we didn't even say it was a 100-mile race for several years, although that concept was there, because people couldn't even finish the Fun Run.

And once people started finishing the Fun Runs, then you say well, you know the real deal is to go 100 miles.

And the Americans just had a fallback mentality that the race was the Fun Run, the 100 was impossible.

Who was the first one?

Mark Williams.

Came from England.

He was one of the first foreign entries when we started to suddenly get people from overseas.

He finished it in 1995, so it had been going on for close to, if not at, 10 years.

Once someone finished, you knew it really could be done.

And then it was an additional six years before a second person finished it.

Each year that no one finished, that appealed to a set of people that liked to be out there at the limit.

And then people would come and they would be angry when they got to the race and ran it because it was exactly like we said it was.

That loop really took a lot out of both Jared and I.


Daddy, can you say cheese?


Do you want two more?

Do you need anything else?

Good job Aidan, good job.

Do you want to bring a shake with you?

A strawberry shake?

Mrs. Maune, he said he might take that soup or...

At least you're having fun.

Oh yeah.

No, there were parts of that, that were definitely not fun.

I felt terrible though.

I don't know, I felt really good the first few laps but this last one was rough.

Things weren't looking good.

Jared was just waiting for me.

Dad, way up high.

Daddy, daddy No, no, no.

Great job.

Course record, course record!

163 and 165, y'all have fun out there.


Tag the gate, tag the gate.

All the way!



You've got it made now.

It's all downhill from here.

Good job guys.

See y'all back in about half an hour?

Uh, yeah.


Do you know where you dropped Bev?

Yeah, on top of Stallion.

And thank you for a nice, neat, orderly pile of pages.

Three down, that's kind of cool!

Yeah it is, it's way cool.

Fun Run in the bank.

Virgin Fun Run!

We got Mountain Dew or caffeine pills?

I kind of don't want to take it because I feel like I don't need it yet.

Hey Nick, what time are you going?

Uh, in about 13 minutes.


I just need to get at least 500 to 700 calories in me.

Yeah, um.

I'll try to go with you guys, but I might not quite make it.

How about a Payday?

Oh, bomber. Yeah.

It kind of started, so I was just sort of working, had a house, was doing the whole domestic thing and had this weird sort of life-changing thing.

One year I just said, I'm going to hike the Appalachian Trail.

And I did that and I sort of got hooked on that adventurous, challenge lifestyle.

And then from there, I decided to do a few more thru-hikes.

And I went home for Christmas to visit with my family and an old high school friend was there.

We went out for a beer and he said, Yeah, I've got my first marathon next weekend!

And I kind of just sat there thinking, that's something I could probably do.

I know my dad ran a marathon years ago.

I'm going to give it a try.

The leaders, these two guys.

That's four; me is five.

If Bev's still in it, that's six.

And then Travis, that's seven.

I wonder if Tim's still in it?


Tim Englund?

He dropped at the tower.


Hey man, it's remarkable.

Good job. Thanks, man.

How are your feet holding up?

Uhm, ya know. They're okay.

Just gotta get through two more.

You ready, Nick?

Yeah, let's get the hell out of here.

I think it's going to be Nick and I, and if John wants to catch up to us You've got everything you need?


Dropped off everything you don't need.


Way to go, Alan.

You are now an independent human being.

169, good stuff.


Okay, way to go, Nick.

Go get 'em.

All right, go get 'em!

Good luck.

Thank you.

Have you started a fourth loop ever?


All right.

Have you handed off everything you need to hand off?

171, you're a free man. Go get it.



Very good!

Good luck, John.

Great job John!

Way to go, John.

We want two more.

Two more!

But we'll start with one right now.

Don't forget, you're representing an entire continent!

Go Antarctica!

No pressure, though.


Well, you got about 13.5 hours to get turned around.

No, check and mate.

You sure? You've got time.

Yeah, my knee is not going to take another one.

I wish I could.

The briars are actually a little better this year.

I know, I know.

Sorry to say that, you went a lot further than I did.

Oh, this is going to be ugly.

I guess I won't be wearing any dresses for a while.

I think most people would be better off with more pain in their lives, honestly.

I think they would, if nothing else, appreciate the pain-free times more.

But I think also there's this self-induced aspect of, you've struggled, you've overcome, you've gotten through, then you're confident and you both enjoy the rest of your life more, but also you feel like you can do things and you take on challenges that you wouldn't otherwise try, and you get to points that you wouldn't otherwise reach.

All the way to the gate!


Or 35:36:29 All right, Rob, you've got 25 minutes to start on the 100.

Do you wanna go on?

I don't think so.

Are you sure?

2012 was all about the Fun Run.

Maybe someday.

Great job.

Thank you.

Yeah, I worked super hard for this.

This is my sixth attempt.

It sounds like he wants taps.

Finally, huh?

This is an odyssey that's spanned over 15 years.

One last chance, Rob.


I far exceeded what I thought I could do.

People have their own concepts of success and failure.

A lot of them, by the time that they've been through the ordeal, really are not concerned how other people evaluate their performance.

They make their own judgments about success and failure.

Who's first?

Here Brett.



You get to decide the route only when you sign out.

Yeah, Jared!

Jared, all the way to the yellow gate.

You've got four gels, Brett.

I waited for him.


He was having trouble.

Did you get off course at all on that one?

I stayed with him.

This better not come back to haunt me.

Do you want socks?

Please change socks.

Ah screw it, I don't need the jacket.

Another banana?

Fig Newtons? Cookie?

No. I think I'm ready to go.

Eat it.

All of it. One bite, Brett.

What's this again?

That's chocolate with caffeine.

I'm following you, I got you with the bag.

Bye Brett.

You ready?

I didn't put any Endurolytes, do you need any?


Do you need another shake?


No, I'm fine.




Good luck, Brett.

Good luck, Brett.

Nice job.

Ring the bell.

It's only around lap four or lap five where it would really start to morph into a true race.

But it's so rare that you have even two people get that far that it's a rare event when it happens.

I know I would race someone who's also starting a loop five in the opposite direction and I'm sure they would as well.

Are you kind of hoping for that?

Uh, yes.


Yeah, yeah.

It would be really exciting, and I think it would lead to an overall lower time, knowing that there's someone out there.

That can only encourage you to go faster.

Who is it?

It's Alan. I didn't make it.

I was gonna say, isn't this the wrong direction?


You didn't make it?

No, I had problems on Pighead Creek.

I got all screwed up.

Oh man, you made it to Pighead?

Yeah, then who knows where after that.

You went down Pighead?


Little disappointing how it turned out.

Is that the furthest you've gone?


Good job.

Who were you with? Nick and...

I was with Nick and John.

How strong did they look?

Uh, John was looking pretty strong.

Not Nick?

Well, Nick uh...

He'll probably do pretty well.

He was kind of up and down.

Yay, Nick.


All right.

I'm disappointed in myself on that but you're...

You did almost four loops.

That puts you in pretty thin company.


Quitters Road is so long.

It was awful.

Was John Fegys with you?

Did John already come in?


He hasn't come in yet?


Way to go!


I got so lost out there.

Is there anything you want?

He wants to have 11 pages.

You going straight back out or you need a little break?

I need a little break.

I don't have time to sleep either.

No. Listen to me, I'm not saying sleep, I'm just saying you just...

Oh, my feet hurt so bad.

I mean, it hurts so bad to run.

Oh, I'm going to be running in a lot of pain.

Do you actually have any dry socks?

Oh yeah.

Because all my socks are damp.

They want to beat each other and they will race their guts out.

But as failure, for one reason or another, overtakes each one of those top guys, they become like a defacto crew of the people who are left.

And when it winnows down to that single runner that's surviving, he's got an aid crew that's like a who's who.

The amount of knowledge and experience and accomplishments in that group, helping him to go on so that someone can succeed, while if any one of them were out there with him at the same time, they'd be trying to beat him.

Your arms and legs look like a scene from Passion of the Christ.

I've never had blisters my entire life.

And you've never done four loops at the Barkley in your entire life.

So you're not going to pop them?

I'm not going to what?

Pop 'em?

Yeah, I don't know.

I don't know if I have anything to pop them with.

Does somebody have a little tiny knife or something?

Do some surgery on your feet.

It's going to pay huge dividends later.

13 hours.

I would try to poke through it so you get two little holes in it.

I'm going to let you do it.

It'll drain out better.

Good, perfect.

If you can just poke it right through.

Ouch. Hurts me to watch.

Oh, God, that hurts so bad.

What I just did or your side?

No, just, like, running.

I just need to muscle through it for 12 more hours.

There's nothing I can do about the stuff under my...

The macerated feet, no.

It's going to take probably six to 12 hours to dry out.

Uh, if these means I can run though, I'll be so happy.

John, don't let these guys stop you from going back out.

I know, I do have to get moving.

Am I okay to put a sock on now?

Travis, thanks for dealing with my feet.

I got a one-hour warranty on that.

Aside from this, are you feeling good?


All right, John, way to go.

You're the man.

This has never happened before.

Three people on loop five.

Never in history.

Never in history?

You're part of history, John!

You got everything you need?

Dropped off everything you don't need?

I got a water right there, right?

Yes, your flask is in there.

All right.


177 You're gonna do it!

Great job, John.

Bell! Ring the bell!

Keep on going, Johnny, way to go!

Don't turn around.

I told Carl, I said, Man, It's hard to believe it's already Sunday.

He said, It's Monday.

I said, It's time for me to take a nap.

You got some sleep.

It didn't make me better did it?

I wouldn't say you look rested.

So what happened while I was in slumber-land?

Wouter just came back from the tower and...

Both pages were gone.

And Brett was heading down.

So they met somewhere.

So it could be a race.

What is the record, 55 or 56?


Do you think that's going to fall?

I don't know, there's no telling.

And if it falls, who will it be?

I didn't think it would be this close.

I know.

What a year!

I always expected to see Jared around the next corner, and then the race would be over.

Then I knew he was going to win.

Where's daddy?

Let's go find Daddy.

Here he comes!

There he is, round the bend.

And he's running!

Love you!

I didn't believe I actually won until I got to the gate and did not see Jared amidst the assembled crowd.

How much sleep did you get?

One hour.

One hour, nice.

Oh God.

Let nothing go wrong here.

That's probably almost three and a half hours off the course record, I think.

Let me shake your hand, this is just unbelievable.

Yeah, I couldn't find the first book for two hours.

The first book?

Oh wow.


But that's the easy one.

Yeah, I know!


The old record is 55.

Oh, thank you Aidan, thank you.

Daddy, eat this!

Yeah? Okay.



There he is!

Right on!


I'm glad to be done with that.

Take that stuff off.

You're a bad bad man.

You're the 11th person to finish this.


You did a hell of a job.

Was it easier than you expected?


It wasn't.

That was brutal.

Simply brutal.

What was the time?

Yeah, what was the time?


Fun work.

It was fun running with you. Yeah It was quite the experience.

I would have been lost without this guy.


So thanks man, that was fun.

Y'all made an impressive team.


The camaraderie of competition.

I hear people that talk about, they well...

The competition is just too hardcore for them or they feel like it's too rough, but there's a closeness between people that you compete with.

One of my best friends in my life was a guy I competed against for three years in high school, and it was something we shared.

And they share that out here.

And especially in this situation, where the possibility of success is so low.

Is anyone else out on the fifth loop?

As soon as I got out in the middle of nowhere, when I was out on the Spectacle and kind of just, it's hot and just out there by myself and I knew everybody else in the entire race was done, and it was just me, I was the only one on the course, I started to, like, really panic.

There was this focus, in growing up, to be conservative when it comes to your future and have some good plan for retirement, and then travel and see the world and do all this fun stuff when you retire.

I was really good about that but then, uh...

Yeah, so kind of in one year I had a series of a few deaths in the family and then I was in a relationship for 10 years and that ended so it was like all this crap just all happened to me in one calendar year.

It was awful.

I was in a really bad place.

One of the deaths in this case involved was my father,

who had done just what he had told me and saved all this money for him and my mom to travel the world and he passed away one year before his retirement.

That's when I realized that you gotta live.

You've gotta live your life.

I used to, when I would go out on trails and hike and run, I never really thought about just turning things off and taking in the beauty of it.

And there would have been a day where I was just like, Oh, that's cool, and kept walking.

But now, I really try to just be like, okay stop, and realize how lucky I am to be seeing the cool things that I'm seeing.

Suck the marrow out of this because you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, man.

Like, this is amazing this world we live in.

Ughhh, I really don't want to get my feet wet.

Fegys is out there somewhere.

Yeah, didn't expect that.

He's gotta move.

He's got no room for error.

You can't write off somebody 'cuz you don't know how much they can come up with from deep down inside, but they're really up against the clock.

How much time does he have?

He's got 26 minutes.

That'll be the tightest that anyone's finished it.

25 minutes left?

He has 24 minutes left.

Good Job, John.

Way to go, John!



Touch it! Touch it!

All right, John, way to go!

Way to go!



There's a chair right behind you, John.

One more thing.

Right here.

That was easy.

Way to go John, congratulations.

Awesome, awesome.

I guess there's a formality.

Let's pray for 11.

I counted them before.

Congratulations, John.

Oh yeah.

How does it feel to be the slowest man ever to finish this race?

Great job, that's fantastic.

The whole reason for the Barkley is so that you basically crawl across the finish line.


And you are so shredded and ripped up that you couldn't have gone out for another 20 minutes, and like that is exactly my experience.

I mean, I finished with barely enough time and my feet were destroyed and I was dehydrated and I was hallucinating.

It was just every possible thing.

There's no way I could have run another two miles.

There's just no way.

I was totally at the absolute limit.

So many people told me, even before I knew I wanted to do it, just that like, you have to be super elite to finish Barkley.

And I just refused to believe that.

I was like, I think if you really want it bad enough, Joe Schmo like me can finish.

It's not going to be pretty and it's not going to be fun but it's going to be possible.

You're finisher number 13 right?


Lucky number 13.

12th person.


12th person.

Oh, 12th person, yeah, yeah, yeah.

13th finisher.

Man can only enjoy that which he acquires with hard work and toil.

The harder you work for something, the more you enjoy that.

If something is easy, how much reward is there?

I think people that go through this, they're better for it.

They're not made of better stuff than other people but they're better for what they've asked of themselves.

Put the guilty with the innocent victims.

What a year!

Something we never asked you about is the name of the Barkley, and where that came from.

It's named after Barry Barkley.

Hello, my name is Barry Barkley.

A friend of mine named a foot race after me and it's called the Barkley Marathons and I have no idea why he did it.

We didn't know we'd make him famous.

How did you decide to name the race after Barry?

Well, he'd been an invaluable help in other races we've put on and there was just something about the character of the race that I thought, it fit.

Now the name is well known all over the world.

Probably, if we had named it something different, it would not have had this kind of success.

The Barkley Marathons, it has its own ring to it.

Have you ever finished the Barkley?

No, I never came anywhere close.

So even when you said that, Oh, I could do 100 miles in that time, that was?

I was young and cocky.