A tale I heard
Ultrarunner and best-selling author David Clark chatting on the Steve Austin Show about the next race he is taking part in:
"The Barkley Marathon is, man, I don’t even know how to describe it. This race is, um, it’s had 15 finishers in 30 years. Some people don’t even really consider it a race because it’s designed to fail. I mean, the guy who set up the race, he’s a very interesting character, a very colourful personality, his name is, well, he goes by the name Lazarus Lake. That’s not his real name. But he set it up because he wanted to figure out what would be just on the outside of possibility for a human to do. Like, the best human to do.
It even says, when you get in this race you get a condolences letter, you don’t get a congratulation, you get a condolence. Like: ‘We’re sorry to inform you that you’ve been selected to run the Barkley Marathon’. And it even says in it: ‘It can be done, but not by you. Drop out now, save yourself the embarrassment, save yourself the humiliation.’ But it’s a five-looped race in the Tennessee mountains. It’s not marked, so you get a map and a compass, and you have to search through the woods finding these books that are hidden out there. It’s got 60,000 feet of vertical gain and is over 100 miles long and it’s just a total mind-job. People leave that place never the same…
There’s no website to apply for the race, it’s all underground. It took me a couple of years to figure out how to apply for the race. Once you get in, they tell you the weekend the race is going to be on, they tell you where it’s going to be, and you show up and you camp. And then Laz comes out at some point, you don’t know when, blows a conch shell and that means the race starts in one hour. So that could be 2 o’clock in the morning, raining, you gotta get ready. Get up, get your gear on, get ready to go. And then he lights a cigarette at one hour past the conch shell blast and everyone goes. It’s a dollar 47 to do the race, that’s how much he charges and you have to bring a licence plate from your home state..."