- For the third time
in a row, there were no finishers at the Barkley Marathons.
- Sixteen runners completed the first loop before the
time cutoff, and just two runners, Jared Campbell and
Luke Nelson, set off to attempt a third loop (which they
didn’t finish in time).
- Only 15 runners have ever finished the race since it
began in 1986. The most recent was John Kelly in 2017.
The course at the Barkley
Marathons has won again.
In the first race in almost
two years (the 2020 race was canceled because of the pandemic)
there were no finishers at the ultra endurance event in
Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tennessee. Two participants—three-time
Barkley finisher Jared Campbell and Tor des Geants finisher
Luke Nelson—completed three loops of the Barkley
course in 40 hours for a Fun Run, but no one started a
This year’s Barkley
Marathons looked slightly different than previous editions.
There were few international competitors due to pandemic-related
travel restrictions, and because of this, a smaller field
of runners (usually 40 runners line up), almost entirely
Americans, took on the beast. Additionally, runners were
required to get COVID-19 tests ahead of arrival, among
other safety protocols.
A strong contingent of Barkley
veterans lined up at the start, including Big’s
Backyard champion Maggie Guterl, two-time Barkley Fall
Classic winner Liz Canty, the only three-time Barkley
finisher Jared Campbell, and multi-time Barkley attempter
Jamil Coury. There was also a lot of excitement around
Barkley virgins (first-timers) Courtney Dauwalter, Western
States and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc champion; and Luke
Nelson, Tor des Geants finisher. Guterl, Canty, and Dauwalter
were attempting to become the first woman to finish the
The race started midweek,
in order to deter spectators. Founder Gary “Lazarus
Lake” Cantrell blew the conch at 2:03 a.m. ET on
Thursday, March 18, and runners set off on the first loop
an hour later, when Cantrell lit his cigarette. Runners
dealt with rainy and foggy conditions throughout the entire