There is an orienteering type annual ultra-marathon at the Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. It is organised by an old geezer named Gary Cantrell. The race has 5 x 20-mile loops and the expected finishing time for each loop is 20 hours. He places books around the park in which each competitor takes a page out of their corresponding number. They return with 14 pages for each loop. It’s an invitational event and the successful competitors receive a letter stating in the first line. I’m unfortunately informing you that you have successfully made the list for the Barkley Marathon. Welcome to your nightmare…
Since it has a 60-hour limit, only 15 runners have finished the race since 1986.
On this frosty wet Saturday morning with snow forecasted, I was tempted to write on the welcoming board at the Narrabundah Hill event. WELCOME TO YOUR NIGHTMARE!
Watching people hunched over as they departed their parked cars trying to avoid the wind and rain. I can only imagine what they were thinking. Why am I here? The course provided a range of challenges. High winds, rain, sleet and snow, the grounds were boggy, pop up creeks in every gully, long gradual climbs and ankle turning vines, the dreaded Blackberries.
Although smiles could be seen at the finishing flag, perhaps a sense of relief or perhaps a hint of enjoyment. The course layout was rock solid, it provided defined directional changes and long and short lengths. It was a masterpiece. Well Done, John Suominen! for the course setting and of course, to the 96-year-old Hermann Wehner for lasting a short time to hand out the maps. Until next time… 🙂