THE BARKLEY MARATHONS
Pollen, deadlines, peak mileage weeks, brexit-depression, seed in soil season and all that "sorry its been a while" excusing jazz has hit it's end note today. I'm officially declaring myself out of the spring to-do's coma and ready to be a slave of the BM100 hashtag because Monty Don is not the only eccentric man in his late middle ages to pop up on my radar when the last rays of March hit the trails, it's also the time of the season for Lazarus Lake. I can smell Barkley Marathons in the air.
If against all odds you have not heard about The Barkley or Laz by now i recommend that you either tune into Netflix for the brilliant documentary "The Race That Eats It's Young" which follows the 2014 edition of the race or hit up youtube for Ethan Newberrys "Where Dreams Go To Die" which follows Gary Robbins Barkley Attempt in 2017. You can also read the recent interview with Laz behind this link https://www.outsideonline.com/2392166/barkely-marathons-lazarus-lake or listen to this interview from 2011 https://ultrarunnerpodcast.com/gary-cantrell-barkley-marathons-race-director/ .
Meanwhile i will jump straight into race predictions!
So 24 Barkleys, 15 finishers, all of them male, will this be the year we finally get to see a she complete all four loops? The non existing list of confirmed entrants is filling me with hope that this will be the case. We know for sure that the experienced ultra runner Maggie Guterl (https://www.instagram.com/maggatronruns/) is returning for a second shot at survival in Frozen Head state park. Last year she completed two loops but was not back in time to start a third loop. (you can read her own recap of that experience at last years race at her blog: http://www.maggatron.com/2018/04/my-first-dnf-2018-barkley-marathons.html). There's been footage of Maggie being out on the course in Tennesee with fellow Barkley veterans Jamil Coury and Amelia Boone during the winter months so everything speaks for a hunger for revenge! Above mentioned Amelia sadly has to watch the race from the sideline-camp as she sustained a serious injury in the end of last month.
Another returnee is Canada's Stephanie Case who just like Maggie completed two loops last year but was timed out before getting a chance to start a third lap. Having lived in Chamonix for a few years and completed Tor des Geants three times she definitely has enough steep endurance running experience to tackle the relentless climbs of the course and as with Guterl the experience from last year should give her a massive advantage.
Fellow Canadian Morgan Mckay (https://twitter.com/mckay1morgan) does not have a deep record of ultra trail racing but is a big name on the OCR scene. She also has the current World record of running the fastest 10 k while carrying 100 pounds and has competed in 60 hour Spartan Death races. If she's got her navigation on track or find a veteran to tag onto she could well be a contender to finish.
I've saved the in my opinion most interesting contender for a first female finish,to the last. It has this week been announced that the legendary NICKY SPINKS is out on location to tackle Barkley 2019. This Double Ramsay Round bad ass definitely has enough rugged race experience under her belt and navigation should not be a problem. I CAN NOT WAIT to see how she get on. Remember you heard it here first folks, it's the year of the Spinks!
Read more about Nicky and her preparations here;
As usual no one knows exactly when this years race will be starting but everything speaks for it being this weekend so keep your ears out for the sound of Laz blowing his conch.
There is unsurprisingly no tracking for the race but if you have an obsolete twitter account to your name this is the time of the year to resurrect it. See you on the #bm100 feed!