The Barkley Marathons: The race that eats its young…

In a small village in Tennessee, a very interesting and challenging race is organised. It is considered to be the toughest race in the world and it’s named the Barkley Marathons. It is held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee. Read on to find out why this race is the toughest but the coolest…



He is the awesome guy who invented the race with its co-founder Raw Dog. Lazarus is the heart and soul of the race. The Sadist who created the world toughest race was a former runner and an awesome athlete during his young days. A total badass.

How to apply…

The first rule of the Barkley Marathon is that you don’t talk about the Barkley Marathon. It is the only race where you have to write an exam to participate. After you get selected you receive a letter of condolence stating “we are sorry to inform that you have been selected for the Barkley marathon“. To apply you have to pay a fee of $1.60. The fee is for Lazarus retirement plan. With little information on the internet, it’s really hard to participate but every more than 100 applications are received and only 40 runners are selected.

One more unique tradition of the race is the entry fee for the race. It varies according to the number of times you’re participating. The veteran runners have to bring a vehicle number plate from their home state or home country and then in succeeding years, it is according to Lazarus needs. For years he charged a white shirt and when he collected a lot of shirts, he started collecting socks and now he is collecting flannel shirts. This makes the Barkley unique and cool.

Number plates of the runners(courtesy: Netflix)

The Race Track

The Berkley has no marked course!! Every year a master map is introduced before the race and the runners have to mark their route with the map of the area. During the race, you cannot use GPS. Only instruments allowed is a compass and a map. That what makes the race even more challenging.

It is a closed loop race that begins and end at a yellow gate. The full race consists of 5 loops, meaning you have to do run the whole course 5 times to complete the race within a time period of 60 hours. 1 loop is 20 miles so in total, a runner has to complete 100 miles…

Each loop requires 12,000 feet of climb and 12,000 feet of descending which is equivalent to climbing and descending Mount EverestTWICE!! Runners can rest after completing a loop or keep running.


During the starting of each loop, the runners are given a number. Throughout the trail, many books are placed. Those are the checkpoints, pretty old school…the runner has to tear out the page corresponding to their number. After completing a loop the number of pages is counted.


Located in the race track is a famous and inescapable prison named the Bushy Mountain Prison. It is a maximum security prison. James Earl Ray, who was convicted of assassinating Martin Luther King Jr was held there. James along with 6 other convicts escaped the prison and they used the same route to escape. They were caught after 40 hr of manhunt but Lazarus thought he could have run more. Rest is history…

Starting ceremony and Taps

There is no fixed starting time. 1 hour before the starting a conch is blown, It means runners have 1 hour to get ready. The lighting of a cigarette means that the race has started.

Many people quit before 5 laps and return to base. To commemorate the end of a runners race “Taps” is played on the bugle.

Playing taps (courtesy:Netflix)

Barkley Marathon is for people trying to do the most challenging thing in their life. It gives people a chance to test themselves and bring out the best in themselves. Till now 13 people have completed the marathon with 0 completion in 2018.

If you liked the article please leave a comment and start training if you want to compete in the worlds toughest race. To read more interesting stuff click here.

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