The Shocking Truth about the Barkley Marathons

Fear. All runners have it.

We fear injury. We fear weakness. Mostly, we fear failure. And no one is immune.

Since I signed on as a race ambassador for the 2012 Amica Marathon, I’ve been jumpy at even the first sign of foot pain. I’m terrified that my plantar fascia will force me into a DNF.

This week I spoke with Annika Iltis and Tim Kane, co-directors of a new documentary about the Barkley Marathons, about “the race that eats its young”.

Friends, we don’t know what real fear is.

The Barkley Marathons is considered to be the single hardest trail race on the planet. Runners are given sixty hours (as in six-zero) to run the 100 mile race. In twenty-five years, only thirteen runners have finished.

In this video interview, Annika and Tim divulge all the gory details of this brutal race.

We discuss:
  • What makes this race so bad that participants receive a condolence letter confirming their entry?
  • Maps, compasses, and getting hopelessly lost in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.
  • No, I’m serious. One runner really didn’t come back for over 30 hours, and no one went looking.
  • What draws some of these runners to such a brutal race? And why do so many of them keep coming back?
  • What compelled two non-runners to make a film about the hardest trail run on Earth?

One final note before the interview.

The only way to get ahold of the completed film is through their Kickstarter page. So watch this video, then go to the Barkley Movie Kickstarter page and get yourself a copy of the film. Trust me, you want this (even if just to be thankful it’s not you).


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  6 Responses to The Shocking Truth about the Barkley Marathons
  1. Great interview. Thanks for doing it and helping promote the documentary film. The Barkley Marathons is a worthy project and Laz deserves the credit for creating and maintaining a “One of a Kind” ultra. Good to see the support for him and for the event. Frozen Head is a marvelous place and I am pleased to see it featured in the film.

    • Tim Woodbury

      Thanks, Ray. It was great to chat with Annika and Tim about the race, and the project. I made a point to contribute so I don’t miss this film.

      With so many races being same-old, same-old, it’s exciting to hear about such a unique race with a long history. Are you among the brave who have run the Marathons before, Ray?

  2. Great interview! When I first read about the Barkley Marathons I couldn’t believe it. It really sounds like one of the most brutal things you could ever do to yourself! sounds fun…

    It is pretty wild that so many people finished this past year. I love to see the movie!

    • Tim Woodbury

      Thanks, Doug! Should I expect to see your name among the finishers next year?

  3. What a crazy race. I can’t imagine what it takes to complete something like that. Loved the video interview. Looking forward to following your journey to Amica!

    • Tim Woodbury

      Thanks, Amy! Luckily, Amica should be far more tame than Barkley. I’m not nearly tough enough for that one.

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