Gary Robbins Talks the Barkley Marathons Ahead of the Start of the Race

gary barkely 2018 3 sunset

One of the most grueling and difficult endurance events in the world is the Barkley Marathons, an incredible test of endurance held in Tennessee each year that tests the very limits of trail runners on a 100+ mile course through some of the roughest, most demanding terrain imaginable. To put things in perspective, the race is so difficult that only 15 people have ever finished in its more than 30 year history.

Last year, ultrarunner Gary Robbins came up just short of adding his name to the lest of people who have finished the Barkleys. Robbins was nearing the finish line just as the 60 hour cutoff was about to take place, but he unfortunately made a wrong turn while navigating in the final stretch and it ended up costing him valuable time. In the end, he finished just a few seconds after the clock ran out, and was given a “DNF” for his troubles. Now, he’s getting ready to go back and compete in the event once again, and Suunto has an interview with him to discuss why he’d want to punish himself once again.

In the interview, Robbins talks about what he is doing differently to train for his third attempt at the Barkley Marathons. He also talks about the ways the race punishes runners, how navigation and orienteering plays a role, how he is now more physically and mentally in shape, and who his top competition will be heading into the race. Other topics of discussion include what music will be on his playlist for the race, how he gets over the crushing disappointment of the “DNF” from last year, and a lot more.

For those who know the Barkleys race, you also probably know that there is some secrecy that surrounds the event. Race organizer Gary Cantrell doesn’t post a list of entrants, the exact time and date of the race isn’t revealed publicly, and spectators are asked to not come by. But, there are some indications that the ultra run could be taking place this weekend, so we’ll have to see if there are results posted early next week. If so, good luck to all the competitors.

And for those of us who aren’t racing, be sure to check out the amazing documentary The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young. You won’t be disappointed.

Kraig Becker