Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Colonoscopy Gone Wrong"

For some folks, marathons -- or even ultramarathons -- aren't enough. They crave something more EXTREME. (As if the risk of incontinence and death isn’t sufficiently hardcore.)
Sure, there’s Tough Mudder, but we know it ain't all that.

And yes, we’ve discussed the Death Race before, too. That’s a whole ‘nother level of extreme. Still, each Death Race is capped at 24 hours, and participants are always within sight of an aid station.

But the Barkley Marathons? They’re just fucking insane.

Held once each year, the Barkley “Marathon” is actually a multi-day, 100+ mile footrace through the backwoods wilderness of Frozen Head Mountain in Tennessee. Through 2010, only nine people had completed the race under the 60-hour cutoff. The Barkley course record: 55 hours and 42 minutes. (Compare that with the course record for the famous 100-mile Western States Endurance Run, which is just over 15 hours.)

The Barkley Marathons have been described as “Brutal. Terrifying. Inhuman.” Also: “A colonoscopy gone wrong.” (Sounds a good deal worse than "Fight Gone Bad," right?)

What makes it so bad? No trail, for one. A cumulative elevation gain that’s nearly twice the height of Everest. Native flora called saw briars that can turn a man’s legs to raw meat in meters. The tough hills have names like Rat Jaw, Little Hell, Big Hell, Testicle Spectacle—this last so-called because it inspires most runners to make the sign of the cross (crotch to eyeglasses, shoulder to shoulder)—not to mention Stallion Mountain, Bird Mountain, Coffin Springs, Zip Line, and an uphill stretch, new this year, known simply as “the Bad Thing.”
Most folks don’t make it very far into the race. But if you quit, you face a “three-to-four-hour commute back into camp -- longer at night, especially if you get lost. Which effectively means that the act of ceasing to compete in the Barkley race is comparable to running an entire marathon.”

Read all about the Barkley Marathons here. Me? I stopped reading once I saw the words “Testicle Spectacle.”