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100 Miles of Hell: The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons is a 100 mile long run/hike up hills, through brambles, and even into a tunnel under a prison, searching for hidden checkpoints along the way. With unmarked trails and only a clue sheet and compass (no gps allowed) entrants have to navigate some of the toughest terrain in Tennessee in order to complete the five loops in under 60 hours.

This legendary event annually draws about 40 people to Frozen Head State Park to attempt to finish the 60,000 ft vertical course in what has come to be known as the most brutal race on earth. Most fail. Only 14 have finished the race since it began in 1986.

Three runners finished the fifth loop in 2012 with a another two in 2013, one in 2014 and none in 2015. Two runner have completed the 5 loops twice: Brett Maune (2011, 2012), Jared Campbell (2012, 2014.)

A documentary film, The Barkley Marathons (89 min), screened at Hot Docs in Toronto in 2015 and is currently featured on Netflix and covers the 2012 race. The film is funny, sad, inspirational and gut-wrenching at times but a tribute to the determination that can be found in the human spirit that overcomes pain. Highly recommended.

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