How did the Barkley Marathons start? The story behind the world’s toughest ultramarathon

March 7, 2024

Deliberately obscure, and designed to be near-impossible to finish. The Barkley Marathons is perhaps one of the most famous events that everyone knows next to nothing about. The start date is kept secret for all but the 40 runners brave enough to try and tame the Barkley beast. The route changes year on year, and is kept under wraps until the 11th hour. There’s no marketing. Certainly no social media, beyond a few obscure Twitter/X posts that hint at what’s unfolding in Frozen Head State Park each year. And while its said to be 100 miles in total, the absence of GPS or tracking means no one really knows just how long the Barkley Marathons is.

The Barkley Marathons border on the mythical in the world of trail running. And having claimed even the most experienced of trail runners as DNF victims, several times over, beating the Barkley is something that many still strive to achieve. Run 247