The Mystery of the Barkley Marathon

The race director lives under an alias.

The cost to enter is $1.60 and a license plate from your home state or country.

The course is five loops around the park, totally unmarked, mostly off trail, with a time limit of sixty hours.

There are no manned aid stations. You must carry everything you need to survive “out there” including a map and compass (no GPS allowed) to navigate the course.

There are no rescues. You must self-extract, however long it takes, and get back to camp.

There is no official race start time. The race begins when the Race Director decides to light his cigarette.

What! Few voluntary pursuits sound more strange and horrible than the Barkley marathon, if it even exists (!?) (okay, it does!), but Geoffrey Barker’s photographs of contestants before and after, with their race results (Did Not Finish and Refused To Continue being the most common), are incredible. (Also, #hotguys.)