One of my favorite documentaries on running in the Barkley Marathons. If you have never seen it, let me provide you a teaser in by sharing how the race start works. At some point during a 24-hour period, the race director will blow a bugle horn. That is the runners signal that they have one hour to get to the starting line. The horn could blow at 3am, 11am, 5pm, or really whenever he feels like it. Until that bugle goes, the runners (and their support teams) wait around camp, stare at orientation maps, and pack or repack bags to prepare for the adventure ahead.
The course is five loops, and approximately 100 miles, through the distance changes every year based on how the course has been laid out and how participants find their way from one check-in to the next. Very few participants have completed the course (it was less than ten at the time of the documentary) and those who do are covered in mud, scratches, and dried blood at the end.
The creators of this race are the same ones behind a virtual race this summer that has 19,000 participants (including yours truly) running across Tennessee. The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (#GVRAT) began May 1 and participants must complete the distance by August 31st to earn a medal (and avoid a DNF). Some runners will even attempt the return course in that same time period for 2,000K in less than four months (the distance is 1,270 miles if you are of the non-metric perspective).
If participants signed up the first day of the race, they have to complete an average of five miles each day to reach the finish line on time. So, while it is not a streak, skipping a day has quick consequences. And for anyone who registered after May 1, the day they register is the first day they can add miles (so if you are feeling extra wild and crazy, or just stir crazy…).
And Laz, one of the race directors offers a great clarification if you are wondering about which miles count:
This should only be the distances you cover when you actually go out to run (or walk… I will be walking all of mine)… and yes, treadmill miles will count as well… and no, elliptical machines do not count. I know some people go thru the day bristling with more electronic devices than a spy plane, counting up every step they take from getting out of bed to retiring for the night… along with a few steps for driving across railroad tracks, jiggling their leg while watching TV, or any other activity that causes one of their devices to register movement. Those are not really fair… What should be added to the daily tally are only the miles you cover while actually doing your daily walk or run, on purpose to cover some ground.
Please; no Perry Mason loophole searching… You know the intent of the rule, and that is the rule.
As one of the 19,000 participants in this race, this will be running goal of my summer and my year. And hopefully not my first DNF. See you in August!