|Big girl panties so big that I am wearing suspenders to hold them up|
I'm not exactly sure where to begin this story. I guess with explaining a little bit about the Barkley Marathons. The Barkley Marathons is a race that goes through Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. Supposedly the loop are about 20 miles with about 11,000 vertical gain per loop. The Barkley was begun in 1986 by Gary Cantrell also known as lazarus lake. The field is limited to 35 or so participants who, in recent years, have had to apply and send in an essay. The application is comprised of questions like, "How many loops do you think you'll complete?" (ANSWER: This is the Barkley, no one knows what the results will be) and "How many Frenchmen does it take to screw in a light bulb?" (ANSWER: you cannot fit frenchmen in a light bulb).
The race is quirky, the start begins one hour after the conch shell is blown when laz lights a cigarette. The terrain difficult with some climbs and descents of 1,500 vertical feet in less than a mile. No aid, no pacers, wild hogs, ticks and no trail markings. Check points consist of finding 10 or so hidden books and tearing out the page that corresponds to your race number. All pages from each check point must be presented when you get to the end of the loop which is the yellow gate at the campground.
My friend Lora applied and was accepted to this race in 2009. I was jealous. I wanted to do it too.
Fast forward to the end of 2010. I applied at the appointed time. People accepted to the race do not have their names disclosed unless they do it themselves. I was #9 on the wait list at the beginning of January. I was accepted to the race and told to put my big girl panties on a week or so ago. I am going, big girl panties on. I am doing it. There's no hope that I will complete the 100 miler or even the Fun Run of 60 miles. None. I will be lucky to complete one loop despite sending two long weekends out there running on the trails. Often even accomplished runners only complete one loop. I hope to complete one loop without crying. Only 10 men have finished the 100 mile race since 1986. I think that the statistics of the winners are that they are overwhelmingly engineers with doctoral degrees and speed records on the long trails (Pacific Crest, John Muir). I don't belong in this race but I'm very excited to be a part of it. I just hope I don't embarrass myself too badly.
Now I am reviewing maps (they will not help much!), organizing gear, packing camping things for the extended camping trip and keeping my fingers crossed. I will post pictures from my weekends at Frozen Head in another post. As far as Addison's stuff goes, I am completely and utterly on my own.
It's a huge honor to be allowed to participate in this race and become part of the Barkley lore. It's going to be amazing to toe the line with so many accomplished ultra runners from the US and other countries, hear their stories and chat.
For more information about The Barkley:
- Frozen Ed Furtaw's book Tales From Out There The Barkley Marathons, The World's Toughest Trail Race An excellent book with lots of history and information
There's also a movie being made about the Barkley this year. Tim and Annika are trying to obtain funding via Kickstarter. Check out their video!