$1.60, A License Plate From Your Home State, And An Essay

This documentary, The Barkley Marathons, on the most bizarre race in the US is very good. To sign up you have to give the race organizer with that $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and an essay about why you should be allowed to join the race. That essay helps the organizer pick one person he is sure will lose. The whole situation just keeps getting stranger and more brutally demanding of the people who compete in this rally for over a hundred miles through dense woods as they climb the equivalent of Mt. Everest’s elevation twice. Highly recommended. It’s streaming on Netflix right now, or you can buy it through a bunch of other services.

George Pendle has a fantastic article about it for Esquire:

The race can begin any time between midnight and noon on the closest Saturday to April Fools’ Day, always exactly one hour after a conch is blown. Runners are not given a map of the course, which is unmarked and largely off-trail, until the afternoon before. They must rely on compasses and the race’s obscure official directions to find their way. GPS is forbidden.

Runners must locate thirteen books in each loop and tear out a page corresponding to their race number. This year’s batch includes Unravelled, Lost and Found, and There Is Nothing Wrong With You: Going Beyond Self-Hate. After each loop, the pages are counted and each runner is given a new number. There are no aid stations, just two unmanned water drops that are often frozen solid. Those unable to finish are serenaded by the Barkley’s official bugler playing a discordant rendition of “Taps.”

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian exiled to Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I'm @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to zjs AT zacharyjackslater dot com More here.

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