Ten Tips for Finishing the Barkley Ultramarathon

1. DON'T QUIT - This seems simplistic, but my experience is that quitting is many times a mental decision rather than a physical necessity.

2. Train as much as possible on steep mountain trails. (climbing and descending)

3. On the 1st loop follow someone of similar ability, who also knows the course.

4, Have or develop a mental picture of the entire loop.

5. Read and study Gary's description of where the books are. The instructions are really very detailed and accurate.

6. Be healthy AND fit. You can't do it if you are just fit or just healthy.

7. Be mentally prepared to stay out there for 35-40 hours for the fun run. I don't know how you can mentally prepare for the 55-60 hours the entire 100 miles would take.

8. Be very patient, you will probably never run a slower pace (minutes per mile) in a race.

9. If you don't have a great sense of direction you need to develop one before the race. You can't always rely on someone else to lead you around the course. The hardest race in the world doesn't allow PACERS for safety or any other reason.

10. Number 10 is the same as Number 1 - DON'T QUIT! You can't believe how difficult it is to start each loop when you know what pain and torture lies ahead. Sitting by the fire and listening to Gary's stories sounds better than self-mutilation.

I'm sure others have a lot of tips as well. How about it Mark Williams, Fred Pilon, Craig Wilson, and others? I've been fortunate enough to finish 3 out of 5 starts. The two times I didn't finish, I was fit but not healthy. I wish every ultrarunner could do one loop at Barkley. You would never forget it. Happy running!

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