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Barkley Marathons Finisher John Kelly Provides Perception Into Cryptic Entry Course of And Essay

Within the realm of ultramarathons, few races command as a lot respect and fascination because the Barkley Marathons. With its daunting terrain, unpredictable climate, and stringent entry course of, securing a spot on this legendary occasion is akin to unlocking a thriller wrapped in an enigma. 

For these courageous sufficient to aim incomes one in every of solely 40 annual spots, navigating the labyrinthine path to entry is the primary take a look at of endurance on a journey fraught with challenges. 

The Barkley Marathons’ entry course of is as mysterious and difficult because the race itself. 

Barkley Marathons Finisher John Kelly Gives Insight Into Cryptic Entry Process And Essay 1
Picture Credit score: Michael Doyle

Not like standard races the place signing up is an easy click on away, the Barkley calls for a much more intricate strategy. Potential entrants should first decipher the cryptic directions laid out by the race organizers, which embrace a sequence of unconventional duties and necessities. 

From essays detailing their motivation and readiness to tackle the Barkley problem to demonstrating a deep understanding of the occasion’s ethos, candidates should show themselves worthy of toeing the beginning line.

John Kelly, a seasoned Barkley veteran, sheds gentle on the complexities of the choice course of, emphasizing its exclusivity and the meticulous issues concerned. 

“It isn’t mathematically potential for a race that hundreds need to enter and solely 40 per 12 months get to take part in to be something however ‘unique,’” says Kelly. 

Barkley Marathons Finisher John Kelly Gives Insight Into Cryptic Entry Process And Essay 2
Picture Credit score: Michael Doyle

Certainly, with hundreds of hopefuls vying for a handful of slots, the competitors is fierce, and each facet of an applicant’s profile is scrutinized.

Central to the appliance course of is the submission of a compelling essay. On this essay, candidates should articulate their motivations, experiences, and readiness to tackle the Barkley problem. 

“The aim of the essay is basically for somebody to spotlight how they meet the opposite standards above, however having a little bit of wit and demonstrating the precise mindset to succeed at Barkley also can assist,” he explains.

In wilderness is the preservation of the world Henry David Thoreau

Kelly displays on his personal utility essay, highlighting the significance of authenticity and conveying a real connection to the occasion. 

“I cringe a bit now studying my first utility essay… Studying this almost a decade later, there are undoubtedly issues I’d say in a different way or by no means. ‘I haven’t accomplished a 100-miler but, however I ran a 2:49 marathon this 12 months. However I haven’t modified a single phrase.”

However assembly the standards is only the start. 

For individuals who don’t safe a right away spot, hope lies within the weight record. Lazarus Lake, the enigmatic race director, manages this record with an iron hand, balancing the necessity for veteran presence with alternatives for newcomers. 

“In case you ever get on the burden record, you will be assured you’re going to get in… ultimately… when you proceed to use,” assures Carl & Laz, the voices behind the Barkley.

Together with a well-written essay, the appliance course of additionally includes paying the steep entry price of $1.60 (as a result of, as the web site states, “in case it isn’t apparent, we’re on this for the cash”), the infamous license plate, which might be strung up on the camp, and often, some object that Laz desires that 12 months (earlier years have seen socks and shirts).

Barkley Marathons Finisher John Kelly Gives Insight Into Cryptic Entry Process And Essay 3
Picture Credit score: Michael Doyle

Determining the place to ship your utility is one other feat as properly.

The knowledge isn’t simply accessible, and for good motive. Those that aren’t keen to go the additional mile to search out out the place to ship their utility in all probability aren’t the folks with sufficient motivation to make it by means of the race.

In the end, navigating the Barkley Marathons entry course of is a take a look at of perseverance and willpower. It’s a journey that begins lengthy earlier than the race itself and requires not solely bodily preparedness but in addition strategic planning and next-level motivation. 

For individuals who dare to dream of conquering the Barkley, the street to the beginning line is fraught with challenges—however for individuals who succeed, the rewards are immeasurable.

Keen on studying John Kelly’s first utility essay? You could find it beneath.

Barkley Marathons Finisher John Kelly Gives Insight Into Cryptic Entry Process And Essay 4
Picture Credit score: Michael Doyle

Why I needs to be allowed to run The Barkley Marathons by John Kelly

I grew up in Joyner, TN simply throughout Freeway 62 from the CCC street my grandpa helped construct that goes up in the direction of Chimney High. I lived on Kelly Dr proper subsequent to the place Kelly Creek splits off of Beech Fork on the base of Kelly Mountain (they spelled the mountain’s title flawed on the maps, however it sits beneath Indian Knob and throughout Beech Fork from Chimney High). My household has been on that very same piece of land for 200 years. There are at the moment plans to make the unique Kelly homestead a welcome heart for Frozen Head ( The jail that impressed the Barkley employed lots of my members of the family. My dad, who for a time labored at one of many strip pits, commonly performed softball simply exterior the Brushy fence.

I spent a big a part of my childhood exploring these mountains, unknowingly coaching for the Barkley. Ultimately, although, I ran off from my household’s longstanding house to get a Ph.D. like many previous profitable Barkley runners (mine is in electrical engineering). Within the pursuit of that diploma I went days with out sleep on a number of events, which I now know was additionally coaching for the Barkley. I now discover myself quickly displaced to the DC space, however Chimney High will all the time be house candy house to me (as a TN resident your self, I belief you’ll get the lyrical reference).

I’m additionally no slouch of an endurance athlete and mountaineer. I haven’t accomplished a 100-miler but, however I ran a 2:49 marathon this 12 months. I’ve thru-hiked the 230 mile John Muir Path within the excessive Sierra, the place I used to be given the path title “Navigator,” and I’ve backpacked many shorter journeys with 35+ mile days in the identical space. A few 12 months in the past I used to be out solo within the excessive Sierra and misplaced my compass simply earlier than an surprising snow storm all of a sudden hit. I used to be 40 miles from the closest street or individual (I hadn’t seen human footprints within the snow for two days). I managed to get out of there inside a day earlier than I acquired buried by the storm, which required many hours of climbing at night time.

I’m about as cussed and decided as they arrive. After I ran my first marathon my schedule wouldn’t permit me to coach greater than 10-15 miles whole per week. As you possibly can guess, each muscle in my physique fully locked up at round mile 18, however I drug myself these painful remaining 8 miles throughout the end line. If given a shot on the Barkley I’ll completely not stop till I both end that fifth loop or there’s not a single second left on the clock.* The distinction with my first marathon is that I might be ready, or at the very least as ready as any first-timer can hope to be.

Clint McDougal
Clint McDougal
Get ready to meet Clint McDougal, the running sensation who outruns laughter and leaves you breathless with his witty charm. Join the hilarious journey of a wise runner extraordinaire!


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