The National – Running Wild

They say save the best for last. There have been a lot of good articles so I’m not sure if this is best, but it’s definitely great and the last 2017 Barkley article to my knowledge.

For the record, though, I’ve never focused training on Barkley year-round. I haven’t even focused training on running year round. I’ve focused on Barkley for 6 month chunks, which is something I believe every finisher has done at a minimum.

Running Wild

On June 11, 1977, when James Earl Ray escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary and was at large amid Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, Gov. Ray Blanton preached calm. In the prison’s 81 years of operation, he told The Washington Post, no one had ever permanently escaped.

 

Esquire Magazine – The Masochist’s Marathon

This is a long-awaited feature on the 2017 Barkley Marathons in Esquire. The author, George Pendle, was a pleasure to speak with and is an extremely nice guy who I know wanted to to portray the race as accurately as possible. Overall, it’s a great article. With today’s editing and sensationalized headlines, though, it should be no surprise what appears on the first page and the title that was chosen.

“Masochist’s Marathon” implies pleasure in the pain itself. The pleasure is in overcoming the obstacles that cause the pain. Despite an impressive amount of fact-checking, I believe the article also misquotes me just a bit (I don’t think I’ve said “daddy” since I was 3) to further cast me as the local yokel dark horse who somehow managed to finish (no one who knew anything about the race considered me a dark horse). But that doesn’t really matter, and the article is a very entertaining read. To paraphrase (not quote) laz, the world at large can never truly know what it’s like out there, and those that do (including myself) know what we did and why we did it.

This Is the Most Hellish Ultramarathon in the World

The world’s top ultrarunners fight to compete in the Barkley Marathons, an ever-shifting race designed by a madman to break their spirits through 100 miles of hellish Appalachian mountains. So far, only 14 people have completed it. A man is begging on the side of a Tennessee mountain.

 

Failing with Purpose

Failing with Purpose

Note: This post generated some great discussion, which led to The Goldilocks Difficulty as a follow-up post.

Background

This isn’t a Western States post, but it’s one that it inspired. This also steals almost entirely from a talk I gave a couple of months back for my high school’s honors night (if you really want to see the video, it’s at the bottom). I hadn’t planned on posting it, but with some of the discussion I’ve seen this week I felt like I should.

Read more

Blue Ridge Outdoors – Heartbreak at the Barkley Marathons

A nice little feature done by Josh Patton, one of the talented photographers who was at Barkley.

Heartbreak at Barkley Marathon

The Barkley Marathon starts with the race director blowing on a conch shell and lighting a cigarette, and it ends with either the Easy Button or Taps. It brags that it has a near complete failure rate. In its three decades of existence, only 15 runners have been able to defeat the clock, the mountains, and the briars.

 

Endurance News – John Kelly becomes the 15th finisher at the Barkley Marathons

A feature in Hammer Nutrition’s Endurance News magazine on the 2017 Barkley Marathons, obviously with a bit more info on some of the fuel I used during the race.

John Kelly becomes the 15th finisher at the Barkley Marathons!

BY ENDURANCE NEWS STAFF On April 1st, 2017, Hammer Nutrition sponsored athlete John Kelly left the start line on his third attempt at the 100 plus mile, 60 hour ultramarathon trail race, the Barkley Marathons. On April 3rd, at 59:30 in with just 30 minutes to spare, Kelly became the race’s 15th Finisher since 1986.

 

2017 Barkley Strategy, Gear, & Nutrition

2017 Barkley Strategy, Gear, & Nutrition

I was done with Barkley posts, but this is one that I told quite a few people I would make and hopefully it will answer a number of the questions I’ve received. After this, though, I’m done for real. If you’d like to revisit anything else related to the 2017 Barkley you can find it at the Barkley Archive.

This post is meant to give a small glimpse into my Barkley strategy, gear, and nutrition choices this year. Parts of this might seem like plugs for my partners, but there’s a reason I work with these companies. They make great products that I’ve found are the best for me. If they weren’t, then I’d work with someone else and you’d see them here instead.

Read more

POD – John Kelly, Exercise Practice and the legend of the Barkley Marathons

This podcast was pretty unique amongst the post-Barkley interviews, and definitely the most relaxed one I did. It was a lot of fun to touch on some things that I hadn’t really talked about before.

POD 064 Interview with Barkley Marathon Finisher John Kelly

In this episode, Craig and Jeremy chat with Barkley Marathon finisher John Kelly. The Barkley Marathon started back in 1995. This ultramarathon trail race held in Tennessee annually is brutal as it must be completed within the 60 hour time limit.

2017 Barkley Crew Report from Joe Kelly

2017 Barkley Crew Report from Joe Kelly

My cousin Joe has been a tremendous support over the course of my 3 years running Barkley. After this year, he wrote his own report and I thought I’d share a perspective of the race from someone there crewing and spectating. The crew put in an enormous amount of work themselves to be out there, take care of everything I need between loops, get back and forth between the camp and the fire tower, and to wait, wait, and wait around some more in the same weather conditions the runners have to deal with. I added the photos, but the words are Joe’s. Thank you again to friends, family, and the incredible work of Josh Patton Designs and Howie Stern Photography for the photos.

Read more

Slate’s Hang Up and Listen – A Barkley Marathons follow-up

That time when two people in DC disagreed but then actually discussed like civilized human beings. Not all Barkley views are rainbows & unicorns, but enjoyed the chat! The Barkley portion starts at 34:52. The original segment in question was on the April 17 episode at 58:25.

Is Nike’s Upcoming Attempt to Break the Two-Hour Marathon a Marketing Gimmick?

Slate ‘s sports podcast on the NBA playoffs, breaking the two-hour marathon, and a Barkley Marathons follow-up. Listen to Hang Up and Listen with Stefan Fatsis and Greg Howard by clicking the arrow on the audio player below: In this week’s episode of ‘s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen, Stefan Fatsis and special guest Greg Howard of the New York Times are joined by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz to talk about a slew of storylines in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Southeastern Trail Runner – John Kelly and the Barkley Marathons

Southeastern Trail Runner was a great place for a guy from the southeast to chat about a race from there as well.

Southeastern Trail Runner Podcast #18: John Kelly and the Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons are infamous in trail running lore and this year’s sole (and 15th total) finisher John Kelly joins Clinton and Shannon to recount his grueling weekend.

Pace the Nation – Charles Barkley (John Kelly)

I went to a road running store in my cycling kit to talk ultras. Maybe we can all get along.

Episode 102 – Charles Barkley (John Kelly) | Pacers Running

We are joined by local runner John Kelly (@RndmForestRunnr) who just became the 15th person to ever finish the Barkley Marathons. John talks about the event and its history, and gives us a recap of his race. We also talk about his support crew, how he finds time to train for ultras and triathlons, google, …

SportsCenter Segment on the 2017 Barkley Marathons

I gave up dreams of being on SportsCenter about 20 years ago, and those dreams had me as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers. It was an awesome, fun experience getting to do this, and even the rundown they had on the side was perfect. LeBron’s birthday is shortly after mine so I get an annual reminder that I’m older than him. But here, he had to wait. 🙂

This was also the first time in my life I’d ever worn makeup. I figured I should make the best of it so Jessi and I went out on a date after it was recorded. I certainly looked better than a few days earlier at least.

The flag they showed next to my name during the clip was MD, but if you look closely that’s a TN flag t-shirt I have on.

Watch on Vimeo

Bad Boy Running – John Kelly on finishing the Barkley Marathons

This one was a bit different, and I wouldn’t have it any other way from our friends in the UK! It’s awesome to see so much support & interest there.

The Bad Boy Running Podcast: Ep50 – SPECIAL – John Kelly on finishing Barkley Marathons

In this BBR Special Jody and David talk to John Kelly, endurance athlete and the only finisher at this year’s Barkley Marathons. John reveals his journey from not running to competing at Barkley three times until he finally achieved his goal of finishing, how he trains for Barkley and the mind games you go through when you’re out on the course.

RTBF – Immersion dans la “Barkley”, course à pieds la plus dure du monde

I have no idea what they’re saying, but this has some beautiful footage of the 2017 Barkley Marathons and the course. I admit that the drone annoyed me at one point, but I think that point was in getting the Rat Jaw shot that shows at about 7 minutes in, which is amazing. I felt like I was in the Game of Thrones intro.

Between this and multiple recent conversations through Google Translate I think I need to learn French!

Immersion dans la “Barkley”, course à pieds la plus dure du monde – Le Grand Format – 16/04/2017

(du 16/04/2017)

iRunFar – The White Whale of Tennessee: John Kelly’s 2017 Barkley Marathons Report

My own full race report, hosted at iRunFar.

The White Whale of Tennessee: John Kelly’s 2017 Barkley Marathons Report

Editor’s Note: On Monday, April 3, John Kelly became the Barkley Marathons’s 15th finisher when he completed the five-loop race in 59 hours, 30 minutes, and 53 seconds. Here is his report.] Call me Ishmael. No, actually don’t do that. This isn’t a story about my insane captain’s obsessive and ill-fated pursuit of a white whale.

Babbittville Radio – John Kelly

It was great to chat Barkley and for a bit of a change a little triathlon with Ironman legend Bob Babbitt on Babbittville Radio.

John Kelly – Babbittville

John Kelly ran his first marathon in 2013 at the Marine Corps Marathon, blew up, and still ran 3:38. Just recently he won the infamous Barkley Marathons, which this year was approximately 130 miles long with about 68,000 feet of ups and downs. John’s story of falling asleep during the last of the five laps…

UltraRunning Magazine – Quick & Dirty: John Kelly, the Fifteenth-Ever Barkley Marathons Finisher

It was great to talk with Matt Flaherty not only about this year’s Barkley but some of the previous ones and what led me down that path.

Quick & Dirty: John Kelly, the Fifteenth-Ever Barkley Marathons Finisher

For this edition of Quick & Dirty, I chatted with John Kelly, the fifteenth ever finisher of the Barkley Marathons. To match the massive undertaking that is a Barkley finish, this chat is a bit longer than typical for the column, but Kelly’s approach and insight are fascinating.

Washington Post – With only one finisher, Barkley Marathons lives up to its ‘toughest’ reputation

Kelyn Soong wrote the kind of quality article you’d expect from The Washington Post, and I’m happy I got to chat with him to help him do it.

With only one finisher, Barkley Marathons lives up to its ‘toughest’ reputation

The 12-hour cutoff for finishing the 20-plus mile loop of the notoriously difficult Barkley Marathons trail race was quickly approaching, and still there were no signs of professional ultrarunner Michael Wardian.

The Intelligent Racer – Winning At Barkley & Triathlons With John Kelly

I enjoyed the discussion with The Intelligent Racer, and particularly getting to talk a bit more about training and triathlons!

Episode 30: Winning At Barkley & Triathlons With John Kelly – The Intelligent Racer

In this episode of the Intelligent Racer Podcast we talk with John Kelly about being the 15th ever finisher at The Barkley Marathons. We also discuss his triathlon training / racing. Some related links for more information: John’s Blog: http://www.randomforestrunner.com The Barkley Marathons: http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley/ The Barkley Marathons Documentary: http://barkleymovie.com Photo Credit: Keith Dunn What is a podcast?

Ultrarunner Podcast – John Kelly Interview – Barkley Finisher Number Fifteen

Eric Schranz from Ultrarunnerpodcast did some great research and I had a great time walking through my Barkley experience with him.

John Kelly Interview – Barkley Finisher Number 15

John Kelly joined me just a few days after his finish to talk about what it took to finish the Barkley Marathons. Here’s a hint: Massive amounts of planning, decades of course knowledge, his Aunt Brenda’s cookies, and the incredible ability to focus through a dense fog of fatigue.

Slowtwitch – The triathlete who conquered Barkley

For the record I’ll always consider myself an ultrarunner who does triathlons, not vice versa, but I really enjoyed this interview and getting to look at Barkley from a bit of a different perspective.

The triathlete who conquered Barkley

A week ago triathlete and ultrarunner John Kelly became the 15th person since 1986 to conquer the infamous Barkley Marathons – a ultra difficult 100 mile trail race in the Frozen Head State Park in TN. This humble Every Man Jack athlete talked to us about that experience and more.

Trail Runner Magazine – Born and Bred in the Briars

They may have stolen my initial title for my race report,  but Ariella did a great job and the title worked better here anyway! It also forced me to come up with a title that I think was better for my race report.

“Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please. Only please, Brer laz, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

Read at trailrunnermag.com

WBIR – Celebration and heartbreak at the Barkley Marathons finish

Raishad came over to my parents’ house to interview me the day after the race. I’m still kind of in rough shape, and he probably caught me between naps, but it was awesome to get to talk to him and tell some of the story to the same news program that I grew up watching.

Celebration and heartbreak at the Barkley Marathons finish

MORGAN COUNTY, TENN. – On Monday afternoon, John Kelly joined one of the world’s most elite running groups by finishing the 2017 Barkley Marathons. The insane course is a 100 mile race up and down the steep cliffs of Frozen Head State Park in Morgan County.

Canadian Running – Who is John Kelly, the 15th person to have ever finished the Barkley Marathons?

I feel like “Who is John Kelly?” is what people have asked at every Barkley for the past 3 years. Thank you very much to Canadian Running Magazine for helping to clear that up.

Who is John Kelly, the 15th person to have ever finished the Barkley Marathons? – Canadian Running Magazine

John Kelly made trail running history on April 3, 2017 by becoming the 15th person to ever complete the Barkley Marathons. The Barkley Marathons in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee is known to the toughest endurance challenge ever with over 160 kilometres of tough terrain, sheer drops and thick forest.

2017 Barkley Marathons Race Report

2017 Barkley Marathons Race Report

The White Whale of Tennessee

For three years I obsessively chased my white whale through the very Tennessee mountains where I grew up. In 2015 I failed after 3 loops, a harsh introduction to Barkley where I had been doomed by a poor nutrition strategy. In 2016 I failed just after starting the 5th loop, done in by navigational errors that led to sleep deprivation. Those taught me valuables lessons, though, and I came into this year’s race more prepared, with a better mindset, and with the same incredible support from my wife, family, and friends, as well as some outstanding companies (Hammer Nutrition, Ultimate Direction, Every Man Jack, Chopt).

Read more

WATE – East Tennessee native becomes 15th finisher of Barkley Marathons

Of all the people I’ve talked to after the race, it’s still one of the coolest things to me to see the local media interest and to get to talk to them.

East Tennessee native becomes 15th finisher of Barkley Marathons

WARTBURG (WATE) – It is a race that is notorious for how many people have not completed. More than 1,000 people have attempted to complete the Barkley Marathons, but on Monday, John Kelly, 32, became the 15th person to complete the race in Frozen Head State Park.

Canadian Running – 2017 Barkley Marathon features one finisher, heartbreak for Gary Robbins

Canadian Running Magazine was at the race, and this is their immediate story on the race’s two-faced finish.

2017 Barkley Marathon features one finisher, heartbreak for Gary Robbins – Canadian Running Magazine

Washington, D.C.’s John Kelly has finished, and won, the 2017 Barkley Marathons in 59:30:53. Gary Robbins did not make the 1:42 p.m. EDT cutoff after 60 hours. With the victory, Kelly is the 15th finisher in the race’s history. Robbins missed the 60-hour cutoff by an agonizing six seconds after touching the yellow gate (the finish) from the opposite direction.

2017 Barkley Marathons Quick Recap

2017 Barkley Marathons Quick Recap

I’m hoping to get to my full race report in the next week, but I wanted to go ahead and get a quick recap and some thoughts out. The past few days have been pretty crazy, and it’s still kind of hard to believe. I owe a huge thank you to my family, awesome crew, and companies that supported me. I needed all of their incredible support and commitment to get me to that gate a 5th time. Having 30 minutes might seem like a nice cushion, but just 8 minutes more per transition, or just 30 seconds more per book, and I would’ve been over.

Read more

2017 Barkley Marathons Training

2017 Barkley Marathons Training

One of the first questions I normally get asked when people find out I’ve done / am doing the Barkley Marathons, is how I train for something like that. My training has evolved over the years, from 2015 when I had no idea what I was doing and just ran every hill I could find all the time at any time of day no matter the impact to personal life, to this year when I had a very set routine and fit my training around family and job rather than vice versa.

Read more

UltraRunning Magazine – The Barkley Marathons: Where Dreams Go to Change

Leon Lutz did an unbelievable job writing this article. His description of my transition from loop 4 to 5 is by far my favorite that I’ve seen.

The Barkley Marathons: Where Dreams Go to Change

by Leon Lutz A flicker ignites the end of a cigarette. A deep inhalation precedes a release of smoke into the Tennessee sky. Less than three weeks later, this very gesture will launch 40 people into the wilds of Frozen Head State Park as it begins to emerge from a long winter’s nap.

2016 Barkley Marathons

2016 Barkley Marathons

A Chinese version of this race report translated by Larson Zhang can be viewed here.

Pre-race

I arrived at Frozen Head two days before the race with a great deal of optimism. The weather looked perfect, I had trained well, and I knew that a solid group of veterans would be there including Jared Campbell. I also felt great about course navigation. I could visualize in my head the route to almost every book. The descent to book 2 was a little hazy for me, but I would assuredly still be with a group during that portion on the first loop. Otherwise I felt I could lead or go it alone if necessary, something I was never quite confident enough to do the previous year. I wanted 5 loops, and I felt good about my chances.

Read more

iRunFar – Barkley: The Beauty Out There

Leon Lutz does a fantastic job looking at Barkley from a fresh perspective, and I’m glad I was able to provide part of that.

Barkley: The Beauty Out There

Another Barkley Marathons is in the books and the latest chapter has reaffirmed the race’s longstanding reputation of being as hard as any race comes with time running out on all 40 starters before anyone could complete a fourth much less a fifth lap.

Bloomberg – All 40 Runners Fail at 100-Mile Tennessee Mountain Race

I believe this was my first ever running-related interview, and it was pretty hilarious to me at the time that I got into Bloomberg for running. Michael did a great job covering the race in the last year before it exploded in popularity due to the documentary.

All 40 Runners Fail at 100-Mile Tennessee Mountain Race

None of the 40 runners who attempted to finish the 100-mile Barkley Marathons in the mountains of eastern Tennessee completed the race, the first time since 2007 that the endurance test had no finishers. “The mountains won,” said Gary Cantrell, who created the event in 1986. “I was pleased with the outcome.

2015 Barkley Marathons

2015 Barkley Marathons

Pre-race

In the weeks leading up to the Barkley I eagerly anticipated the start of the race, but at the same time I had not been so nervous about something in years. The Barkley was more than just a race to me; it was personal. I grew up across the street from the course at the bottom of Chimney Top. My family had been on that land next to their namesake Kelly Mountain for 200 years. Those mountains are in my blood, and they were about to get a chance to reclaim some of it. Just as my background gave me enormous motivation, though, it also gave me trepidation. I could handle my own likely failure, but I was the home team and I wanted to represent the community well.

Read more