Stomp of Approval!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Barkley Marathons...

Very few people in the world are aware of the existence of ultra marathons. They think that the normal 26.2 mile marathon is the longest running race out there. I myself was one of these people untill about 2 years ago when I read "Born to Run" which is basically a story about ultra running.

The thought of running long distances had always fascinated me. Something in my little pea sized brain clicks with running. As a punk highschool kid my favorite sport was Cross Country, and my favorite workouts were the few occasional long runs that coach would have us do. Before I started running again as an "adult", I would often fantasize about running across the great state of Texas, not aware that there were actual organized races that did almost this exact thing!

After learning about ultras, which come in "normal" flavors of 50k (32 miles), 50 mile, 100k (you guessed it! 62 miles!) To the coveted 100 mile. Of course theres races of all different types of distances, and even timed events ranging from 6 hours all the way up to multi day, even multi week, events. These are ran on every surface imaginable. Some, like the Rocky Racoon 50 miler I ran in Feburary, are ran on very easy, non technical trails. Others are on more technical trails held at higher elevations while climbing the sides of mountains such as the Leadville Trail 100. Theres even Badwater, which is a 135 mile death march down a paved road through Death Valley where the road gets so hot it melts your shoes.

All of these races are enough to make the average human cringe in fear. But for some, thats not good enough. Theres a small percentage of the population that wants to be pushed to the extreme limit of what is humanely possible. Both mentally, physically, and emotionally.

For these sick twisted individuals, theres the Barkley Marathons.

The Barkley Marathons is the bastard child of one Gary Cantrell, aka Lazarus Lake. It's called the Barkley Marathons because theres no exact distance of the race. In fact, theres not even an exact course. And it's not even really a race. It's basically hell on earth.

The race is held in "Frozen Head"state park in Tennessee on the weekend of April Fools. The "course" is through the park on a few marked trails, under an abandoned prison, up impossibly steep mountains, and across tench like ditches and bush whacking sans a machete your way through for 5 loops of approximately 20 miles each. The only way to validate that you have indeed ran the "course" is by visiting each of the 7~11 books places at random though the park and ripping out the page corresponding to your bib number. This works because there are no aid stations nor volunteers to be found at the Barkley. To make this even tougher, your surrounded by since of the creepiest looking woods found on this planet. To male that even more worse, the entire area is overran with "saw briars" which are essentially long branch looking plants covered in razor blades...

Sound bad? It gets worse.

The entire 100ish mile "course" contains 54,900 feet of climb and 54,900 feet of decent... Thats the equivalent of climbing and descending Mt. Everest... twice...

This is regarded by many as the toughest ultra marathon in the world. Need proof? It's been ran for 25 years, and still has over a 99% failure rate. In fact, only 12 people have ever conquered the entire 100 miles. To further reveal the true evil that is the Barkley, runners are given 60 hours to complete it, although I dont think most people have made it past the first 20 mile loop. Even fewer have completed the "fun run" which is 3 full loops. And the only 12 have completed the entire 5 loops.

This year history was made at the Barkley, and in a big BIG way.

This year not only was the old course record broken by several hours!!! But 3 people completed all 5 loops... The record setting Matt Mahoney is also the only person to have competed it twice! But dont let that fool you. Every year the race gets harder and harder. Lazarus Lake doesn't seem to be a big fan of people defeating the Barkley. So every year the course gets tougher. Every year he scoures the park, looking for something on the edge of impossible and adds it to the race. His goal with this race is to truely test the capability of the human being. Id say hes done a damn good job of it too!

...Does this race speak to me?


posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Negative Splits

Yes, the infamous "Negative Split" that is oh so elusive to many distance runners.

I've been trying to train myself to run negative splits in the majority of my training runs lately for a few reasons.

It helps simulate running on tired legs, but really, what doesn't? More so, it simulates running faster after running at a decent pace for awhile. This helps with the final kick in a race.

The main reason for this is because it seems to take my body a good mile or so before its warmed up. So the first mile is usually slowest. Then I gradually pick up the pace and finish with a good strong mile.

I have been using this on shorter runs (10 miles and under), but for the first time this weekend I used it on a 20 miler! It was a BLAST! My last 10 miles were ran over 6 minutes faster than my first 10, and all 20 were way faster than I normally run for that long of a distance.

On my shorter runs I will progressively run every mile dater and faster, with the last mile usually coming in somewhere under 7 minutes.

Not sure how this will help me accomplish most of my goals since they dont require running that fast. But theres 2 or 3 on the list that will benifit tremendously from this.

posted from Bloggeroid