Barkley Marathons end without finishers (again)
The 2022 Barkley Marathons have come to an end after the final two competitors, Karel Sabbe and Greig Hamiltonretired on their fourth loop of the 20+ mile course.
Sabbe was having a good time, completing three loops in just over 32 hours. The fourth loop in the dark didn’t do him any favors as he was found off course in another town chatting with a trash can he thought was a person (he had been running for over 40 hours at this point ). The local sheriff took Sabbe aside, escorting him to camp, where his attempt at Barkleys in 2022 sadly ended.
Hamilton, an orienteering expert, ran the first two loops with the stars of Big’s Backyard Ultra Courtney Dauwalter and Harvey Lewis, before overtaking them at the end of the second loop (where Dauwalter and Lewis crashed after failing to find the seventh book). Hamilton was moving well, but he had time to catch up, arriving at camp after the third loop nearly three hours behind Sabbe. Ultimately, that wasn’t in the cards for Hamilton, who didn’t complete loop four in less than 48 hours (the rule for being allowed to attempt loop five).
The Barkley course has won again, for the fifth consecutive year.
2017 marked the last time anyone finished; it was the year John Kelly completed all five loops (and Canada Gary Robin came close). One hundred and sixty-five riders have started the race since 2017, and Sabbe and Hamilton are the only riders to have reached loop four twice. Kelly tapped this year after three loops to complete the Fun Run.
Jasmine Paris scored a Fun Run, three loops of the course in less than 40 hours. She is the first woman to do so since Bev Anderson-Abbs (who is Canadian), in 2013. Paris, Kelly and Thomas Dunkerbeck are all credited with Fun Runs. (Runners who start a fourth loop are disqualified from claiming a Fun Run.)
There are about 40 entries each year. They have 60 hours to complete five 20-mile loops through steep, unforgiving terrain in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park while using their orientation skills to navigate the course, which is unmarked. GPS watches are not allowed; every runner is given a Casio watch with very few features beyond keeping them informed of elapsed time. Runners must also collect specific pages (corresponding to their bib number) from books hidden on the course; missing pages mean automatic disqualification. (Runners receive a new bib at the start of each loop).