Monday, April 4, 2011

Barkley . . . For Real This Time

Credit: RW- Fox
Since I posted last week about Barkley and was embarrassingly a week early, I thought I'd keep everyone in the loop about the real deal this past weekend.

Well it looks like there was a 10th all-time finisher in Brett Maune from California. Not much out there about Maune except for a questioned JMT speed-record from '09. Guess there's little doubt now? This guy is legit.

As you look at the short list of ten finishers since the race's inception in 1986, it is clear that most of the successful folks have one thing in common -- other than being male, it's experience and success on long trails and multi-day treks. The list of finishers stacks up a veritable "who's who" in the realm of speed-records. There's a reason why this race chews up and spits out the toughest ultra-sport folks that are used to suffering -- they're evidently not ready for that much misery, for that long. 

When will there be a female finisher? My friend Kim Love posed that question the other day and here was my comment:

I mean this will all due respect to the opposite sex and intend zero sexism in this comment. . . There are undoubtedly women out there that CAN finish Barkley. The question is though, of the women that CAN finish, how many have the DESIRE? There are far fewer women than men in the sport of ultrarunning so the number of possible finishers is already reduced. This race is as sadistic (and tough) as they come and requires more suffering than most (including me) desire. So will a woman finish? . . . someday (and I hope this year), but if I were a betting man I wouldn't be tossing much money to the bookie. I personally know a few women that have as good of a chance as any of the top men, but they simply don't have the key ingredient - DESIRE!

Now that there are 10 male finishers of Barkley, it's time that some capable women step-up and give it a legitimate shot.  They're out there, I know it.  To my knowledge (which is not that good), Sue Johnston has made it farther than any woman -- doing 3.5 loops in 2001(and she's about as tough as they come).  If you know a tough female ultrarunner, backpacker, or endurance athlete of any kind, encourage her to give Barkley a shot next year.  Do what you have to . . . pester, heckle, and harass the toughest women you know with whatever approach you like.  The negative reinforcement approach may work for some (ie. "A woman can't finish the BARKLEY!") or kindly build them up to take on the monster with a feminist flare (ie. "If a man can do it, you know you can!").  Regardless, it would be awesome to see a half-dozen serious women ready to take on this monumental challenge in 2012!

Me, I'm too much of a sissy.  I'll be cheering from the sidelines.


  1. How about Jen Pharr Davis? After she breaks the AT speed record this summer, she'll be in great shape. :-)

  2. Adam, When you previously posted about Barkley, I just assumed you were getting ready for April Fool's Day. At least I am giving you an out!

    Sophie, Good choice in Jen. She is one tough lady and she has been hit by lightening and survived.

  3. Yeah, I can't think of anyone more capable right now to get it done. That would be something, the AT speed-record and a Barkley finish!. . . Andrew Thompson has done it. I would say that if she can pull-off the goal on the AT this summer, she HAS to give Barkley a go(just sick Horton on her).