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).
The Barkley quickly made a mockery of my preparation with a dense fog that threw the race into chaos from the very start. I teamed up with Gary Robbins and we clawed back from those early errors to put ourselves in position to finish. The 5th and final loop brought severe sleep deprivation, rain, cold, and the return of the fog before I returned to camp to touch the yellow gate and complete the race in 59 hours and 30 minutes. The white whale was dead. Three years of work that encompassed over six total days on course for the accomplishment of a lifetime.
The experience of this race is one that I’ll never forget and I tried to capture that as well as I could in my full race report. It’s a bit lengthy, but I hope that you’ll enjoy it and take something meaningful away from it. So curl up with your electronic reading device and beverage of choice and head on over to iRunFar to read my full 2017 Barkley Marathons Race Report. Thank you to so many friends for capturing great pictures of the race, including Howie Stern Photography and Josh Patton Designs.