This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Wondering what that means?
The mystical non-sensical word can be disintegrated into three distinct wordlets: bark + bad + mar.
All of the three wordlets are acronyms for three fascinating words in a runner's book.

bark - barkley a.k.a The barkley ultramarathon
bad - badwater a.k.a The badwater ultramarathon
mar - simply Marathon

While 'marathon' is self-explanatory, and I have gone over the glories of the bad water , I haven't yet touched upon the so called barkley ultramarathon. If badwater marathon is one of the toughest foot races on earth, it is complemented by the barkley marathon with a 'toughness' that is redefined. Though the temperatures in the barkley race aren't extreme at the higher end of the celsius scale, they could be extreme at the lower end with bizzare weather that characterises this race.
The 'bark' race held in the frozen head state park, Tennesse, consists of a basic 20 mile loop that is run 3 times so as to complete a distance of 60 miles for a fun run(that's funny in what sense, I wonder) and 100 miles(5 loops) for those who complete the fun run within the cut-off of 36 hours.The 20 mile loop consists of 10,000ft of ascent that traverses 13 climbs which have their own unique names to signify the intensity or a particular characteristic of the climb! Little hell for example has a climb of 430 metres(1230 ft) in over a kilometre(25 degrees grade); while Big hell has 490 metres(1600 ft) climb in over 1.2 kms(23 degrees grade).

The course map

The 100 miler which is 5 loops has a 60 hr cut-off averaging 36 min/mile!
36 min/mile is surely no big deal you think, so even I think. But the race statistics go to show that not many finish 60 miles of the race and only a very very lucky few finish the 100 miles in under 60 hours(55 hours earlier).

The frozen head state park where the race is held

This makes us pose the question as to what makes it so tough for runners to not be able to run faster than a 36 min/mile or 3 kmph(!!!)? The answer - the course itself
complemented by an equally mystique weather. The race director, surely has to be appreciated for coming up with such a race, that tests not the running capabilities of a participant but his survival skills out in the course. No wonder this race has come under some amount of criticism from road runners, who can't see the point of running or not running a race. But, you got to be there on the course, to appreciate the
colossal difficulty in overcoming over 52,090 feet of ascent in no small grades. This race is more of an extreme rock-climbing, mountain hiking genre cocktailed with the 'ultra' factor. If you can have running the ultra way, surely you can have extreme mountain climbing/hiking the ultra way, so thought Gary Cantrell. People find multi-lap ultra races with little or no elevation changes tough to compete and complete, what to say about multi-lap races where you gotta do a lot of hiking, climbing that burns down the thighs of the participant as he goes about figuring out the first mile of the 100 mile race, let alone the rest of the 99 miles. Anyway, since I haven't participated in the race, I will not further elaborate on this race from a personal perspective.

The history of the race is pretty interesting too. The course is situated close to Brushy mointain prison,which housed infamous criminals like James Earl Ray accused of assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. As it happened, James escaped the prison and was running around in the Frozen Head national park, Tennesse for more than 2 days, but when he was caught later on, it was found that he wasn't more than a few miles away from the prison!

This ultra race has the notorious reputation for giving the most DNFs(did not finishes), even to accomplished ultra runners with an impressive record, who attempt it as just another ultra race, only to discover that this race is a one of its kind xtreme endurance event. Though the race started in 1987, it found its first 100 miler finisher in 1995! Since then, there have only been three more finishers, bringing it to a total of 4 finishers in 18 years!
A similar extreme mountain climbing/hiking/running race is the Nolan's 14,
where 14 fourteeners(peaks with a height greater than 14,000 ft) are scaled in colorado with a cut-off time of 60 hours and a cumulative ascent of 45,000ft, but unlike the Barkley race, there are no DNFs in Nolan's, only DNSs(did not starts)!


The Thinking Runner said...

Amazing! I came here today with the express purpose of posting a comment asking what 'barkbadmar' meant, and there was the answer!

arbit said...

That's an interesting coincidence..quirk of fate :-)

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'