The 2024 Barkley Marathons Were The Most Historic To Date

History wasn't just made a the finish line this year...it began to rewrite itself much earlier

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Finishing the Barkley Marathons puts you into one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. Since 1986, only 17 people (before this year) out of over 1,000 have completed the 100 miles of the Barkley Marathons within the demanding 60-hour time limit.

The 2024 Barkley Marathons began Wednesday, March 20, at 5:17 p.m. local time (EDT).

After 60 hours of brutal racing in the crucible that is Frozen Head State Park in Tennesee, the Barkley Marathons saw a historic number of finishers. 

The 2024 Barkley Marathons Were The Most Historic To Date 1
Photo Credit: Jacob Zocherman

34 runners made it to the start of the race, and five completed the five 20-mile loops within the grueling time limit. Prior to the 2024 edition, the highest number of runners to ever finish the Barkley Marathons was three, which occurred in 2023 and 2012.

However, the history written at this edition of the Barkley Marathons doesn’t begin and end with the astronomical number of finishers compared to any other edition. History began to rewrite itself much earlier in the race…

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Photo Credit: David Miller

Not Your Typical ‘Fun Run’

Finishing three loops constitutes a ‘Fun Run’ at the Barkley Marathons, a label reserved for those who cover this much ground.

While attention understandably gravitates towards those striving for the elusive five-loop milestone, an impressive 12 participants out of the original 40 managed to conquer three 20-mile circuits this year. 

According to Keith Dunn, the race’s official (and cryptic) information source, this marks the highest number of such accomplishments since the 60-mile format was introduced. Notably, ten individuals proceeded to embark on the fourth loop, setting a new precedent.

However, once the 36-hour mark passes, runners still completing loop three are not permitted to advance to loop four. If they finish loop three within 40 hours, they earn recognition for completing a ‘Fun Run.’

Among the two individuals falling within this category this year was French competitor Guillaume Calmettes

Despite his tale likely becoming overshadowed in the coming 24 hours, it remains extraordinary. 

Calmettes, who initially realized he had overlooked a page during the first loop, retraced his steps to retrieve it, sacrificing three hours in the process. His subsequent accomplishment of completing three loops within the 40-hour window stands as a remarkable feat.

It was close at that – 39:52:59.

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Photo Credit: David Miller

Jasmin Paris Defies Expectations To Write History

The fan favorite of this year’s Barkley Marathons was Jasmin Paris, and rightfully so. 

Paris’s accolades prior to the Barkley Marathons are marked by a series of feats that have captivated audiences worldwide. Notably, her triumph at the Montane Winter Spine Race in 2019, where she shattered records while expressing breastmilk for her infant daughter, propelled her into the ultrarunning spotlight.

This extraordinary achievement, coupled with her unwavering determination, drew the attention of none other than Lazarus Lake, the mastermind behind the Barkley Marathons. Lake, a discerning observer of endurance athletics, identified in Paris the potential to rewrite history at his infamous race. 

His foresight proved prescient as Paris embarked on her Barkley odyssey, marked by relentless determination and resilience. In her debut attempt in 2022, Paris blazed a trail by becoming the first woman in a decade to complete a ‘Fun Run,’ conquering three loops within the stringent 40-hour timeframe.

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Photo Credit: David Miller

Undeterred by the daunting challenges posed by the Barkley’s rugged terrain, Paris returned for successive attempts, each marked by incremental progress towards her ultimate goal. In 2023, she made history once more by commencing a fourth loop, a feat achieved by only one other woman in the race’s storied history. 

In 2024, anticipation grew with each loop she completed. On the edge of their seats, the world followed the online updates throughout the final hours of the event.

A sigh of relief and celebrations began as at 59:58:21 Paris completed the final loop within the strict 60-hour time limit and became the first woman ever to complete the near-impossible Barkley Marathons.

Even before crossing the line of the Barkley’s, Paris had already broken some records as the first woman to complete three loops three times, the fastest female time for that distance, and the first female to start the final loop.

Ihor Verys Wins His Debut Barkley Marathons

After 58 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds, Ukrainian Canadian Ihor Verys was the first of the seven to cross the finish line of the Barkley Marathons before the 60-hour cutoff time.

Ihor Verys made an astonishing debut at the 2024 Barkley Marathons, emerging as the first finisher of the notorious race held in Frozen Head State Park.

Hailing from Ukraine and now residing in Canada since his student days nine years ago, Verys has quickly ascended the ranks of ultrarunning, clinching victory in nearly every race he’s entered since his inaugural performance at the Finlayson Arm 100K in 2021.

Among his notable triumphs was the recent conquest of the HURT 100 in Honolulu earlier this year. However, it was his unforgettable duel with Harvey Lewis at the Big’s Backyard Ultra last year, where he narrowly missed the win by a single loop, that truly captured attention.

WATCH: Ihor Verys First To Cross Barkley Marathons Finish Line 1
Photo Credit: Howie Stern

In a fascinating twist, Gary Robbins, a figure closely associated with the Barkley Marathons, happened to be Verys’ neighbor just ten doors down and introduced him to ultrarunning.

Verys’ performance at the Barkley was nothing short of extraordinary. Over the event’s 30+ year history, only 17 individuals had completed the grueling five 20-mile loops within the allotted 60 hours, a challenge equivalent to scaling Mount Everest twice in elevation.

Maintaining a strong position throughout the race, Verys remained within the leading group of six runners after the first loop. Despite reductions in numbers, he persisted, ultimately emerging as the frontrunner after the third loop and maintaining that lead through the fourth. 

This strategic positioning granted him the advantage of selecting his route for the final loop, opting to traverse it clockwise.

Accounts from Rat Jaw during the final loop indicated Verys’ remarkable condition. According to Harvey Lewis, he quipped at one point, “It’s only 60 hours, not 107,” alluding to their epic showdown at Big’s Backyard.

Crossing the finish line at the renowned yellow gate with over an hour to spare, Verys clocked in at 58:44:59, following in the footsteps of last year’s victor, Aurélien Sanchez, who also clinched victory on his inaugural visit to Frozen Head State Park.

You can find the full 2024 Barkley Marathons finisher results below:

  • Ihor Verys – 58:44:59
  • John Kelly – 59:15:38
  • Jared Campbell – 59:30:32
  • Greig Hamilton – 59:38:42
  • Jasmin Paris – 59:58:21
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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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