Barkley Marathons Director Laz Lake Embarks On Lazcon, A 3,000-Mile Walk Across America

The ultrarunning legend will walk the length of America from east to west


Lazarus “Laz” Lake is an iconic figure in the world of trail and ultra-running. Lake’s outward appearance, characterized by his self-professed “hillbilly” demeanor and the absence of 13 teeth, stands in stark contrast to his sharp intellect and burgeoning global admirers.

He is the mastermind behind the Barkley Marathons, and his name resonates profoundly within the ultra-running community, reflecting his legendary status.

While Lake’s professional journey began in accountancy, culminating in retirement in 2011, his role as a race director has catapulted him into a busier phase of life than ever before. 

Alongside the Barkley Marathons, Lake keeps busy by organizing and directing a series of renowned races such as Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, the Barkley Fall Classic, Strolling Jim 40, Vol State 500k, and Heart of the South Mystery Run, each notorious for their near-impossible challenges and unique entry criteria.

Barkley Marathons Director Laz Lake Embarks On Lazcon, A 3,000-Mile Walk Across America 1

What Is Lazcon 2024?

Following what is deemed as the most triumphant and historic Barkley Marathons to date, boasting five finishers, among them the first female finisher, Lake, has begun yet another journey across America. 

Dubbed “Lazcon 2024,” this expedition mirrors his earlier Lazcon endeavor in 2018.

In this edition, Laz embarks once more on an east-to-west trek, commencing in Delaware with his sights set on San Francisco. He aims to arrive by approximately August 26th. 

At the age of 69, Laz embarked on his journey from the East Coast, symbolically dipping his toes into the Atlantic.

Despite facing health challenges, including a femoral artery blockage and other ailments, Laz has meticulously planned the next six months. Jared Beasley, who is assisting Laz for a couple of weeks at the beginning of his journey, attests to Laz’s determination to reach San Francisco against all odds.

Spanning roughly 3,000 miles or 4,800 kilometers, this journey builds upon Laz’s extensive preparation, including various lengthy training walks since 2018. Notably, he has previously traversed the country from Michigan to Florida, split across three separate trips.

Approaching the age of 70, Laz is known for his habitual smoking, a tradition that kicks off the Barkley Marathons an hour after he sounds the conch. As he shared on Wednesday, despite battling back issues, Laz finds himself in a race against the clock.

“11 weeks ago i struggled with my back after an hour. i have come a long way already. it might have been nice to have a few more weeks before i took off. but the snow in the sierras will come when it comes and i have to get there first. i could have postponed for another year.”

“but i cant forget barry barkley. at 70 he could still do stuff. at 71 he couldnt. he never saw 72.”

Barkley Marathons Director Laz Lake Embarks On Lazcon, A 3,000-Mile Walk Across America 2

Laz is speaking of Barry Barkley, his close friend, neighbor, and running companion, after whom he named the Barkley Marathons after. Sadly, Barry Barkley passed away in 2019.

Laz keeps his followers updated in a private Lazcon 2024 Facebook group, where he posts nearly every day about his surroundings, the challenges he’s facing, and even philosophical meditations.

“half a year in another world the real world, no trumpers no wokers just people.helpful, friendly, encouraging, supportive people. we will walk together and talk together and sometimes sit and eat together”

“And afterwards someone will tell me; i am really glad we got to meet those folks from everything i have heard they are some kind of monsters…but they are just good people. yes. just like you and me.”

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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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