RUN247 / Running News / ‘Update your will’ – Ten quotes from Barkley Marathons creator Lazarus Lake

‘Update your will’ – Ten quotes from Barkley Marathons creator Lazarus Lake

Patrick Ryan
Published on
Endure 24
How Far Will You Go? UK's Biggest 24hr Trail Race

Lazarus Lake, also known by his real name Gary Cantrell, is the founder and race director of the infamous Barkley Marathons – the world’s toughest and most absurd ultra-marathon.

First held in 1986, only 18 people have ever completed the gruelling five-lap, 100-mile event, which must be completed within 60 hours.

At the heart of the event is the enigmatic Lake, who has become a cult figure in the running world. Starting the Barkley Marathons every year by lighting a cigarette, he is known for creating only the hardest, cruellest races, all of which have his eccentricity running through them.

So, here are ten of Lake’s most extraordinary quotes about the Barkley Marathons, running and life in general.

Lazarus Lake quotes

“You don’t have to eat to run, that’s an old wives tale. We were designed for feast and famine. Most people of who have lived have been hungry most of the time. There’s either plenty or there’s nothing.”

(In a letter to Barkley Marathon contestants): “[Your participation will] amount to nothing more than an extended period of unspeakable suffering, at the end of which you will ultimately find only failure and humiliation.”

Lazarus Lake

“Update your will, visit with friends and relatives, and otherwise tie up any and all loose ends. Should the unfortunate mental condition which led to your application for the 2016 Barkley Marathons improve, you might still escape by simply writing me and asking that your slot be passed along to some other unfortunate fool.”

“You’ve got 24 seconds to do the right thing and go home.”

“In France, I’m a star, in America, I’m thought of more as a homeless person.”

“If you’re going to face a real challenge it has to be a real challenge. You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”

“A lot of people live their life as if they want to turn in their equipment in mint condition. I want them to look at me and say, ‘My God, everything is worn out’. You only get so much life; it’s how much living you can pack into it that counts.”

“I think that people who go through this are better for it. They’re better for what they’ve asked of themselves”

“You’re not going to finish the race with mental resilience alone. Nor is it just about being physically skilled. No matter who you are, or how physically skilled you are, you’re going to want to quit at some point.”

“For some people, to finish the Fun Run is the accomplishment of a lifetime. And for some of them to finish one loop is the achievement of a lifetime. And for some people, just to get back to camp alive is all they want in the world.”

Patrick Ryan
Written by
Patrick Ryan
Patrick is a major contributor to TRI247 and RUN247. A keen hiker with wide experience in sports journalism, he has covered the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.


In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more

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