RUN247 / Running News / Trail Running News / Damian Hall – the other Brit trying to conquer Barkley’s ‘Kafka-esque hell’

Damian Hall – the other Brit trying to conquer Barkley’s ‘Kafka-esque hell’

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on

Much of the focus is currently – and understandably – on Jasmin Paris as she looks to become the first woman to finish the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee by completing the brutal five 20-mile loops inside 60 hours.

But starting just ahead of her on the final lap – and going clockwise – is good friend and fellow Brit Damian Hall.

Two Brits in final seven

And the two share many things in common. They are both former overall winners of the Montane Winter Spine Race, a 268-mile brute along the Pennine Way.

Hall has also been Paris’ coach and they are co-founders of ‘The Green Runners’. That in itself underlines the importance to Hall of trying to finish the Barkley as he has pledged to fly just once a year, another reason not to take a return trip to Frozen Head State Park lightly following a terrific debut there 12 months ago.

He made it all the way through to the final loop in 2023 alongside Aurélien Sanchez, John Kelly and Karel Sabbe.

But unlike that trio he was unable to find the first book on that loop, which he was running in an anti-clockwise direction (the same way as Aurelien, with John and Karel going clockwise). He searched for an hour before giving up and returning to camp.

‘Kafka-esque hell’

Speaking afterwards to INOV8, for whom he’s an ambassador, he explained: “After an hour of searching (and two full days without sleep) I was growing increasingly confused. Caffeine, calories and a third attempt at a power nap didn’t work.

“I decided, whether I wasn’t compos mentis enough to find the book, or it was somehow missing (stolen by a crow or something?), both things were race ending.”

Damian Hall 2023 winner photo credit Montane Spine Race
Damian Hall – the 2023 winner of the Winter Spine Race [Photo credit: Montane Spine Race]

But writing recently for Runners World, it’s clear the Barkley has him in its spell: “The Barkley is a Kafka-esque hell. But it’s my kind of hell. When I say hell, I mean a deliberately confusingly outdoor library.

“My running problem may have become a Barkley problem. If Laz lets me in again, I’ll need to sharpen my nav skills, sleep-depravation management and perhaps turn over a new leaf and train as a librarian.”

He’s given himself a fantastic shot at going one better and you can see how he gets on via our live updates page.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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