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Kelly, Paris, Hall, Campbell all in Barkley Marathons mix as first loop plays out

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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We still need to establish exactly who everyone is, but after the first loop of this year’s Barkley Marathons, it’s already clear that it’s a stacked field.

Before we try and decipher who’s who, this is how things stand after the first of potentially five 20-mile loops. As ever, all thanks to the cryptic Keith Dunn:

  • Positions 1-6: The first three runners have completed loop one in 8:30:59 & etc., followed closely behind by three more runners.
  • 7-8: The next two runners have come in at 8:34:47 and 8:35:17.
  • 9-11: Two French runners have finished loop one in 8:45:48 and a few seconds later, followed by a nondescript guy in 8:46:35.
  • 12: A Japanese runner has set a new personal record for loop one at 9:11:05.
  • 13: A guy with awesome glasses has finished loop one in 9:16:14.
  • 14: A guy with very daring shorts has finished loop one in 9:30:24.
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Who’s who?

We’re pretty sure of a few of them. Barkley maestro John Kelly appeared to be leading the way as he searches for a third finish, though we would like to see 100% evidence of that.

A third finish would match Jared Campbell, though he too is almost certainly in that top 14 as “non-descript guy” at 8:46.

British stars Jasmin Paris (could she be the first female finisher this year?) and Damian Hall look to be in the leading six as potentially does automatic qualifier Harvey Lewis, though there’s a bit of confusion around him.

Paris and Hall definitely appeared to be in photos of the leaders at the Fire Tower two thirds of the way into the loop.

And the 12th-placed Japanese runner is odds-on to be Tomo Ihara.

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Toughened-up course?

So while still the odd gap or two to fill in on names, the times are set in stone.

And they could be construed to be slightly worrying for those hoping for a repeat of last year’s three finishers.

For as the table below shows, the chance of completing all five loops drops dramatically after 8:30 for the first of them.

That should be caveated by the fact that this year’s route looks to have been toughened up by race creator Laz Lake, probably in response to last year and a decent weather forecast over the next 48 hours.

Aurélien Sanchez is either higher up or one of the two French runners in positions 9-10 at 8:45, which would be virtually identical to his time last year when he won on debut to become finisher #16.

And the slowest first loop of a Barkley finisher is 9:29 by Kelly in 2017 so everything is still possible.

Who’s heading home?

And it’s not just about those at the head of affairs. The first two runners were eliminated relatively early on. Keith Dunn ‘brutal’ in his description of the latter, saying: “The second runner has been tapped out. He came for five loops; he lasted five hours.”

At 11 hours and 20 minutes half the field still were still on loop one, meaning runners had 40 minutes to get in and out to be on 100-mile pace, or two hours for ‘fun run’ pace (40 hours for three loops).

And there was a great recovery mission by one competitor, Dunn explaining: “Tragedy averted – a runner who came in off loop one three hours ago, missing a page, went back out and found the page. Loop one completed.” We think that was France’s Guillaume Calmettes.

And worth re-iterating the changes to the course this year, nicely summed up by Jared Beasley below.

Keep right up to speed with our live updates page as loop two starts to unfold.

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.  

THE SBRX Show

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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