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Verys, Kelly and Hall move clear at Barkley Marathons as Paris claims a three-peat

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on

Ihor Verys narrowly leads the way after the third loop of a potential five as he bids to finish the Barkley Marathons on his very first appearance at Frozen Head State Park.

That rare feat was achieved last year by Aurélien Sanchez, who dropped out of the race earlier today, and the Canadian-based Ukraine runner is looking in good shape to follow in the Frenchman’s footsteps having reached the camp in 31 hours, 31 minutes and 47 seconds.

That’s more than half an hour quicker than anyone managed last year when Sanchez, John Kelly and Karel Sabbe all went on to be the first finishers of the event since 2017.

No hanging around

And there’s a familiar look to the front runners again as just five minutes behind Verys are two-time finisher Kelly (USA) and Damian Hall (GBR), who made it to the fifth loop on his debut last year before becoming disorientated and exiting the race.

Verys was first to head back out on loop four, 31:46:21 into the race, but great friends and rivals Kelly and Hall didn’t hang about either, each taking less than 15 minutes for the ‘interloopal’ as they set off at 31:48:36 and 31:50:19 respectively.

But things have changed in behind as Hall’s fellow Brit Jasmin Paris has dropped away a little from what was a group of four at the start of the loop.

In fourth place now is New Zealander Greig Hamilton, who finished loop three in 32:12:43, with Paris only three minutes further back in 32:15:53 and described by Keith Dunn, the race’s official – and invaluable – information provider, as “smiling and looking good”.

Three-peat for Paris

And Paris has plenty of smile about – she’s over three hours quicker than at this stage last year, has just claimed two bits of Barkley Marathons history and moved a step closer to another hugely significant milestone.

The British ultrarunning star has raced at the Barkley in each of the last three years and has now completed three 20-mile loops every time, the first woman to do so. This also represents the fastest-ever three-loop time by a woman.

But now she is looking to becoming the first female runner to finish the race – something only 17 men have done since the event was extended to 100 miles in 1989.

Paris made international headlines in 2019 when winning the gruelling 268-mile Winter Spine Race in the UK, beating her rivals by more than 15 hours and becoming the first woman to take the overall win.

She set out on her fourth loop with the clock at 32:27:50.

Jasmin Paris day 2 Barkley Marathons 2023 photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram
Jasmin Paris in between loops at the Barkley Marathons [Photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram]

Others in contention

By the start of the third loop the initial 40 runners had been whittled down to 13 and it was soon further reduced to 12 when last year’s first finisher Sanchez exited the race saying: “I don’t know how I did that last year.”

But there are plenty of others who also have designs on a finish, including three-time winner Jared Campbell and he’s in sixth place after finishing the lap in 32:20:54.

You can keep track of how the race progresses 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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