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RUN247 / Running News / Trail Running News / Barkley Marathons 2024: ‘False alarm’ first but the race has now STARTED!

Barkley Marathons 2024: ‘False alarm’ first but the race has now STARTED!

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on
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This year’s Barkley Marathons is under way at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.

The date of the event – usually at some point in March or early April – is kept a secret to discourage spectators from attending due to the delicate nature of the park’s ecosystem.

But the speculation had been growing in recent days that we were set for lift-off and a sudden flurry of reposts on Twitter / X from Keith Dunn – in what was the early hours of Wednesday morning for him – only underlined that.

He’s the only source of official updates for the race and sure enough his next post said: “The conch was blown at 3:16. The 2024 Barkley Marathons begins in one hour.”

But just minutes later that was followed by: “False alarm, folks. It was someone’s car alarm” which was greeted with a combination of dismay and delight on the #BM100 hashtag along the lines of “I have no idea what is real or not anymore”! The original tweet was also then deleted.

However, almost exactly an hour later, Keith posted again: “The conch was blown at 4:17. The 2024 Barkley Marathons begins in one hour.”

There’s a 12-hour window from midnight to midday for the start and when maverick race organiser Lazarus Lake – real name Gary Cantrell – blows the conch, the 40 competitors know they have an hour to get ready.

All of which meant the race started at 05:17 local time (09:17 in the UK and 10:17 in central Europe), with Dunn confirming: “After a brief memorial, the cigarette was lit at 5:17. The 2024 Barkley Marathons has begun.”

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Fitting ‘start’ to world’s craziest ultra

The runners, who in the hour before the start were all issued with a basic watch set to 00:00, were sent on their way by Laz symbolically lighting a cigarette.

Lazarus Lake start Barkley Marathons 2023 photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram
[Photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram]

There have only been 17 finishers in the history of the event – and there hadn’t been any since 2017 until last year when Aurelien Sanchez, John Kelly (for a second time) and Karel Sabbe all completed five loops.

The race, which is widely known as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, features five 20-mile laps, which each have to be completed inside 12 hours.

Or runners can achieve a ‘fun run’ which is three laps in the space of 40 hours, something that was done by Jasmin Paris in 2022.

And the British ultrarunner went one better last year when she became only the second woman in the iconic race’s history to start a fourth loop.

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Who is taking part? And how to follow…

It has since been confirmed that she’s back for a third attempt. Could she become the first woman to finish?

All will be revealed soon and here’s who we know so far are taking part.

And our live race page will keep you updated with what’s happening from start to finish.

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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