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Barkley Marathons 2024 will go down in the record books

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on

Long billed as ‘The Race That Eats Its Young’, the 2024 edition of the Barkley Marathons will be one to go down in history.

Even before the ground-breaking fifth and final loop of the infamous 100-mile race, we were into unchartered territory.

Different type of ‘Fun’

Completing three loops – if that’s as far as you go – is termed a ‘Fun Run’ at the Barkley Marathons.

And while the focus was later rightly on those chasing a coveted five-lap finish, no fewer than 12 of the original 40-strong field clocked up three 20-mile loops this year.

As the race’s official information provider Keith Dunn pointed out, that’s the most since the introduction of the 60-mile distance. Ten of those would start loop four – another record. Seven for lap five, again a new best.

But after the 36 hours point, any runners still on loop three cannot continue to loop four. If they complete loop three within 40 hours, they will be credited with ‘Fun Run’ status.

One of the two in that bracket this year was Frenchman Guillaume Calmettes and while his story may well get somewhat lost given what came afterwards, it’s a remarkable one.

For he was the runner on the first loop who realised he was missing a page so headed back out on course to retrieve it and got back just in time, despite it costing him three hours.

To then go on and complete three loops within the 40 hours was an incredible achievement.

It was close too – 39:52:59.

All to play for

But back to those still out on course at that point – and all 10 had realistic prospects of a finish, with their times ranging from 31:31:47 through to 34:43:15 as they looked to go under 60 hours with two loops to go.

Of course that was never likely to happen at the Barkley but it was relatively late into the fourth loop when the first of the 10 would drop out of the race – Maxime Gauduin at the Fire Tower.

On debut, it had been a magnificent effort from the Barkley Fall Classic winner, though he said afterwards: “It’s really different from the BFC.”

Japan’s Tomo Ihara was next to go. Dunn reporting that he “dropped on loop four, taking quitter’s road back to camp”. And Spain’s Albert Herrero Casas suffered a similar fate.

But a new record of seven runners did start the fifth and final loop – Ihor Verys, John KellyDamian Hall, Greig Hamilton, Jasmin Paris, Jared Campbell and Sébastien Raichon.

That massively increased the chance of the highest number to ever finish one race.

Since it was extended to 100 miles in 1989 just 17 have completed all five loops. And last year’s tally of three had only been matched once before, in 2012.

All that changed in 2024.

Five of the seven made it all the way round, including Campbell who moved on to a never-before-achieved four finishes.

Kelly went to three and Ihor Verys became finisher #18 and New Zealand’s Greig Hamilton #19.

All of which was remarkable in its own right, but something even more special was still to happen.

Jasmin in a class of her own

Jasmin Paris had already racked up the records on her own well before the fifth and final loop.

Already bagged were the first woman to complete three loops three times, the fastest female time for that distance, the first female to start the final loop and many more.

But it was the first woman to finish which she and everyone else desperately wanted and with 99 seconds of the 60 hours to go, that was achieved. The achievement would reverberate around the world. The ultrarunning race shrouded in secrecy was about to go mainstream.

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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