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Barkley Marathons 2024: Who is taking part? Aurélien Sanchez and Jasmin Paris both spotted

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on
SHOP

The conch has been blown and the cigarette lit so the next all-important next question is who is taking part in this year’s Barkley Marathons?

This is very much a work in progress, initially featuring runners known to have booked a spot and those who have recently posted on social media saying they are taking part – or have been reported to be doing so by reputable media outlets.

The latest names to be added are big ones too – none other than last year’s winner Aurélien Sanchez and British ultrarunning legend Jasmin Paris.

The automatic qualifiers

John Kelly recently provided a great explanation of how most of the 40 runners come to be selected.

But a handful automatically qualify themselves each year, including 2023 Big’s Backyard Ultra winner Harvey Lewis and Barkley Fall Classic heroes Maxime Gauduin and Kris Rugloski.

That’s allowed them to talk about their training and build up going into the event, with Lewis giving plenty of insights as he looks to make it third time lucky after loop two exits in the last two years.

French orienteer and trail runner Gauduin is a clearly a big fan of the Barkley and was absorbed by countryman Aurelien Sanchez’s victory last year.

Unfortunately Rugloski was a late withdrawal, explaining on her Instagram page: “I was supposed to be back in TN at Frozen head giving the Barkley Marathons #bm100 my best attempt this week…. Instead, out with a meniscus tear, and will be laying around for a few more weeks.

“I ask a lot from my body sometimes, and I’m grateful she’s held up this far! I love to race and compete, but my longterm goals are to be running for the next few decades, so I’m happy to take some time off to let my body heal and I’ll be back at it before long.”

Previous finishers

It’s effectively an unwritten rule that this is another way to claim one of the coveted spots, though an essay still has to be submitted.

And it strongly appears that last year’s winner Aurélien Sanchez – the 16th person to ever finish the Barkley and on his debut no less – is back for more.

France’s L’Independant newspaper announced the news shortly after the start, which was at 05:17 local time, with the article available via the X post below.

And John Kelly, on the back of his second finish in 2023, revealed that his application ‘essay’ for this year was simply:

“By this point, I just don’t want to waste my own time or laz’s with a full essay. But I at least try to come up with something meaningful to say:

“The key to a 3-peat is change. You can’t ‘repeat’ the formula. Your opponent has already figured it out. You have to keep growing. Continue into the unknown.” – Phil Jackson

“So I go once again into a new unknown against a repeat opponent that is never the same.”

That sounds to us a lot like Kelly is back for another go.

The other finisher from last year Karel Sabbe has categorically stated he’s not racing in 2024.

‘An actual non-zero chance of finishing’

The next category in the John Kelly guide to the Barkley field is those in with a ‘chance’ of finishing and there’s no doubt that Jasmin Paris fits firmly into that bracket.

She looked to have been spotted in a short video of the start – and she’s now showed up in photographs at the Fire Tower in the lead group on loop one.

She bagged a ‘fun run’ on her first appearance in 2022 and started the fourth loop last year – could 2024 see her become the first-ever female finisher of the Barkley? Click here to find out why that could fulfil a Laz Lake prophecy.

And look closely in that X post above in the photo before the Jasmin Paris one as that looks suspiciously like her fellow ‘Green Runner’ Damian Hall.

He produced a sensational debut 12 months ago when he started the fifth and final loop.

Confirmed – and strongly speculated

One of the first reveals we saw this year came when Natural Origins published a piece on their athlete Sébastien Raichon, the record-breaking winner of the Tors des Glaciers.

They quoted the Frenchman saying this about the 2024 Barkley: “It’s a real work in progress, but I’m lucky enough to be able to take part, and my aim is to finish.

“I like orienteering and 60 hours isn’t very long after all, but you have to remain humble with the Barkley, because a lot will depend on the weather!”

The good news for Raichon and the others is the forecast looks pretty good for this week.

Lots of other names have been thrown into the hat, including Albert Herrero, the Spaniard who was so prominent last year for a long way as he completed three loops.

Why the secrecy?

There’s very good reason that so much about the Barkley – especially the start date – is kept under wraps.

For the delicate ecological status of Frozen Head State Park means that spectators are positively discouraged.

Those covering the race respect this and there’s also the fact that this is pretty much a unique sporting event in the modern age, where the only real official information comes from the Twitter account of Keith Dunn.

All of which adds to the charm – and challenge – of providing updates!

There hadn’t been a finisher since 2017 until last year when no fewer than three made it through the five 20-mile loops inside the 60-hour timeframe. Who knows what the 2024 version will bring but our live coverage will keep you right up to date.

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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