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Greig Hamilton – Barkley finisher #19 on his “really enjoyable time in the woods”

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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Lots has rightly been written about Jasmin Paris’ achievement in becoming the first woman to finish the Barkley Marathons.

Plenty too on winner Ihor Verys’ incredible journey from Ukraine and completing the Barkley less than three years after his first ultra race.

While the masterclasses of Jared Campbell and John Kelly, with their respective fourth and third finishes, have been lauded too.

But less in the spotlight has been the fifth finisher from a record-breaking 2024 edition, Greig Hamilton.

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Unassuming Hamilton gives credit to others

Hamilton produced an astonishing display of his own as he became the first New Zealander to conquer the event on what was his third attempt, clocking 59 hours, 38 minutes and 42 seconds to just beat the 60-hour cut-off.

Since then he’s been happy to shy away from the limelight, his post on Facebook summing things up nicely: “I’ve just had a fantastic holiday and a really enjoyable time in the woods with some like minded folks.”

Barkley Marathons 2024 five finishers photo credit Keith Dunn on X
Greig Hamilton, left, with the other four finishers [Photo credit: Keith Dunn on X]

And he’s also penned a lovely tribute to Sarah Smith for supporting him through the five loops, in the process giving a great insight into crewing at the Barkley.

He wrote: “One of the things about the Barkley that is often glossed over is the support crew. Each racer is allowed one support crew person. They’re often vital to the racer’s success but receive no recognition. Five runners finished this year but almost no one could name one of their support crew.

“They have the unenviable but crucial task of being the runner’s mum for several days. This year I had the amazing Sarah C Smith supporting me again. It’s hard for me to even begin describing just how much help she is.”

He goes into detail on what sounds like fabulous food offerings from fresh mango smoothies to piping hot pizzas and points out: “If my transitions between each loop had been 5-6min longer I wouldn’t have finished. Sarah was crucial to me finishing!”

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Laz and Harvey on Hamilton’s star quality

And Hamilton’s own achievements have been rightly recognised by two people who understand better than most just what it took to get to that famous yellow gate for a fifth time inside the 60 hours – race creator Laz Lake and Backyard Ultra world record holder Harvey Lewis, who tackled the Barkley for a third time himself but again had to bow out on loop two.

Laz said: “Greig Hamilton. Back for one more go at the most elusive prize in running.

“Maybe his last chance as his great athletic career is closer to twilight than noon.

“Add in that his previous attempts all combined had not seen the good weather of a single day this year.

“He was not letting the opportunity get away. Even a major navigational error on the 5th loop did not rattle him.”

And that was echoed by Lewis who wrote on social media: “Greig is modest and prefers to fly under the radar. He is a World Champion of Rogaining and expert navigator… [he] has a witty sense of humor and is always cracking jokes. I really enjoyed our time together.

“I spent most of lap one with Greig and in the pack of 18 lead runners.

“Greig is quick going up the steep mountains but even faster descending gnarly terrain. His calf muscles are built like concrete blocks. He has the calf muscles of someone built 100 pounds heavier and he seems to thrive or revel on the steep inclines of 45 degrees.

“Greig was often first to discover books in our larger pack. When the group fanned out searching for a book early in loop 1, Greig was the one to go back to explore the cavity of a tree that had already been looked over by a handful of other runners, including myself. He was first to a few books like that. He was calm and would sit back for a second to think before hitting the probable location… this year seemed to be more intuitive for him as his third Barkley.”

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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