Barkley FAQ

How do I enter the Barkley?

The entry procedure is secret. There is no official website. This is not the official website. This site mostly has pointers back here. The race is not listed on any calendar. You have to email the race director on a certain day of the year. The race will fill up on that day. In 2010 there were about 200 entries and 35 were accepted.

Who is the race director? What is the email address? What day?

You have to ask someone who has run it before. (It is not me).

Where can I get an entry form?

You will receive one after your entry is accepted.

What is the entry fee?

For virgins: $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and an essay on "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkley".

What day will the race be held?

You will be told after your entry is accepted.

What time will it start?

One hour after the conch shell is blown in camp.

What are my odds of getting in?

The entry list and ordered weight list gives preference to those who have a good chance of finishing the race. Nobody has a good chance of finishing the race. One spot is allocated for a sacrificial virgin. That is probably your best hope.

Where can I get a map of the course?

At park headquarters. However it will not be marked with the route. You will have to mark it yourself from the master map that will be available the day before the race. Nobody will have seen the map before that day. The route is different every year.

Can I train on the course?

You are only allowed to train on the marked trails. Most of the course is not on marked trails. Besides, you won't even know what the course is until the day before. By then it is kind of late for training.

What changes are there for this year?

From the race director:

i have good news,
and i have bad news.

problem is, i am not sure which is which.

good or bad? the bad thing is in.
if i cant do it myself, i wouldnt make you do it.

good or bad? one stretch of 0.88 miles took me 2 hours.
and it only climbed 1600 feet.

good or bad? the young fast guy did that 0.88 miles in just 45 minutes.
so it must not be too bad?

we met our guides early this morning,
drove as far as possible towards the bad thing
then we started to hike.
altho it was overcast, it was cool and rainless.
a perfect day.

we started out, at the point where we will leave the old loop, 
the way we will follow the course in the clockwise direction...
going down the major nasty hill that ya'll will climb on loops 3 & 4 
(and possibly 5).
altho it was steep & briery, the briers werent as bad as we feared.
our guides were genuine mountain men
and we got down in no time, hardly noticing the steepness
as we were spellbound by their fascinating tales of the mountains 
and the area.
some of their families had lived in what is now frozen head state park
and we learned more local history today than i had learned hiking up 
there since the early 70's.

then we came to the crossover.
all i can say is it was like nothing we have ever done in any barkley.
we were unanimous that it was the coolest thing we've ever done.
stu gleman took some pictures, and if he sends them to me i will post 
them to the list. at least those with no clear identifying features.
then we came to the uphill portion.
by this point, the cloud cover had descended to about 300 feet over our 
heads, and the mountain simply disappeared into the mist.
fabulous... barkley fog!!

the leader asked me then; "exactly where do you want to come out?"
we told him, and off we went.
the first pitch reminded me of the first pitch on little hell for those who 
remember it (and if you ever did it, you remember it well) except twice as long. it hurt.
then we came to a razor blade of a ridge that connected the first pitch to another ridge.
looking around, we realized that if one did not go up at exactly that point, climbing the 
hill would be virtually impossible. i have never seen such steep slopes. i committed 
every step to memory, for what will be a critical section of the instructions.
after that, we were swallowed up in the fog. and it started to rain.
it was like big hell, only worse. pitches so steep that i nearly pissed my pants 
when i looked back. places where i was reduced to crawling on all fours.
our guides loped up the hill like deer, trailing plumes of cigarette smoke.
and every steep pitch we topped just took us to another.

in almost no time (2 hours) we came to a wall of rock marking the top of the hill, 
which we zipped right up...
by crawling up a dirt filled gap with a slope of only about 75%.

and, i will be damned if we werent EXACTLY where we had asked to go.
the point where we rejoin the old loop.

it was magnificent.

i wasnt especially looking forward to the walk back, as it would seem that the 
easiest way was by the old barkley route. not as bad as what we had just done, 
but plenty bad enough. i mean, it is barkley loop... if you know what i mean?

however, porky suggested; "lets go back the 'easy' way."

we started along the barkley trail and then suddenly just plunged off the side 
into nothingness. except in just a few minutes we came to an old jeep road. we 
followed that for a while, and then just dropped off the side again. this pattern 
went on for a long time, as we made our way thru a maze of jeep roads, deer trails, 
and ruins, with our guides unerringly tracing their route without hesitation. they 
were incredible. 
and we saw potential barkley course changes enough to hold us for years.
after all these years, i couldnt believe all the new stuff there is still 
left to see... out there.
at last, we came to the bottom of yet another horrifyingly steep drop, and we 
were exactly where we had started. dam those guys were good.

so there you have it.
we did it, and the new loop is set.
on the one hand, despite the "shortcut" i just dont think people will be doing 
loops faster than before.
on the other hand, i cant help but think ya'll will come out of the experience with 
the same sense of the day that we did.
this is the coolest trail on earth. i have never done anything to compare with it.

still and all. there is definitely a bad thing waiting for ya'll out in the woods. 
this would be a good time to offer up your slot to some poor sucker on the weight 
list. because this barkley is going to squash the runners like so many bugs.

at the end of razor ridge

if you cant find this spot, your trip up bad thing will be very nasty.

rest break on the bad thing (shoot me now!)

the prettiest sight during the crossover

a light at the end of the tunnel is welcome,
whether it is an oncoming train or not.

for those indulging in map studies to figure out the route change; have you considered every possibility for getting from one side of a mountain to another?

please tell me you know the way

because i really dont want to take a wrong turn down here.

"i would carry a stick...

there are rats the size of possums down there...
but at least you arent going in the summer. i've seen rattlesnakes down there as big around as my arm."

4-wheel drive

unfortunately, we couldnt take pictures in the hard places,
so this will have to do.

none shall pass

cerebrus & trainee at the entrance to the bad thing.

upper body strength?

it was recommended that i enquire as to your ability to lower yourself (or haul yourself up) on a rope?

new book location

danger dave says the old holler trees are too hard to locate. they ought to be able to spot this one from way off.