Tuesday, April 04, 2017

John Kelly and Gary Robbins Make Barkley Marathons History

The Barkley Marathons, notorious for being one of the most challenging ultramarathons in the world (and beautifully chronicled in the documentary, The Barkley Marathons - The Race That Eats Its Young), had two epic finishes this weekend for 2017. John Kelly became the only the 15th all-time finisher of all five 20-mile laps under the 60 hour cutoff, completing the 100 miles in 59:30:53. Gary Robbins finished in a heartbreaking 60:00:06, after taking a wrong turn in the fog with just two miles to go, resulting in him finishing the race in the wrong direction and just six seconds after the cut off. It was most certainly the closest finish in the history of the race.

Jamil Coury (who also competed in the Barkley this year), chronicled the finishes in this great video. An incredible nine minutes of film, capturing the shock and exhaustion from two extraordinary athletes. Truly amazing!


  1. Technically, Gary Robbins didn't finish 6 seconds over the cutoff. He took a wrong turn and went off-course, taking 2 miles off and finishing his loop from the wrong direction.

    Still, hats off to him for enduring as long as he did, and especially for having such a great attitude at the end.

    1. Exactly. My heart broke for him - but even he admitted he didn't finish the race.

  2. It’s interesting how often the compelling stories at ultra races are of the non-winners - Gary at Barkley this year (and last year, for that matter), Walmsley, Gunhild, and Wally at WSER, and many others. Gary has a great post explaining this year’s finish here: http://garyrobbinsrun.com/blog/2017/4/close-but-no-cigarette.


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