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Utah runner shares rare insight into mysterious ultra marathons

A Utah man has once again finished one of the toughest races in the world. | KSTU via CNN Newsource
SALT LAKE CITY (KSTU) — A Utah man has once again finished one of the toughest races in the world.
The Barkley Marathons are more than 100 miles and elite runners have 60 hours to complete it.
Only 18 people have finished the event, and Utah’s Jared Campbell is one of them. He recently sat down with FOX 13’s Dan Evans to discuss this unusual race.
“It is for crazy people,” Campbell reflected.
Even the application process can be confusing. The only way to be selected for the 40-person race is to win specific races the prior year or know the right people.
“Yeah, I can’t reveal this on, you know, mainstream media here,” Campbell explained when asked about getting into the race. “I mean, you really need to be connected with somebody who understands the sport, and can kind of connect back to, you know, the few people that organize it.”
Lastly, you have to send in a $1.60 application fee.
The race itself starts secretly, in the Tennessee mountains an hour after a conch shell is blown.
“You don’t know when it starts, the course isn’t marked. And yet, it’s very important that you follow the course. There’s no crew, there’s no help. There’s no support,” Campbell said.
The race’s stopwatch starts with no sound and racers don’t even know the path before the race begins.
Competitors must find between 9 and 15 books along the course (the exact number varies each year) and remove the page corresponding to the runner’s race number from each book as proof of completion.
Competitors get a new race number, and thus a new page requirement, at the start of each lap.
Finally, the biggest obstacle for the runners to overcome is the actual mountains of Tennessee.
“You have to go really fast, which means you have to make good navigational decisions,” Campbell said. “Distance-wise, it’s not too different. But elevation gain, cumulative elevation gain, and descent. It’s much bigger than a normal race. It’s over 70,000 feet of ascent.”
The 100-mile race can take an extreme toll on your body.
“You sort of go in knowing that in the later stages of it, the last 20 or 30 hours…your body is pretty broken down,” Campbell said. “It’s almost impossible to avoid that. And so it becomes you kind of consciously go in knowing like, I’m really going to hurt at some point in this – then it becomes a mental challenge…can I come up with the reasons to push through that?”
A female athlete has never completed this brutal race, until this year, when Jasmin Paris from Scotland finished with just 99 seconds left.
“The women who have tried it in the past looked at Jasmine and have looked at Jasmine for the last few years and it’s like she’s got what it takes,” Campbell reflected.
On the last lap, the first few runners are given the option of choosing between two directions, one of which is an easier course.
Campbell was slightly ahead of Paris and had the choice of which route to take. He decided instead to give Paris the option to take the favorable direction.
“[It’s] this little tiny gesture I can make at this point that could be pretty important,” Jared reflected back on the moment.
Jasmin Paris recently posted on social media about finishing the race
“One week on, still feeling super happy! Thanks and respect to those I shared miles with on the trails, especially John, Damian, Ihor, Sebastian, Greg and Jared – you made the impossible possible.”
Campbell has now competed in his last ultra marathon as he wants to focus his time more on supporting his wife in her athletic achievements.
The post Utah runner shares rare insight into mysterious ultra marathons appeared first on East Idaho News.

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