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Have You Seen This? Runner finishes 100-mile race 6 seconds too late

Posted April 6

TENNESSEE — Runners are crazy people.

They say there’s such a thing as a runner’s high, but I also used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and that adulthood would be fun, so joke’s on me. I’ve run two half marathons, and the only fun thing about running is when you get to the finish line and can stuff your face with carbs and take the world’s most satisfying nap.

But people do love it, and endurance runners all over the world sign up to register for the Barkley Marathons every year — a 100-mile race through the woods of Tennessee that must be completed in 60 hours. There are 40 available runner spots that open up every year, though the actual date and requirements of the race are often kept secret, and include quirky provisions like a $1.60 registration fee and submission of an essay that says why you should be accepted. Those who are accepted get a “letter of condolence,” so you know the organizers have a sick sense of humor.

The race had its inaugural run in 1986, and no one finished until 1995. As of this week, a total of 15 people have finished the race on time.

For the 2017 race, endurance runner Gary Robbins made his second attempt to complete the five 20-mile loops in the allotted 60 sleepless hours. He and eventual finisher John Kelly ran the route together until the fifth and final loop, and that’s when things went wrong for Gary.

Some fog and confusion set in on his final 20 miles that he had to go alone.

Here’s what Robbins had to say on his blog about the moment when he realized he’d gotten lost and wasn’t going to finish on time:

“I ripped open my map and the gravity of things hit me. I did not have enough time left to correct my mistake by going up and over the mountain again. If I did this I would have finished in maybe 60:05 and I would not be an official Barkley Marathons finisher. Here's the thing though, that's exactly what I should have done, and the one regret I have after now sleeping is not doing just that.”

Robbins got to the finish line — a metal, yellow gate — six seconds past the allotted time.

The video of his finish is heartbreaking, though he had a lot of kudos to give to the race’s finisher John Kelly, who completed the race for the first time in three attempts.

“John Kelly is the 15th person to ever finish The Barkley Marathons,” Robbins writes. “John Kelly deserves more congrats and recognition than I do right now. Please take a second to properly congratulate him on his phenomenal accomplishment.”

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