Monday, December 24, 2012

The Barkley

In my last post, the 2013 Race Schedule, I wrote,
"There's a monster of a race that I'm toying with the idea of signing up for, and looking at the remaining lotteries and open registration dates, August and September are still a bit in flux." 
That "monster" is the Barkley. I was being coy, ambiguous on purpose, trying to drop a hint without actually coming out with it, and I don't really know why. This came up with a non-running friend tonight, after telling him about the "race" that "only 13 runners out of about 900 have finished within the 60-hour cutoff," and it prompted me to really try and figure this out.

I think I'm embarrassed, maybe even scared, to admit that I'm applying to this "race." With only 35 entrants per year, who am I to think that I should be selected to run the Barkley?

I say it on this blog all the time, that "I'm still trying to become a runner," and I'm absolutely not kidding. In no way, shape, or form do I have this running thing down pat. All my times are pedestrian, complete middle-of-the-pack times, and I'm learning new things ALL. THE. TIME. For instance, I just recently realized that I hadn't been using my glutes enough in my running to actually get anywhere "quickly." (Watch this fantastic instructional video on natural running by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, Director of the Natural Running Center.) It's insane how much I'm still probably doing wrong, but hey, I love learning about it.

So, why am I embarrassed about publicly admitting that I'm applying for the Barkley? Because the entrants to the Barkley are, for the most part, complete STUDS (or STUD'ettes), and I'm, well, me.

For example, past entrants of the Barkley include:

  • Brett Maune, current John Muir Trail FKT (Fastest Known Time), current Mount Whitney FKT, current Barkley CR (Course Record) holder, only ever 2-time Barkley finisher
  • Jared Campbell, 5th-ever finisher of Nolan's 14, 7-time Hardrock finisher (5 sub-30 hr finishes, first place 2010)
  • John Fegyveresi, Appalachian Trail, Pacific Coast Trail, Badwater finisher
  • Blake Wood, 17-time Hardrock finisher (first place 1999), 14:51 Rocky Racoon 100M, 2nd-ever Nolan's 14 finisher
  • David Horton, former Appalacian Trail FKT, Transcontinental Crossing, former Long Trail FKT, former Pacific Coast Trail FKT, 4-time Hardrock finisher (first place 1992, 1993), 17-time JFK finisher (first place 1995)
  • Cave Dog Ted Keizer, former Long Trail FKT, current Colorado 14ers speed record, numerous other Mountain speed records
  • Mike Tilden, 3-time Hardrock finisher, Badwater finisher, 1st-ever Nolan's 14 finisher
  • Jim Nelson, finished Nolan's 14 2:09 above 60-hr cutoff
  • Flyin' Brian Robinson, Hardrock finisher, first to hike Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails in same year
  • Andrew Thompson, former Appalachian Trail FKT
  • Johnathan Basham, former Colorado Trail FKT, Long Trail FKT, Hardrock finisher
  • Eric Clifton, 20-time JFK finisher (4-time winner), Badwater winner, 13:16 Rocky Raccoon 100M

And this is just a few! There's more. It's just completely sick.

Now, I don't consider myself in the same universe of athlete as these amazing people. Why on earth should Laz (Barkley's RD) let me into the Barkley? The simple answer is that, based on my bio, he shouldn't. As stated above, I'm a middle-of-the-pack runner. I've never gotten into, let alone finished Western States, HURT, or Hardrock (though not for lack of trying). I've never through-hiked a single trail (though I have a strong desire to take out the Superior Hiking Trail SOON). But I want the Barkley. I want it... badly.

Thoughts of the Barkley haunt my dreams. It’s consumed me. It terrifies me, and because of that, I need to do it. There’s this saying,
"We stopped checking for monsters under our beds when we realized they were inside us." 
The only way to stop this unending unease is to look under the bed and make the nightmare my reality. I'm not afraid of the dark, of the nightmares, of what's hiding under the bed, but maybe I should be.

Bukowski said that,
"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."
Consider my applying for the Barkley as doing my best.

I guess I've realized that it's not my job to question whether or not I should be selected to run. My only job is to apply.