Friday, July 01, 2011

Barkley Marathons: "A colonoscopy gone wrong"
Like the quote? That was a lead-in from a 2010 runner at the Barkley Marathons, arguably the nation's toughest ultra.  Long time Barkley race promoter and UltraRunning magazine feature writer Gary Cantrell was a guest on and it was laughs and giggles all the way.

The show hosts seemed a bit intimidated by Cantrell's style.  For instance, when they asked him where runners might find information about entering his event, Cantrell replied, "ask around."  At the end of the show, the hosts ask each guest about their favorite beer.  Some may comment about pale ale or a specific brand.  Cantrell only paused and stated "cold."

You can listen to the podcast for additional entertainment.  But the episode did surprise me, as the hosts of had not heard of Cantrell, or the Barkley Marathons, prior to the podcast.  Maybe that's a California thing, but it begs the question:  Does the historical aspect of our sport have meaning?

I'm a professor at Appalachian State University.  We offer portal courses for students coming into our communication program, content that sets the foundation for future study.  Makes me wonder if master competitors should carry the flag high and push for more foundational teaching in ultrarunning.

Here's a few questions to fire off the first exam:

1) Who was Jim King?

2) Who was Steve Warshawer and what's he doing today?

3) Do you know what really happened between Ann Trason and the Tarahumara Indians when they raced for the lead at Leadville?

If anyone can answer the above, drop a comment and I'll feature you in an upcoming post.


  1. 3. Ann Trason was in the lead when I saw her at the bottom of Hope Pass coming into Twin Lakes in 1994. Later the first of 6 Tarahumara passed her and won, but I didn't see it happen because I was getting a ride back from Winfield, unable to make the return climb over Hope Pass because my lungs were full of water.

  2. Anonymous1:01 AM

    1. Jim King was a top ultrarunner, from California, back in the 1980s. As I recall, he won Western States multiple times back when WS was inadvertently only about 93 mile long.
    2. Steve Warshawer was another top ultrarunner back in the 1980s. I remember one string of about four ultras he won in the 1986-87 Southern Ultra Grand Prix Series, in which he ran three course records. Today, in his 50s, he lives on a ranch in New Mexico and still runs the occasional ultra, still at the top of his age group.
    3. Unlike Matt Mahoney, I wasn't there when Ann Trason and the Tarahumara raced at Leadville. However, that story is well-told in Born To Run. The Tarahumara seemed to regard Ann as a female witch. The fastest among the Tarahumara won the race against Ann in a course-record time that stood for many years.
    Regarding the other question you posed above, the historical aspect of our sport has meaning in two ways: 1. Without that history, the sport would not exist today and we would all be poorer for that. 2. To those of us who were part of that history, it has helped shape and define our lives, and we are the richer for that.
    Best regards,
    Frozen Ed Furtaw

  3. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Maybe their ignorance about the Barkley was part of the reason I got the following message when I googled

    The domain is for sale.

    A sign of the times: domains in foreclosure.

    Peter Fish

  4. With all due respect, you got the name of the site wrong...twice. It's
    In addition, the hosts (myself among them) had certainly heard of Barkley and Gary/Laz, but were asking questions to introduce others to his event(s).