(WBIR - Morgan County) Think about what you did between 6:48 a.m. Saturday and 4:38 p.m. Monday. There was plenty of college basketball, thousands of people in Knoxville ran a marathon on Sunday, and it was back to the daily grind for many with the start of a new workweek on Monday.
Now think about what Jared Campbell of Salt Lake City did during that same time span. He was the sole person to complete this year's Barkley Marathons in Morgan County. Campbell finished the sadistic 100-mile race up and down the steep cliffs of Frozen Head State Park in 57:50:20. To be clear, that is 57 hours, 50 minutes, and 20 seconds. The time limit for the race is 60 hours.
This is the second time Campbell has completed the Barkley Marathons. Campbell also finished in 2012. Monday he became the second two-time finisher in Barkley history. It marked only the 15th time the 100-mile course has been completed since the race was founded in the mid-1980s.
The annual race consists of five 20-mile loops with a cumulative climb of more than 60,000 feet on a course through thick brush and hardly any true trails. Campbell finished with a few bumps and bruises along with more than a bit of luck.
"At one point, I literally fell head over heels 25 feet," said Campbell. "I didn't break anything. I couldn't believe it."
Of the 40 runners chosen to participate in the Barkley this year, Campbell was the only runner to make it more than three loops. The event is full of some of the world's elite runners. Yet, time and again the Barkley lives up to the old nickname, "the race that eats its young."
"The steepness of the slopes and the trails that we go on, it was painfully brutal. I did not expect what was out there," said alpine runner Jamil Coury from Arizona, who completed three loops to qualify as a 'fun run' finisher of 60 miles within 40 hours. "I have a 'no quit' attitude when I do events. But I was trying to come up with every excuse in the book to stop. I knew it would be difficult, but you have no idea until you actually try it."
On Monday, Jared Campbell was the only person still running through the thorn-covered route that also goes through a tunnel beneath the closed Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Runners emerge from the tunnel and tear a page from a book located at the spot where James Earl Ray jumped over the stone wall during an escape in 1977. The Barkley Marathons mock Ray's futile effort to run through Frozen Head State Park after he only made it eight miles after running for two and a half days.
Ultimately, the race also mocks some of the best runners and mountain climbers in the world. Campbell said he benefited from training in Salt Lake City with snowy and slick conditions on the mountains.
"I end up running up and down the peaks, breaking trail and snow," said Campbell. "We go up and down Grandeur Peak in Utah. It's 3,400 feet of gain and I run it 12 times in one day. So that's about 40,000 feet in 22 to 23 hours."
Another main obstacle in the Barkley is running day and night with little to no sleep. Campbell only took a single one-hour nap during the entire run. He said this year he also had some training with sleep deprivation.
"We had our first child around three months ago, so the baby definitely will teach you how to deal with no sleep," joked Campbell.
The fact that he was the only person running the final 40 percent of the race was something Campbell was cognizant of as he kept pushing towards the finish line.
"You feel like you have a little bit of a duty to finish if you're the only one out there on loop four and five. It's kind of interesting thinking about everyone here (at the campground where the race is stationed). I guess I better drag my ass to the finish line," laughed Campbell.
The crowd of runners from across the globe waited at the campground for Campbell's arrival and gave him a rousing applause as he touched the gate at the end of the course and took a seat in a chair that awaited him.
"To anyone this sounds like an incredible feat. But to anyone who has actually been there, you realize how amazing this is. It is truly inspiring," said Gary Campbell, the founder and director of the Barkley Marathons. "All of the people who really know what it takes to do this already know he did it. The respect of your peers in sports is the biggest prize you get."
Campbell's performance definitely inspired respect after completing one of the most ridiculous races in the world.
"I mean it really is silly. But you have to get into that head space. You have to just make up your mind before that you're just going to go at all costs."
Reporter's Note: You can read more about the history of the Barkley Marathons, how the founder concocted the idea, and information on an upcoming movie about the race at the link to Friday's pre-race story, March 28, 2014 - Barkley Marathons humble world's best ultra-runners.