In Chapter 30 ("Barkley Philosophy") of Tales from Out There author "Frozen" Ed Furtaw describes what the Barkley means to him:
Since most runners finish most ultramarathons they start, they are using a measuring stick that is smaller than they are. But the Barkley is the biggest measuring stick known to running. To me that's intriguing, knowing I can't possibly finish those particularly hard 100 miles in 60 hours. But, I do know I can go there and run until I can't run anymore. Run myself out before I run out of race. To know I can attempt a challenge I can't conquer. Not everybody likes confronting their own limits and failing. Some people hate the Barkley because of that. But some people, like me, go back again and again.
The Massanutten Mountain Trails is a Big Stick too. By many standards MMT is among the 10 toughest races in the US. It's likely the hardest 100 mile run east of the Rockies (excluding the Barkley). A few days ago comrade Kate Abbott and I measured ourselves on it. We enjoyed 17.5 hours of Massanutten before DNF'ing at mile 53.6, Habron Gap. At times along the way it wasn't much fun. But it was good to do, and we're happy we did it. Kudos to the race organizers and props to all the participants! (race report to follow)
^z - 2010-05-18