BM 100 History – Mark Williams

Mark Williams ist der erste Läufer, der den Barkley 100 erfolgreich absolviert. Er hat dazu einen Bericht verfasst (piece of cake, trotz zwischenzeitlicher Halluzinationen):

Date: Sat, 8 Apr 1995 18:31:16 +0100
From: Mark Williams <>
Subject: Barkley For Breakfast


Lots of people (well one or two anyway) have asked me to post an account of the Barkley. So here goes. Sorry its so long (but it was a long race:-)

I flew into Knoxville on Wednesday, arriving at 10pm. I spent most of Thursday looking for supplies and Gaz before heading out to Frozen Head.

I met Teeter Benedetti on the campsite and got him really worried about me by not knowing what a switchback was, not knowing what sawbriers were and saying "oh my god" when he showed me the map we were supposed to use. He didnt let on though, and he gave me a really good description of the course.

I went off to see what the reconstituted rice pudding I had made (I _had_ hoped to find tinned rice pudding) would taste like. Not too bad. I went to bed. A couple of hours later I woke up feeling ill, and threw up the rice pudding. Oh well, I'd have to make do without during the race...

Next morning I met Craig Wilson and Phil Pierce. Phil was rushing around trying to calibrate his GPS - a magical device that would tell him where he was, where the next control was, how fast he was going (a bit too depressing on the Barkley), how high he was and generally supply any other navigational information you could dream up. Craig on the other hand admitted to owning a compass, but was not prepared to show it as it was (apparently) embarassingly low tech. Craig was also still waiting for confirmation of his place in the Barkley. He and I went to look at the Chimney top trail - the last few miles of the loop. We were both amazed at how good the trail was, and how shallow the gradient was (lots of long zigs). We did take rather a long time for an out and back of about 6 miles however...

We got back and went to find Gary. He was registering runners and selling T-shirts. I had a look at the shirts and asked if they didnt have one saying "I finished the Barkley 100". Gary said there wasnt much call for them. Some guy starts laughing. He turns out to be Matt Mahoney. At last I'd met the guy who trains for running on a beach by sanding his toes. Im still wondering if he trained for the sawbriers by whipping himself with barbed wire... Gary still wouldnt make a decision about Craig.

I spent most of the rest of the day eating pasta and making up five bags of food so I wouldnt have to sort out what I was taking at the start of each lap. The allocation for each lap was 3 100g packets of carbo drink powder (one to be mixed at the start of each lap, one for Coffin Springs, and one for Firetower), a couple of cheese sandwiches (to be eaten between laps), a few small chocolate bars and some trail mix.

Craig got into the race at about 8:30, and we agreed to run together for a while. Craig also thought it would be a good idea to follow Fred Pilon, since he knew the way. I spoke to Tom Possert later, who was also planning to do the 100. He said they would be running up Bird Mountain, to drop everyone, then ease off, and that Id be better off going with them because I wouldnt have to bother with the map. I thought about it, but my strategy is never to run anything at the start that I wouldnt try to run at the end.

Next morning, the race started at 7:00. Half the field was immediately disqualified for starting in front (about a foot) of the yellow gate. Craig and I settled in behind Fred and a couple of guys in shorts. Tom and a few others had gone on ahead. I was trying to follow our progress on the map, and seemed to be doing well until the turn off came just where I wasnt expecting it. Never mind. Goose caught us at the top, and we all headed off down to book 1, where we caught Milan (about 62 minutes for 3 miles).

By now I was getting more confident with the map. I followed our progress up Jury Ridge, down to Rayder Creek, up to an unnamed ridge... which had a sign on it saying Jury Ridge. What? I cant be that wrong. It cant have taken us an hour to do 3/4 mile and 900' of ascent! I gave up on the map (although I realised after the race that the Jury Ridge signpost was on the wrong ridge). Somewhere in this section the 3 leaders had gone wrong and at about this point they went past again. Following Fred had been a good idea. We reached book 2 in about 2:50 and the Coffin Springs water drop in 3 hours.

Fred had been increasing the pace, and now he took off with the 2 guys in shorts. Craig was still refilling his bottles so I set off to try and keep Fred in sight, hoping that Craig would be able to follow me. We caught them after a mile or so on the coal road, and made good progress to book 3. Fortunately Fred was awake, because Craig and I wern't even looking for it.

Straight after book 3 is Leonards Butt Slide. Leonard may have slid on his butt, but I found it was quicker to run down. From there it was an easy run down the New River to book 4, at the bottom of Hell.

Going up Hell I started to worry. I was starting to feel tired, and was sure I couldnt maintain the pace for long, but Fred guessed we were on schedule for about 10:30 for the loop. Since the night loops would be slower, and I was bound to slow down, that seemed to be about as slow as I could aford to go for the first loop. We pressed on, and picked up book 5 at the top of Hell.

The run down to book 6 is on a good road, but from there starts the ascent of Fire Tower through the Rats Jaw. Rats Jaw could have been bad, but the
sawbriers had been cut down. They had also been left lying around and had a tendency to wrap themselves around your legs. My custom made bramble bashers (the legs from a pair of denims sewn down the front of an extra large pair of running tights - thanks mom) gave almost total protection. The two guys in shorts were rapidly having their legs turned into raw meat - but somehow it didnt seem to bother them. We reached the Fire Tower and refilled our water bottles (or in my case my camel) at around 5hrs 10 mins.

The next section was new to everybody, and Fred started to slow down. He was still predicting a time of 9:40 to 10 hours for the loop so Craig and I pressed on. We found book 7 hidden in a rats nest with no problems.

The drop to book 8 was mostly off trail. We tried to follow Garys instructions but didnt see either of the trails we were supposed to cross and couldnt work out which of about 20 streams was the one we were looking for. It seemed like there wasnt a lot we could do wrong though so we just kept heading down, and eventually hit the stream junction we wanted, followed a trail for a while and collected our pages. By this time Fred had caught us again.

Gary's instructions from here say keep going up by the steepest route you can find, which is my kind of climb (none of this namby pamby switchback nonsense) and after a number of wild "it _must_ be just over the top of this next steep bit" guesses we got to the top and the last book. Fred had been catching us and dropping off all the way up, but had disappeared by this point. Craig and I set off down the Chimney Top trail. By this time we knew we were on for under 8:30 and relaxed. We also decided that since we were going so well we would take a 10 minute break instead of the 5 we had been planning on.

When we arrived back in the camp Tom and Heiki Ingstrom were still there, and because they hadnt checked in on arrival Craig and I went down as finishing the lap first in 8:02. Tom and Heiki set off just after we had checked in however, checking in and out at 8:03. We went back for a change of socks, picked up some warm clothes and our lights and had some food. Somehow the 10 minute stop became 30, and we set off just ahead of Fred. I had decided to eat plenty, to make up for the fast first loop, and had some Complan (usually given to invalids who cant eat solid food), a cheese sandwich, half a tin of pears and some defizzed coke. I set off with another cheese sandwich to eat going up Bird Mountain.

We made good progress up Bird Mountain, but it was a struggle to eat the sandwich. I should have realised I had eaten too much. We reached the top and I found it very hard to run down the other side. By book 1 (which we somehow reached faster than on lap 1) I seemed to be OK again, but I was struck by nausea going up Jury ridge. Craig very patiently slowed for me, but the next few hours were no fun at all. It got dark just before the Butt Slide, and we had a surprisingly uneventful treck through the night, with no serious navigational gaffs.

Back at the end of the lap, I needed some sleep, and Craig was happy to have a longer rest. I ate some corn flakes, another sandwich and got about 15mins sleep. By the time I'd sorted my gear we'd been stopped for an hour. We set off at 20:22.

Going up Jury Ridge Craig announced that he was definitely stopping after 3 loops (he'd been dithering all race), and that he was too knackered to keep up so I should go on. After some argument I agreed (I felt that I needed to get round in under 32 hours to have a chance at 5) and started to pull away. Some time after I realised that Craig was catching up again, and shortly after that he shot past. I didnt have the energy to chase him, but on the last climb up to book 2 I realised I was pulling him back. I caught him at Coffin Springs and we ran down the coal road for a while together. I started to feel good and pressed on to finish the loop in 31:02.

Phil Pierce had dropped out by this time (his GPS didnt work because the mountains hid the satellites or something), and he helped get me ready for loop 4. Teeter had also dropped out and promised to have a cup of tea waiting at the start of the loop. I should have got some sleep but I thought it was better to use the daylight for running, and then have a good sleep before loop 5. I also should have eaten something, but somehow I forgot. I did have some coke and some fruit juice, but nothing solid. To make matters worse, because I hadnt been eating much of my food out on the loops (just the three carbo drinks) I left most of it behind to save weight. I had a couple of cups of tea, and set off at about 31:30. Everyone told me I was making history. Some people were photographing history in the making. I couldnt beleive it.

By book 1 the lack of food was telling, and I'd gone through almost all the solid food I was carrying by book 2. Fortunately that seemed to do the trick, and I didnt seem to have any trouble with sugar levels for the rest of the loop. After dark though (around the Butt Slide again), I did start hallucinating quite badly, and practically falling asleep on my feet. I had to lie down on the trail 4 times setting my watch for 5 mins and trying to sleep, but eventually I got back at 4:06am - 45 hours and 6 minutes into the race. I had just taken 13:30 for a loop so I felt I needed 13 hours for the last loop. I had some food, set my watch to go off at 5:38, 5:39 and 5:40 and went to sleep. When I woke up it was light. I looked at my watch - 6:20. Oh sh*t. Craig had left a note on my car to wake him so he could help me get ready. I woke him. He and Phil packed my bag and filled my CamelBack while I was retaping my feet. They also made me some coffee and beans and I set off at 6:43 - 12:17 to go.

The loop went quite well to the bottom of Hell, where I realised I had about a mouthful of water left and it was getting seriously hot. I managed to struggle on to Firetower (on course for around 11 hours) and pick up some water, but the dehydration and lack of sleep was starting to tell. The descent from Indian Knob was somewhat erratic as I kept wandering left then right hoping to find a better route down (and knowing that there wasnt one) and for a while I thought it was all over. I picked up book 8 with 2:30 left but managed to push the climb and most of the descent until I knew I was there. Cliff Hoy was on the road below the campsite to cheer me on, which gave me enough of a lift to finish the loop at a run for a total time of 59:28.

Piece of cake:-)

The runners and supporters who were still there made me feel like a legend in my own lunchtime. Thanks guys you were terrific.

Id like to thank Gary Cantrell for putting on a great race, and everyone - especially Craig - who helped me during the run. And Teeter and his wife for looking after me and feeding me after the race.

Mark Williams<>