This was the first running of the Barkleys, back in the day when there were really only three loops and nobody came close to doing even that. That may seem like an obvious outcome in retrospect, but back then (and now) finding races that no one finished was challenging.

“So, 13 starters, no finishers, only one runner past 20 miles.
A rousing success all around. ”
Gary Cantrell

The only runner to finish two loops was Damon Douglas, and he was wildly off-route for a lot of the second lap.

Barker (Runner) Results & Reports

There were 13 starters in the 1986 Barkley, but no one seems to know who all of them were, so here’s what I could find for the March 1, 1986 race: no one finished. According to Gary’s race report, the event was mostly on trails, some of which were unmaintained, totaled roughly 50 miles and included 24,850′ of elevation gain and loss.

Times and runner names are from Frozen Ed‘s book, Tales from Out There. He has a great discussion about the rarity of no-finish races in several of the earlier chapters. Numbers at left do not indicate place or bib numbers, just the count of runners:

Victim L1 L2 L3 Other
1. Damon Douglas ? 17:08:48*
2. Tom Green < 9
3. Richard Green < 9
4. Ken McMaster ~ 9:30
5. Gary Cantrell 12:18 Race Report
6. Gary Buffington 12:18
7. Fred Pilon ? *
8. Doyle Carpenter ? *
13 Starters 6-8/13 0 -1 / ? 0/0 NA

(*) Indicates that racers were probably not fully on the intended course.

Quick Reference for 1986
  • March 1, 1986 @ TBD am
  • 25 cent application fee
  • 12 Starters
  • No finishers

1986 Barkley Report Selected Details

Ultra Running – “The “Trail” Wins the Barkley Marathons” by Gary Cantrell

Gary Cantrell’s race report from the first Barkley, as only he can tell it.

Now, of the original 13, only 3 of us remained. Intrepid Damon Douglas had discarded the original course layout and was running the sections in a different sequence in order to get off the North Section before dark. Gary Buffington and myself were struggling through the last few miles of lap one, just wanting to hit 20 miles and call it a day.

Related Barkley Background

Ultra Running History – “Barkley Marathons: The Early Years

Cool background on the race and Gary, including some years before the Barkleys.

Thirteen unlucky runners started that first year, including Cantrell. They paid the entry fee of 35 cents. Three runners arriving late, were the luckiest. During the first hour before dawn they went up the wrong mountain (Frozen Head) and soon were out. After 12.5 miles, the remaining eight started to tackle the very difficult North Section.

Note that Ed Furtaw shows the entry fee as 25 cents, not 35 cents in 1986, so not sure why the discrepancy.

Input Welcome

If you know of any more information about the 1986 Barkley, including who ran it or what they thought of it, let me know. In the meantime, checkout what happens in 1987.

If you don’t get some Barkley term reference, check out the Quick Reference guide.

Peace.