Every year in the early Spring, exact date unknown until near the end of winter, ultra running eyes turn toward eastern Tennessee and the Barkley Marathons. Who’s running this year? Do they have a chance? Will anyone finish the Fun Run, let alone the whole race, and could it be a woman this time? So many questions.

As the Barkleys approach each year, I flip through Ed’s book and browse Matt’s website, looking for hints about what’s to come by studying what came before. Who’s been Out There, and where did they the come from? How could they have finished the hardest race ever held in Frozen Head State Park (and possibly the world)? Those questions have answers.

This post is meant as a quick and annually updated summary of all past Barkley finishes and finishers; just a quick reference look at those who’ve been past the Yellow Gate and back again, sometimes for than once. Enjoy.

Barkley Marathons Finishes…or Not

Here are the fastest Fun Run finish and overall race winner times for every year of the Big Barkley. As time goes on, the table will link to race summaries for each year and brief bios of each of the speediest runners. All data is from Ed’s book, Matt’s site, ultra signup and other sites. As you might suspect, “Starters” is the most suspect number, and is probably wrong most of the time.

Year Starters Fun Run
(3 Loops)
Best
Time
Finishes
(5 Loops)
Winning
Time
Comments
1986 13 NA NA
1987 16 NA NA
1988 19 1 Furtaw
32:14:50
NA NA 1st FR
1989 14
1990 29 5 Horton
26:22:39
1991 37 10 Herr
25:53:13
1992 20 2 Robison
28:01:36
1993 32 11 Pilon
26:55:236
1994 34 1 Horton
23:49:40
1995 39 6 Possert
28:52:57
1 Williams
59:28:48
1st Finish
1996 34 2 Wilson
34:58:48
1997 31 3 * Dobies
38:38:52
1998 35 5 Horton
30:23:00
1999 33 3 Wood
33:19:46
2000 35 7 Wood
31:00:29
2001 35 10 Horton
31:18:12
2 * Horton
58:21:00
DQ Mess
2002 NA NA NA NA NA No Race
2003 33 3 Keizer
32:15:51
1 Keizer
56:57:52
2004 32 7 Horton
30:57:09
2 Tilden
57:25:18
2005 33 2 Nelson
32:48:53
2006 33
2007 35 4 Robinson
31:21:31
2008 35 7 Robinson
29:59:49
1 Robinson
55:42:27
2009 40 3 Thompson
30:51:33
1 Thompson
57:37:19
2010 27+ 3 Basham
32:24:37
1 Basham
59:18:44
2011 26+ 9 Maune
31:51:28
1 Maune
57:13:33
2012 33+ 8 Maune
29:01:07
3 Maune
52:03:08
2013 40 5 Hollon
32:56:15
2 Hollon
57:39:24
2014 41 5 Campbell
30:23:26
1 Campbell
57:53:20
2015 40 2 Coury
32:57:08
2016 40 8 Campbell
31:27:16
1 Campbell
59:32:30
3x Finisher
2017 40 6 Kelly
32:58:49
1 Kelly
59:30:53
Gary!!!
2018 44 1 Robbins
36:12:54
Totals 1,018+ 139? Horton
23:49:40
18 Maune
52:03:08
Selected Finishes Notes

Starters, Fun Runs and Finisher totals are NOT uniques; they are gross totals. So, while there have been 18 total finishes of the Barkley, there have only been 15 unique individual finishers.

1988. Two racers were disqualified for short-cutting loops.

2001. Both finishers were technically supposed to be DQ’d for accidentally using an old and specifically prohibited part of the course, but they appear in stats as “unofficial” finishers. Sure, it’s confusing, but it’s the Barkleys. Easy is for Western States.

2008. Brian Robinson sets a Course Record that holds for four years.

Starting in the dark at 6:06am [On Loop 5], I decided to do Loop 5 clockwise. The first navigational challenges are farther out and easier to solve in that direction. I also find that the North Boundary Trail is best to do when fresh. It’s possible to really cruise on it. Marching up and down Zip Line and Big Hell is slow no matter what. – Brian Robinson

2012. The year of three finishes and a new, amazing course record by Brett Maune.

The goal this time around was to try and break Flyin‟ Brian‟s course record. To do this my training objective was to achieve a level of fitness such that I could theoretically break the record even if Laz implemented a nightmare course change which increased loop time by 10%. Given the unpredictability of the Barkley I desperately wanted to have as much of a “fitness cushion” as possible. – Brett Maune

Barkley Marathons Finishers

Whether you think the number is 15 (as of 2018) or 13 (excluding the controversial 2001 finishers), there sure aren’t a whole lot. It takes a special kind of crazy to finish the Barkleys, and at least two alumni–Campbell and Maune–have done it multiple times. That’s exponential crazy, crazy turned to eleven, plaid crazy with briars on top. It’s also hell’a impressive.

I’ve included Ed Furtaw as the Zeroth finisher, because he was the first to finish the Fun Run, ever, and that made the full five loops seem possible. Without Ed’s first-ever finish of three loops, the five loop total would have seemed impossible in 1989 and possibly for many years thereafter. But he’s not included in the totals.

Year (#) Name Time Notes
1988 0. Ed Furtaw NA 1st Fun Run
1995 1. Mark Williams 59:28:48 CR
2001 2. David Horton * 58:21:00 CR
3. Blake Wood * 58:21:01
2003 4. Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer 56:57:52 CR
2004 5. Mike Tilden 57:25:18
6. Jim Nelson 57:28:25
2008 7. Brian Robinson 55:42:27 CR
2009 8. Andrew Thompson 57:37:19
2010 9. Jonathan Basham 59:18:44
2011 10. Brett Maune (1) 57:13:33
2012 11. Brett Maune (2) 52:03:08 CR
12. Jared Campbell (1) 56:00:16
13. John Fegyveresi 59:41:21 SKT
2013 14. Nick Hollon 57:39:24
15. Travis Wildeboer 58:41:45
2014 16. Jared Campbell (2) 57:53:20
2016 17. Jared Campbell (3) 59:32:30
2017 18. John Kelly 59:30:53
Totals 15 Unique Finishers 18 Finishes
Selected FinisheR Notes

John’s got the SKT (Slowest Known Time) just because it’s funny. At least someone might break that record someday soon. But will anyone beat Brett Maune’s FKT anytime as in ever? I have no idea.

When Will a Woman Finish?

Soon, I hope. I think John Kelly’s essay on the subject is the best analysis I’ve seen. There’s no reason a woman can’t finish, other than it just being hard. Weather and circumstances permitting, it’s inevitable.

Input Welcome

As always, if you have questions for see room for improvement, let me know in the comments below. If you’re curious about Barkley terminology, check out the Quick Reference guide. See you Out There.

Peace.