The Twilight Zone
You're running through another dimension–a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.
Illustration by Jeremy Collins
Andrew Thompson was on his way to becoming only the seventh runner to complete the Barkley 100-miler in its two-decade history. "I had 20 miles to go and plenty of time," recalls Thompson. "I was running well and feeling very good."
What was not to feel good about? A Barkley finish is a life-defining achievement for even the most elite runner. The Barkley staggers through the rugged Tennessee wilderness, and features over 60,000 feet of climbing—twice that of Colorado’s heinous Hardrock 100. Bushwhacking is frequent, brambles slice flesh, river crossings are dangerous and staying on course demands expert navigational skills.
But Thompson, 28 at the time of the race, knew he had the gusto to finish. He’s a blood-and-guts runner, trained on the craggy trails of his home state of New Hampshire, and has run some of the toughest trail races in the country. In the summer of 2005, he set the speed record for the Appalachian Trail, covering the 2,174 miles in 47 days and some change. Thompson had total confidence in his body.
What Thompson didn’t count on was his mind turning adversary.