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On April 3, 2017, Gary Robbins came just a few miles short of logging an official finish at the Barkley Marathons, a notoriously difficult race that takes place in the briar-filled woods of Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.
Prior to this year, only 14 people had ever finished the race, which involves five 20-mile loops mostly off trail. The course is unmarked, and in order to prove completion of each loop, participants must tear a page from a series of hidden books. The five loops must be completed in under 60 hours.
Robbins had collected all the requisite book pages on his fifth and final lap, and was on his way back to the yellow gate that serves as the finish line, when he took a wrong turn. He ultimately arrived at the gate from the wrong direction, and his race was deemed a DNF.
Prior to the race, filmmaker and podcaster Ethan Newberry (aka “The Ginger Runner) had begun making a film about Robbins’ Barkley journey. The pair will debut the full film on a nationwide tour, the dates of which will be released at the end of this week.
In the mean time, this preview gives a glimpse into Robbin’s insane training in the months leading into Barkley.