A Race No One Can Finish

If you think running a marathon through trails is tough, think again. The Barkley Marathons, held in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee annually during the month of March, consists of a trail route 100 miles long.  It’s a marathon that only 8 participants have completed in the past 25 years!

The Barkley Marathons have changed their route, elevation and course throughout the park many times since its establishment in 1986, which leaves the selectively picked 35 participants each year running without any forewarning of what’s ahead. With no aid stations along the route, and the only directions being a map and a compass, it’s no surprise that less than one percent of participants have accomplished the 100 mile race.  The race is to be completed in 60 hours through Frozen Head Park. The Barkley Marathons are considered to be one of the most challenging ultra-marathons held in the United States and quite possibly even the world.

If you’re not quite up to the challenge of the Barkley 100 mile trail marathon, we understand. However, trail running in general can increase your risk for injury and foot complications if you aren’t mindful out on the trail. Podiatrist Harvey Danciger recommends these tips to ensure your trail running safety.

  • Choose your trails wisely. Pick your trails based on your fitness training level. If you’re a beginner, don’t expect to tackle a mountain on your first run. Stick to more flat trails until you build up your endurance for more challenging hilly trails.
  • Get the right footwear. Trail running shoes provide the traction and support needed to help keep your feet stable on uneven trail surfaces. Invest in a pair that fits your foot type and running style.
  • Pay attention. Keep your head up and your eyes straight ahead on the trail in front of you so you can watch for obstacles, such as roots or rocks, which may cause you to trip or misstep.
  • Think time, not distance. Trail running can double the normal amount of time it takes you to cover a mile due to the tough terrain. Consider the amount of time you want to be out running versus how many miles you want to cover.

By following these guidelines, you can keep your feet safe and build up your trail running endurance to possibly even take on the Barkley Marathon challenge! Are there any trail running tips you engage with? Please share by commenting below!


Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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