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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > April 2019 > OVER THE MOUNTAIN

OVER THE MOUNTAIN

INSPIRED BY A BREAK-OUT AT ONE OF THE TOUGHEST PRISONS IN THE USA, THE BARKLEY 100 IS FIVE MOUNTAINOUS LOOPS OF RUNNING HELL. BUT JONATHAN BASHAM WOULDN’T EVEN LET GHOSTS GET IN THE WAY OF WINNING

When the conch blows you know you’ve got precisely one hour to go before one of the hardest races of your life. The Barkley 100 is unconventional in most things, not least the way it begins.

Sixty minutes after the conch has sounded, race director, Gary Cantrell stands at the starting gate while the runners nervously line up, and casually lights a cigarette; a glowing Marlboro means go.

Frozen Head State Park sits near Wartburg, Tennessee, its most famous landmark is the maximum security prison, Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It sits on the horizon like a vulture waiting for some poor soul to die. James Earl Ray, the man who shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King, escaped from there and ran lost in the dense woods for 55 hours. In his dazed and terrified state, he only managed to flee eight miles in all that time. Gary Cantrell heard that story and thought he could have done better through the unforgiving Tennessee night and so the Barkley 100 was born.

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About Men's Running

I started running in the mid 1980s. Ask anyone around at the time and they’ll tell you it was the heyday of British middle and long distance running. I got swept along by the Coe versus Ovett battle of the Moscow Olympics and the then addition of Cram for LA in 1984. Britons ruled the world and I loved every second of the battles, the highs, the lows, the medals and the media. These guys were my inspiration and I wanted to be them. They were the reason I started running and it was no surprise that my chosen events were 800 and 1500m. That I was best at these was just an added bonus. There are so many influential figures in our brilliant sport. Some are well known, others less so. So we decided to choose our favourites so that you could also get a little sprinkling of inspiration. Whether it’s Dean Karnazes eating pizza by the roadside or Ron Hill running every day for more than 50 years, we know there’ll be something for everyone. Read and get inspired and hit the road for your next run!