Barkley Self-Evident Truths – Henry Speir

via Where Dreams Go To Die (2016-Apr-08) [A Mind Running Amuk]. A reminder that there is a deep tradition in this race that goes beyond that shown in the movie. It is apparent from this year’s Twitter stream that there is a clash of ‘what is’ and ‘what is expected’ versus a need for ‘entertainment’.

Barkley Self-Evident Truths – Henry Speir (@henryspeir)

#0 – You can’t learn if you listen with your mouth. (Mike Dobies)

#1 – You toe the line at the yellow gate with the training you have, not the training you wish you had.

#2 – Weather happens – the successful Barker wastes little time and energy on this and instead focuses on aspects within his control.

#3 – There are two ways of quitting at the Barkley: Direct and Indirect – Direct is the aspiring Barker declaring, regardless of reason, that they are unwilling to continue; Indirect is the lack of will to move at an appropriate pace so as to not timeout.

#4 – Manage your calorie intake; the successful Barker will not allow himself to even go into “mico-famine” – if you are near the end of a loop and need to eat, do so, don’t wait to get in camp. attrib: Andrew Thompson

#5 – One cannot make it far at the Barkley without above average hubris. However, hubris is also one of the leading causes of a Barkley attempt being cut short. The successful Barker is aware of, and will manage this.

#6 – There is no “wishing” at Barkley – there is “vision” and the steadfast will to then realize that vision.
Thompson corollary: Once the switch is flipped, it can’t be unflipped.

#7 – Go at a pace comfortable for *you*. If you plan on going with someone else, you are going at their pace, at some point this will be too fast. attrib: David Horton
Corollary: The virgin would be wise to seek a vet that is otherwise likely to move at a slower natural pace than them
(see self-evident truths #8, #9 and #5).

#8 – The most important decision the Barkley virgin can make is which veteran they will try to follow. Choose wisely. See: Barkley self-evident truth #7.

#9 – The Barkley virgin is a parasite and any self-respecting veteran will attempt to “scrape”(drop) them at some point. See: Barkley self-evident truth #8.

#10 – You will vastly increase your chances at success if you know where you are and are able to pick out where you are on the map at all times; keep track as you progress and make a mental note as you get to each book or pass significant terrain features. At some point, you are likely to find yourself alone – see: Barkley self-evident truth #9

#11 – While “Out There”, the ephemeral “Barkley Friendship” can be very fleeting, but also very useful. The successful Barker will immediately recognize when it is no longer useful and move on with haste. (be mindful, however, of Barkley self-evident truth #5)
Corollary: The successful Barker will instantly spot the mopey, blue, dead-weight Barker and put distance between them
before he is infected with negative, self-justifying talk about quitting.

#12 – All other things being equal, during the nighttime, the successful Barker will leverage pairing or teamwork possibilities with those around him. Being mindful, of course, of Barkley self-evident truth #11.
Corollary: The Barkley virgin is much less likely to be scraped at night. See: Barkley self-evident truth #9

#13 – While “Out There”, the course is in command; between loops, YOU are in command. The successful Barker will visualize, plan and parsimoniously manage every minute between loops. What you do or fail to do here could be the beginning of the end of your Barkly outing.

#14 – If you haven’t spent much time with a USGS 7.5 min topo quad and can’t tell the difference between a draw and a spur, go back, re-read and double down on Barkley self-evident truth #8

#15 – Ultrarunners: Realize that all that trail running training and experience you have is only tangentially useful at being successful at the Barkley. Furthermore, some of the experience and habits you’ve gained in this pursuit can even be somewhat counterproductive at the Barkley. That is not to say that it’s not useful at all; it’s just not as useful in preparing you for the Barkley as you likely assume it to be. See: Barkley self-evident truth #1
Corollary 1: “Mudder/Death/ToughGuy” type running events and experience are even more useless.
Corollary 2: The best comprehensive Barkley training is during the event itself; if you are in, keep moving forward —
your next chance is at minimum a year, but more likely more than a year away!

#16 – Knowledge and understanding of the actual Barkley course and how to navigate around it is fundamental to success and goes without saying; however, equally as important and useful, but often overlooked, is the “big picture” of the park, its features and how they are all interconnected and how the Barkley course fits and flows within/around the park. (attrib: Jonathan Basham; also: laz, Furtaw, others)

#17 – Implicit in your desire to enter the Barkley and being granted entry into the event is your steadfast commitment to self-extract and make your way back to camp on your own power, accept under the most extreme of circumstances. If you had the energy and fortitude to get out there, then you should be able to get back on your own…without bothering the locals, and bringing shame and disgrace to yourself and the Barkley. (partial attrib: “Pit Viper” circa 2007; others before and since) See: Barkley self-evident truth #16 and #10

every barker has self-extracted.
no matter how long it took.
altho some have hitch hiked back from some damned remote locations!

there is a certain pride that no one has had to be found and retrieved over all these years.
the weight of all the barkers who have precdeeded you
and all the barkers who hope to follow
is on your shoulders.

you got yourself out there.
you must get yourself back.


#18 – Navigating around the Barkley course is no doubt a challenge. However, the primary driver for causing the once aspiring Barker to quit is the cumulative effect of the brutal climbs and descents. See: Barkley self-evident truth #3

#19 – The Barkley is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. (inspiration attrib: Winston Churchill)

#20 – The Barkley is the ultimate revealer of truth. Most will find out that they are not as tough as they hoped they would be (or as most perceive them to be); a select few will become legends. All will be grateful and better for the experience.

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3 Responses to Barkley Self-Evident Truths – Henry Speir

  1. Nick’s Top Ten Strategies to become #15

    01. Know the region, get out to Barkley 1-2 weeks before and run every Jeep road, Fire road and trail possible. You should be an expert in that regions topography.
    02. Know how to orienteer. Spend time researching, reading, taking classes on using a map and compass. Barkley is at least 30% (likely more) orienteering skills.
    03. Practice steep uphill climbs while hiking, train at a level where your heart rate stays low and controlled.
    04. Train on running steep downhills and flat terrain after blasting your muscles from climbing. Many people forget but there is also 60,000ft of descent in Barkley, being a good downhill runner can make you a finisher.
    05. Eat and run with the next loop in mind, that means consistency. No one cares if you run you’re first loop in under ‘9hrs!’…what matters is whether or not you even made it to the third.
    06. Help others during the race, its good karma: a lost virgin, a confused veteran, a hungry runner, a cold runner or even just a kind word.
    07. Nutrition at Barkley is different than other races, you’re working for 60hrs not 24. That means your body is burning mostly fats and proteins so consume these and get used to running and training with them as fuel instead of carbohydrates. Eat and run with the next loop in mind.
    08. Master the power nap or a mediation technique! A well-rested mind and runner at Barkley is 100% stronger and faster than a runner and mind who has come in and out of the camp in under fifteen minutes. Remember your going for nearly 60hrs!!
    09. If you are even considering quitting the race, get the hell away from ‘convenient’ spots to quit. The more pain in the ass that you make quitting, the more likely you are to continue.
    10. Finally, be in a finisher’s mindset. When you read below how I survived loop 2, it wasn’t because of my gear or physical ability, it was because I was in the right mind-set.

  2. From Laz on why a GPS isn’t necessary during the Barkley

    as for tracking your heart rate,
    i will save you the trouble.
    you are going to redline….

    a lot.

    if the term “redline” is not part of your standard english vocabulary,
    picture the gauges on the dash of your automibile.
    the meaning of “redlining” should be obvious.

    let me explain:
    when the uphill slope gets over 30%
    most people have to redline their heart rate just to move.
    by the time it hits 40%
    everyone has to redline to move at all.

    30 and 40% grades are all over the barkley course.

    if your heart cant take a licking
    and keep on ticking
    you ought to give over your slot to a weight lister.
    because you will die out there.

  3. Pingback: This weeks links (2018-03-26) | Visible Procrastinations

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