Many years ago, Brian and I were on the way home from some trail race somewhere, and were tossing ideas around. The Barkley Marathon had recently been ran, and somehow the idea of having a race at Turkey Mountain so hard that no one could finish it seemed intriguing. The depravity had began.We have shamelessly copied and modified the format of the infamous Barkley Marathon, a 100 mile race where there are several books hidden in the rugged mountainous wilderness that serve as checkpoints. Runners must tear out the page in each book that corresponds with their race number to prove they went the route and distance. This race is so hard, that most years there are NO FINISHERS. I like that!! The race is comprised of 5-20 mile loops with nearly 12,000 feet of elevation change per loop. A 60 mile fun run is also on the slate, and few even make it that far. Our Barkley Book Fair has a slightly higher finishing rate. Our run consists of two separate races. the day run begins at 6:00 to 6:30--whenever the RD gets the whim to send the runners off. It is ~4.5 miles long, and only has one hill--one BAD hill that is. The course will be adequately marked, and those wanting to run it like a race are welcome to do so. Those wanting to take it slower and enjoy the ride, are encouraged to do just that. Take pictures, have some fun, stay hydrated. Along the way, there will be 5-6 books planted--semi hidden, but they will not require any digging tools, ropes, or scuba gear to find. For some, this will be trailz where you run all the time anyway. But for some who are newer to Turkey Mountain, the day race will be the hardest thing you have ever done. And since I have a sick since of humor, the book titles have a demented relation to the adventure, excitement, and torment you endure while traipsing through the woods. Find all the books and make it back to the finish line, and you are an official finisher. Miss a book, and you're a DNF.
After the day runners are through, the night runners are sent off. While the day course has stayed basically the same each year, the night course is different every year. Some years, the course has been marked heavily with ribbons. Some years, I relied on signs and arrows. In the last running, there were very few markings but maps and written directions were issued. It seems to me--the harder I make the course, the more fun people have?!?!? To be sure, there will be some major climbs For sure, someone will get a few ticks. A bit of rock climbing may be in order. If these particular climbs are really tough, I'll have some ropes to assist you in getting to the top. It is highly likely you'll visit one or two (or three) caves along the way. Maps will be issued and the book locations will be marked on the maps. Once you are close, there will be some sort of lure to get you to the books. There will be a suggested route, but since you will have a map with locations of all the books, the route you decide to take as a NIGHT RUNNER is up to you. I do REQUIRE you to stay in groups, carry a water bottle or hydration pack, a headlamp or flashlight, and for each group to carry a cell phone. Nearly every year, someone has got lost and with a call, I can get you back on track. While this is not the course elevation of this years race, it is a good indicator of what it COULD BE. If I can manage to throw in a few more wicked spikes o that elevation chart--well--you know. Every year, there has been some sort of quirky twist to the course. If I can get you turned around, I'll think I've done a good job.
The race is free. There are no entry fees, no t-shirts, no medals, no belt buckles, no post-race massage, and no whining. You can expect great refreshments at the finish line, one aid station on the course for the day runners, and two aid stations somewhere for the night runners.
Please RSVP, email me, Facebook me, text me, call me, write me a note on my driveway with a piece of chalk. I need a rough head count so I have enough race numbers and enough aid station grub for everyone. (There will be a coffee can/Tupperware canister/wal-mart sack, or something for donations is anyone would like to kick in a buck or two to help with the aid station food. Put this on your calendar--it's a run you'll never forget.