Barkley Marathons

Photo: Michael Doyle / Canadian Running Magazine.

Not quite a full-on Barkley Marathons but it’s a start.

The Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club hosted what they called the “Super Mini Itsy Bitsy Barkley,” a “more PG-13” version of the annual 100-mile-plus ultramarathon with a 60-hour time limit that takes place in the thick brush of Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. With Barkley Marathon race director Lazarus Lake on hand, North Vancouver, B.C.’s Lynn Headwaters Regional Park hosted 150 people, a sold-out field.

Gary Robbins, of Barkley Marathons fame, co-hosted the event along with Nathan Detroit Barrett and Dane Low, according to the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club website.

“The intention is to give people a little taste of what the Barkley might be like, without causing people to go missing in the woods or curl up in the fetal position after 60 hours wandering in the woods,” reads part of the mini Barkley’s description.

Rather than a mass start, like the Barkley and most other running events, the “Itsy Bitsy Barkley” staggered runners every minute and were sent off in opposite directions. Like the Barkley, a lighting of a cigarette marked the start of the event, the entry fee was $1.60 and runners collected pages out of books on an unmarked course to prove they followed the correct route, marked on a map, which participants had to copy onto their own maps from Lake’s master copy.

Lake, whose real name is Gary Cantrell, was in the area after joining Robbins and Ethan Newberry for the final screenings on the Where Dreams Go To Die film tour. Newberry directed the film chronicling Robbins and his two attempts at the Barkley.

Mini Itsy Bitsy Barkley.

A post shared by Reed Robbins (@robbinsreed) on

Registration for the event was straightforward, online to be specific, while registering for the actual Barkley Marathons, which takes place April Fools weekend every year, remains very much a mystery. The mini-Barkley course closed at noon PST after an 9-10:30 a.m. start, depending on one’s staggered slot.


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1 Comment

  • Jason says:

    Really like this concept for giving people a taste. Great idea and easy to see why it was a sell out, looks like there was a great community feel!

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