Gary Robbins has been on a social media hiatus since December, but today on Instagram he announced that he unfortunately won’t be lining up for the 2019 Barkley Marathons due to multiple stress fractures. 

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The latest injury update. Given that this occurred back in December, during my social media hiatus, most people are not up to speed on this one. I've only mentioned this on my Strava account, which is the one platform I continued to use without interruption. I have a new stress fracture that I'm currently working through. In December I was having a great training month, knocking out 100 mile training weeks and pushing forth towards my goal of a HURT 100 win in January. Throughout December I had some niggly issues with my hip but nothing I couldn't seemingly run and train through. On December 23rd this acceptable level of discomfort shot up to a level of pain to be concerned about. I knew something was wrong and had thought that I'd re-fractured my femoral head, which is what I dealt with in the spring and early summer. The following day, just to be sure, I ran 15 kilometers through this pain and by the end of it I knew something serious had happened. Every damn step was agony. Don't ask me about the rationale behind this, you either understand it or you don't. December 24th was the last time I was able to run a step. I missed a training day on Dec 25th, while dealing with the emotional turmoil of yet another setback, and then started in on bike specific training on Dec 26th. On January 10th I had an MRI and on the 11th I had a CT scan. Diagnosis, sacral stress fracture. Any research into this and you quickly see that it's not a fun injury and the timeline towards a full recovery is quite lengthy. The only good news from the MRI was that it showed that femoral head fracture (same side) had healed 100%. I also don't have any bone deficiency issues. It has taken a while to understand this but these two issues have most likely been caused by a neuroma in that foot (opposite to my foot I broke twice was back when). I acquired this neuroma at mile 90 of the HURT 100 in 2014 and have been struggling with it ever since. I have seen many specialists, had cortisone shots, orthotics, etc, etc. Nothing has helped other than running in a wide toebox shoe. The neuroma has a mind of its own though and it flares up from time to time. Continued in 1st comment below:

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He wrote on Monday, “On January 10th I had an MRI and on the 11th I had a CT scan. Diagnosis, sacral stress fracture. Any research into this and you quickly see that it’s not a fun injury and the timeline towards a full recovery is quite lengthy.”

He continued, “I have a follow up CT scan at the end of the month that will establish the continued path to a full recovery over the coming months. Yes I was on the Barkley starting list again this year. No I won’t be able to start the race this year and yes this is an incredibly difficult pill to swallow.”

Barkley Marathons
Photo: Howie Stern.

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Robbins has attempted the Barkley Marathon three times and fallen short on all three occasions. The race, which typically takes place in the last week of March or first week of April, is one of the most difficult trail races in the world. The Barkley gives a small field of runners 60 hours to try and finish five 20-mile loops through mountainous and challenging terrain, while using their orienteering skills to navigate the course, which is not marked. In more than 30 years, just 15 people have finished the race.

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