Home > Trail Running

John Kelly drops out of Barkley Marathons: “I was no longer having fun”

John Kelly, who finished the course successfully in 2017, was considered one of the strongest contenders this year

In a shocking turn of events, John Kelly, one of the favourites to complete this year’s Barkley Marathons, has “tapped” himself out after two loops. In regular English, that’s a DNF. 

RELATED: Barkley Marathons: no women left, Calmettes leads

Kelly was the first to appear back in camp after the second loop, with 21:02:54 on the clock. He went to take a nap, presumably before heading out onto loop three, but The Real Keith has tweeted that he decided he was finished, playing Taps on the bugle for himself.

Kelly tweeted a few minutes ago that he he simply decided to quit. Having finished the course in 2017 (the same year that Canadian Gary Robbins narrowly missed finishing), he says he knew “what 5 loops takes,” and realized he didn’t want it badly enough to go back into the forest, even for a third loop and possible Fun Run (three loops in under 40 hours). “… I was no longer having fun,” he wrote. “Sorry for any disappointment.”

RELATED: Gary Robbins and John Kelly go for a bromantic bike ride

Folks following the action on Twitter reacted with admiration and sympathy, as well as disappointment for Kelly. The race started in fine but very warm weather yesterday morning at 9:23 ET. Last evening the temperature plummeted and the rain began. Changeable and very localized weather may be the most reliable feature of the Barkley Marathons.

Kelly is a Washington, D.C.-area data scientist, ultrarunner and Ironman triathlete. He’s about to move his young family to London for a new job. He grew up partly in the area surrounding the Barkley course.

RELATED: How to crew for an ultrarunner, by a Barkley finisher

At last glance, Jamil Coury had joined Guillaume Calmettes and Greg Hamilton on the course for their third loop, as had Karel SabbeJohan Steene and Tomokazu Ihara had completed loop two, rested briefly and returned to the course for an attempted third loop.

Several runners remain on the course, but are now considered unlikely to complete three loops. Calmettes and Hamilton are likely the only remaining Fun Run contenders. 

Three-time finisher Jared Campbell DNF’d last night after one loop, having badly rolled his ankle on the first descent of loop one:



Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Father’s Day gift ideas for your favourite running dad

These apparel items, shoes and accessories make great gifts for the running dad in your life