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VIDEO: Michael Wardian gets lost on first loop, bows out of Barkley

Michael Wardian describes the series of events that led to him dropping out of the 2017 Barkley Marathons.

Michael Wardian

Last weekend, Michael Wardian ran a 2:29 indoor marathon in New York City in what was a tune-up for the Barkley Marathons. The man known for averaging 2:45 for seven marathons on seven continents in seven days was unable to make it to the second loop of the Barkley after getting lost early on in the race.

Wardian found all the necessary pages of books scattered along the course – a way for the race director to ensure that runners completed the correct route – but did not fulfill the requirements of completing the loop within the 12-hour window. The 42-year-old admitted that the race was even harder than he had envisioned citing fog early Saturday morning in Frozen Head State Park, Tenn. as a factor.

“It was crazy, I got lost,” he says. “I went the wrong way and couldn’t find where I was.”

As Wardian recounts the events in the video interview, everything went wrong before finding the second book. Wardian and another runner got separated from the lead pack at the bottom of a drainage ditch and made a navigational mistake that cost him the race. According to Wardian, he was one of the leading runners to the find the first book on course. “Finding that first book was one of the most exciting moments of my life,” he says.

Michael Wardian
Michael Wardian before the Barkley. Note that what he is holding is NOT the course map. Photo: Michael Doyle.

“I had a great time and would love to do it again if I get the opportunity,” he admits. Some were expecting the Hoka One One athlete to contend for the win, or to add his name to the list of 14 finishers who have completed the 100-plus-mile ultramarathon since 1986. He was arguably the fastest runner of the group with a 2:17:49 marathon lifetime best. His tendency to race almost on a weekly basis also had people confident that he would make it far into the race.

Wardian is expected to have a busy spring and summer and is slated to run the Boston Marathon on April 17.

Related Barkley Marathons coverage

Pre-race interview with Robbins
Pre-race photos
Photos from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary
Barkley Marathons historical timeline
Here’s how Gary Robbins fuelled between laps at the Barkley Marathons
Mike Wardian fails to complete a loop of the Barkley Marathons under time limit
Must-see on-course photos from loop four of the Barkley Marathons
VIDEO: In camp with Gary Robbins between loops at the Barkley Marathons

How to follow Canadian Running at the Barkley Marathons


2017 Barkley Marathons coverage brought to you by Salomon.