This Is What the Saddest Man in America Looks Like

He just finished the Barkley Marathons — six seconds too late

April 5, 2017 9:00 am

There are few rules in the Barkley Marathons, quite possibly the most difficult endurance race in the United States, if not the entire world. But one of them states that a finisher must cross the line in 60 hours — or 216,000 seconds.

Gary Robbins finished in 216,006.

Those six seconds — .002778% of the time allotted for competitors to complete the race — represent a fraction of the time Robbins spent preparing, not to mention how long he’ll regret his finish. Robbins is far from the first to be bested by the 100-mile ultramarathon (only 15 people have completed the race since 1986, including John Kelly this year) and he won’t be last to fall short during the annual event, which is held in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee every March or April.

Inspired by MLK assassin James Earl Ray’s attempted prison break in the same area in 1977 — he was only able to traverse eight miles in 55 hours — Barkley creator Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell fashioned the race as a way to prove he could do better, and named it for his running partner, Barry Barkley.

Cantrell was at the finish line for this year’s race to meet Robbins and inform him of his fate.

“It’s a story for the ages,” Cantrell told Canadian Running Magazine of Robbins’s finish, which has since become a matter of some dispute. (It appears Robbins hit all the checkpoints, but may have inadvertently took a two-mile shortcut because of issues with fog.)

A documentary about the race, The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young, is on Netflix, and you can watch the trailer below. Or, if you’re insane, pony up $1.60 and attempt to register.

Images courtesy of Michael Doyle/Canadian Running Magazine

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