Barkley Marathons Entry Information:
Entering the Barkley is a little different than entering most ultramarathons. With only 35-40 slots available each year, and literally hundreds of applicants, the demand far exceeds the supply. Rather than distributing Entry Forms randomly, applicants request an entry form when entry opens, after which a drawing is held and entry forms are sent to those who are selected. It is advised that you submit your request promptly when entry opens, as there are generally too many requests to accept more within about 5 minutes of the opening of entry. As you will see in the following information, your entry request should include all possible data to improve your chances at gaining entry. Altho we refer to the request as an “essay on ‘Why I Should Be Allowed to Run the Barkley’”, it does not necessarily have to be in essay form. However, it will be the only thing we have to go by when we commence the drawings described below.
Field Selection: The Barkley is not intended to be the inaccessible realm of the elite, but rather to be open in such a way that any runner can aspire to face the challenges of this difficult race. The available slots are divided into blocks, and drawings are held for the applicants within each block.
A small block of slots are reserved for overseas runners. Recognizing that obtaining visa’s and other travel arrangements are more difficult for runners from other countries, the “overseas” slots may be requested a month in advance of the normal date that entry opens. They will then be filled on a first-come first-served basis.
The largest block of slots is reserved for the “elite” athletes. Elite at the Barkley does not necessarily relate only to having fast 100 mile times in other races, although that is certainly a primary consideration. Athletes from a variety of different backgrounds are considered for the elite slots. Adventure racers, multi-day bicyclists, orienteering specialists, mountain climbers, thru hikers, we will consider any endurance or outdoor related background in selecting those to draw for the elite slots. In submitting your request, it is a good idea to list any qualifications that you consider pertinent.
The smallest block of slots is reserved for race contributors. Individuals having made a significant contribution to the administration and development of the race receive slots each year. These slots are not applied for, but are distributed by the race management on a merit basis. Not every deserving individual will receive a slot every year, but those individuals will be entered as soon and as often as possible.
With the overseas, race staff, and elite slots filled, all remaining applicants are put in for one final drawing. This drawing is weighted. Every applicant gets their name put in the pool, regardless of qualifications. Additional chances are given for various qualifications. Previous experience at the Barkley nets an additional chance, as does each loop completed during those events. Elite qualifications garner additional chances. Race contributors garner additional chances, as do those who have given up a slot to a weight lister in past years. Even a particularly clever essay might gain a few extra opportunities. Some individuals might end up with their name in the hat as many as 8-10 times. The important thing to remember is, this is a drawing. Every year there are those whose name is only in the pool one time that get drawn. Likewise there are those with the maximum number of chances who still get missed. We do give additional chances for those who have previously been weight listed without getting in, as well as those who do not get drawn for the weight list. We do our best to get every possible person an opportunity to challenge the Barkley, if they only persist in trying to enter long enough.
The Weight List: After the field is drawn, those selected are notified individually, and given the opportunity to back out with honor. Once the notification of those unfortunate enough to be selected is done, all remaining applicants go thru one final drawing to determine the weight list. From the time the entrant list is finalized, those on it are pressed to withdraw at the earliest time that they are aware that they will be unable to attend. Those who surrender their slot for any reason (the most common are injuries, work, or family conflicts) in time for a weight lister to replace them, are guaranteed entry if possible, and at a minimum given additional chances in the following year. Any runner simply failing to show for the race is disqualified from future entry.
A total of 50 applicants are selected for the weight list. This is well over the record number of weight listers who have been called (35). However, some of the weight listers will have to defer, as they cannot make travel arrangements or obtain leave from work without ample notice. There is no penalty for those who are unable to hang on the weight list. In a normal year, somewhere around 10 runners will get in off the weight list. Typically, individuals who are able to wait until the very last on the weight list have the best chance of gaining entry, as injuries or family emergencies might not occur until the final days before the event, when many weight listers can no longer attend if called. The last few years, some of the high weight listers have attended the event, and gotten entry at the last possible moment. One year, an entrant called in because she was stranded in an airport due to her flight being cancelled (she did get to run eventually). Another year, the top weight-lister replaced a no-show (who, of course, will not be running The Barkley in future years).
Those who are still not chosen in the weight list drawing, known as the “weightless”, will also be given additional chances in future drawings.
Entry Fees: The application fee is $1.60 and is non-refundable (in case it is not obvious, we are in this for the money). Applications (and application fees) will be required of both weight listers and accepted runners (this comes to more than a hundred dollars!! (Even after incidental race expenses this is a huge windfall). For accepted runners the actual entry fee will vary. For virgins (those making their first attempt at the Barkley) the fee is a license plate from your home state or country. For veterans (those who have failed at the Barkley before) the entry fee is a pair of gold-toe dress socks (dark blue or black). For alumni (any of the 14 runners who have completed the Barkley) the entry fee is a pack of regular camel filter cigarettes. It is preferred that the entry fees & entry forms be submitted thru the mail prior to the actual event, except for the cigarettes from the alumni.