Serious runners normally have some marathons which they plan to run, throughout their running career. Gary Robbins is no different here, as he has one marathon that he would dearly love to win.
To enter in the 60 hour marathon, runners must show that they have actually run parts of the course by completing a book, similar to a log book. Gary did that and after paying his $1.60 fee, he entered the race.
The race, held from 1986, and considered to be the toughest races in the world, has only been completed in under 60 hours by 15 other people. Gary had hoped to be the first Canadian to compete and win it.
After completing the pages of log-book, which is the maximum number accepted each year. Gary admits that as he was nearing the end of the race the fog came down. He also admits that he was exhausted and perhaps did not concentrate fully on the directions he took.
“As I went over the final bump on the course I knew I would hit a trail, go left, and run down into camp with maybe five minutes to spare, but the math added up, I was going to make it,” he said.
Most of the course is done over unmarked trails so it is easy to see why one could get disorientated and take a wrong turn. Adding fog and tiredness into the equation makes it something which may be easy to do.
The fog sent him off course by just a few degrees and instead of going towards the finish, Gary ended up further south. He realised that he would run out of time if he doubled back, so he pressed on, using his compass to keep him going towards the end.
“I thrashed my way to the road and put my head down and gutted out the hardest three minutes of my life to collapse at the gate, overtime, and from the wrong direction,” he wrote.
The new path sent him towards a five metre wide river, which was chest deep when he crossed it. As he approached the finish line, Gary gave it his all and crossed the line just six seconds after the 60 hour cutoff.
Unfortunately, even if he had made it, he would not have won because he went the wrong way. Gary sobbingly told his wife that he was devastated, especially as he had completed all his pages.
Only one runner, John Kelly, managed to finish the race in under 60 hours, and Gary -while being upset about his own mistake – took the time to congratulate the winner on a spectacular run. Kelly completed the race in 59.30 minutes, thus joining the very elite club of winners.
Gary says that he has no one else to blame but himself. It was an error which he made just two miles before the finish, and it was one which would haunt him for a long time.
“I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me,” he wrote.
Source: The Huffington Post