Directed by Annika Iltis & Timothy Kane

USA / 2015

Created as a mockery of a historic prison escape, in 25 years, only 10 people have finished The Barkley Marathons. Every year 40 runners come from around the world to a small town in Tennessee to test their limits at a cult­like, quirky, and virtually impossible trail race. Through the competitors spectacular failures and unprecedented successes, this film contemplates the value of pain in a society that favors comfort.

LAZARUS LAKE (57), the co­founder of The Barkley has been running ultramarathons since the early 1970’s with his cigarette­laden southern drawl and sardonic wit. As the mastermind of this race, his mission is to keep The Barkley at the absolute limit of human potential. For Laz, there is no point in presenting a challenge that does not include the possibility of failure.

BRETT MAUNE (33), a physicist and past finisher, has his sights set on making history by beating the course’s speed record and becoming the first ever two­time finisher. However, the arrival of unseasonably hot weather and

Barkley “Virgin” JARED CAMPBELL (32), an engineer and top ultrarunner, may ruin his plans.

An unknown average runner and glaciologist who winters in Antarctica, JOHN FEGYVERESI (35) wants to outrun his past. After a harrowing string of tragedies, he upended his former mundane life and has spent the last 5 years trying to push himself and live life to its fullest.

With a secret application process, unknown start time, and a course that changes every year, Laz places hurdles to challenge these non­traditional athletes mentally as well as physically. The Barkley consists of 5 loops. To finish, runners must traverse 130 miles, 120,000 feet of elevation change, all within 60 hours. With only a map and compass on the unmarked and un­aided course, runners navigate their way through treacherous terrain to find hidden books as proof of following the route.

The Barkley Marathons


  • Co­Creator of The Barkley Marathons: Lazarus Lake
  • Editor: Mariana Blanco
  • Composer: Tyler Gibbons