Three finishers at Barkley Marathons for the second time in race history
Four set out on loop number five of the iconic Barkley Marathons and three returned to complete the race. It's only the second time in the race's history that three people have finished. The first time was in 2012.
Aurelian Sanchez was the first back to Frozen Head at a time of 58:23:12 followed shortly thereafter by two-time finisher John Kelly at 58:42:23 and Karel Sabbe made it back just in the nick of time at 59:53:33.
In an emotional display, the Belgian runner Sabbe nearly collapsed from exhaustion at the finish line in complete darkness but not forgetting to hand his pages in to officially finish his Barkley.
There hasn't been a race finisher since Kelly did it back in 2017, and there have been multiple finishers at the Barkley Marathons on just four prior occasions.
British runner Damian Hall was the fourth of a record number of runners to set out on the final loop, but got lost out on the route and returned to camp having dropped out of the race.
Fellow Brit Jasmin Paris was vying to become the first female finisher at Barkley but she did not complete loop four in the required time and was eliminated from the race. She is the second one to race into the fourth loop joining American runner Sue Johnston, and the first to actually complete loop four, even though it was after the allotted time.
Sanchez was the first back to camp after completing loop five, but not without a bit of drama. As reported by Keith Dunn, apparently a hiker out on the course inadvertently snatched the book from which Sanchez need a page to complete his loop. Luckily, the French runner had another waiting for him at the finish line as he completed the race.
Kelly, who failed to finish the race in 2015 and 2016 before finishing in 2017, became just the third person to finish the Barkley on multiple occasions.
Sabbe got a bit of redemption by completing the race this year, after having failed to complete loop four last year.
Earlier in the race, director Laz Lake mused that perhaps the race wasn't tough enough, given the record number of competitors to set out on the final loop. But, most chalk it up to the rather serene weather in comparison to previous cold and wet sessions.
But, Lake will probably still take the opportunity to make one of the world's toughest races even harder next year. Stay tuned.