Why I Should Be Allowed To Run the Barkley Marathons

Note: The author has no intentions of running the Barkley Marathons this year. It was written as a writing exercise.
Also keeping in tradition with the Barkley, the author doesn't disclose anything specific about the event. The Barkley essay is a well-known phenomenon.


Dear Laz,

In over 30 years of Barkley applications, in terms of sheer lack of achievements in the field of athletics, my application would stand-out. There was Ted Keizer in 2003, who had no ultramarathoning experience, but he was one of the best outdoor adventurers "out there" and that showed as he knocked off the 100-mile finish that year.
Compare and contrast to all other applicants you have, I have a very small athletic CV: I have done 4 Ultramarathons, out of which 1 was a part of a triathlon, I have been running for almost 6 years(and yet my legs aren't that tired) and a major chunk of that period was consumed by a cruel mistress, called Triathlon.
As for my navigational skills, I got lost on marked roads, while driving, on my way to my 1st date with my girlfriend. Since then, I have learnt not to get lost by going out on trails and finding my way back but then the Frozen Head State Park is a different beast altogether, which has consumed even the most elite among the elites.
But being an Engineer, data analysis comes naturally to me and I have done my research to conclude that you don't really need to be an elite to finish the Barkley. Instead you need some other qualities, which I think I possess and I would like to elucidate them :

1. The Sisyphus Analogy: My life, even though I am grateful for it, has been akin Sisyphus and his rock. I roll the rock up to the top of the mountain and it rolls back down and keep doing it over and over and over again.

I started off a swimmer, made inroads and then the rock rolled down and took me to a path where I didn't really intend to be. Not that I'm not grateful that I am an Engineer, while rolling the rock up, I had a stern resentment towards it, which resulted in a lack of will, lack of effort and that's the perfect recipe for failure.

And then I started running, made inroads and again the rock went down. And there was a lot of misguided lights along the way which made me disillusioned. It took me a long time realise what really mattered.

And then halfway up the mountain, the rock rolled back again. Hitting me quite badly this time. I was pushed out of a job on the basis of reasons I am ashamed to disclose, because I don't want to be another story in this political climate of hatred. And because I was not in my country, away from my family, a lot of things transpired back home which just resulted me almost breaking down.

Not only did the rolling rock made my life a living hell, it made insecure and led me to a point of exit.

And then I realised how lucky I was to have that rock in my life. Everytime I got hurt, my eyes would close in fear and I would begin pushing again, not really knowing what lies on the other side of that fear. This final blow(I'm sure it is not final, but for all intensive purposes it refers to the termination of my insecure relationship with fear), taught me that I am losing out on life because of that fear. I am not taking steps, I am not doing things fearing the outcome but I don't care anymore. Let it roll again, if my life is like Sisyphus and I am doomed to push that rock over and over again, then i'm going to enjoy the hell out of this process.

2. Greatest Survival Skill: I've been in over my head my times in 27 years of my existence. I've shown up to the greatest competitive exams in my life, having not studied at all but the way I showed up to those exams, made even the people who have studied 10 years for it stagger in their steps.
I've gone to races(mostly prepared except the Triathlons) and the confidence I've had at the start line, defies even the Pros.

All this is due to this great delusion I have in my mind, called "Optimism". I can be in the middle of the ocean on a sinking ship, but until I am dead and buried under the shipwreck and every part of me dismembered, I would have the hope that I would survive.

I know, it is crazy but I like to raise my glass(of beetroot juice) to despair and then drown it in it. It's not like the down moments don't get me down, but they never get me out.

3. I'm not that wealthy and I'm an Engineer: When I was making money, I chose to do a sport like Triathlon and with whatever that was left, I decided to move to Switzerland to pursue my Masters. Which is perfectly fine for me and my austere running lifestyle but it's a little over budget to register for races in this commercial climate where the race directors have lost touch with the true reason why we run and are more interested in filling their coffers.

Oh and did I mention, I am an Engineer and am good at maths(or as you Americans call it, math) and data analytics?

Other factors include my ability to laugh at myself and my suffering, my willingness and physical ability to torture myself and then some & I can run/climb a fair bit.

So, with a $1.60 registration fee and map reading skills, when I am sitting laughing hysterically at my hallucinations, you can trust me to find my out there, staggering on my brier-cut legs, endlessly optimistic about collecting all the pages from all the books and tapping that damn yellow gate, 5 times.

Yours in optimism,
Hopefully the 16th finisher of Barkley marathons.


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