This Beverley Anderson-Abbs 2014 Barkley Marathons race report is reproduced with permission, with minor updates and corrections from the original.
The Barkley that Wasn’t
There’s no question I should have known better than to choose my clothing for the next loop based on the weather forecast. but, like my choice to wear shorts on loop #1, my ability to make poor decisions at this year’s barkley seemed to know no bounds. I headed out with Alan, Fegy, and Jodi at a fairly good clip up bird mountain. I felt so good climbing I was dropping the guys and Alan kept telling me to slow down.
Books 1, 2, and 3 came quickly and easily, but the rain was starting and temperatures were dropping rapidly as we started up the new hill-pocolypse from book 3. North boundary trail was quickly becoming a side hill mud slick from the rain that had started early on loop 1 and had not let up, making running somewhat treacherous. By the coal ponds a 40 mph wind had joined the relentless downpour and I was starting to shiver and slow down. By garden spot, the rain was turning to horizontal sleet and a thick fog was rolling in just as it was getting dark, making head lights virtually useless.
I was shivering and slowing down rapidly and knew that if I carried on I would only slow the guys down, and potentially put myself in serious danger. The level of commitment after garden spot is daunting, with the fire tower really the next option for a return to camp and butt slide, stallion mountain, testicle spectacle, meth lab, pig head, and rat jaw between me and the tower. So at this point, I decided my best option for my safety, and the guys chance to continue, was to return to camp.
I said my goodbyes and began heading down toward coffin springs and quitter’s road, a route that would see a lot of activity over the next several hours. I pulled out my hand held light and tried to turn it on. Although it was fully charged, it would not turn on, so after several tries, I put it away and removed my head light so I could carry it close to the ground. My universe was reduced to the 3 feet ahead of me that my light could penetrate the fog and darkness.
In my somewhat addled brain, I registered a shape walking beside me and thought these were not good conditions for a dog to be out here and I better just make sure he followed me down to the campground. It took a moment for my mind to register the disconnect and realize it was a wild pig beside me. During that short duration, I had taken several more steps and my lighted universe now contained the shapes of 6 or 7 more pigs.
At this point, I started yelling at them to go away…and they did. They simply vanished into the fog. now my thoughts turned to figuring out where the pigs had gone and what their plan might be? Had they circled around behind me? Did they just move out of the light arc and were waiting to ambush me? Are they that evil and did they even think like that? I kept screaming at them and mustered up a shuffle run down the road for several minutes until I felt I had left them behind.
Quitter’s road is a long way back to camp.
More about the Beverley Anderson-Abbs
Beverley was an accomplished Eco Challenge and ultra runner long before her first Barkley, including four prior top-three Western States finishes. You can find her UltraSignup results here, and see brief snippets of her 2012 Barkley experience in The Race That Eat’s Its Own. She was one of two woman runners:
More about the Barkley Marathons
Good luck Out There!