Australian Isobel Ross will be joining a strong contingent of women at the 2020 Barkleys, including Liz Canty and Maggie Guterl. I had the chance to ask her some questions before she leaves for Frozen Head State Bark in Tennessee.
How did you first hear about the Barkley Marathons?
I first heard about it 11 years ago listening to a podcast in the car with my then 8 year old daughter. We both thought it sounded like an awesome adventure. I just thought I would never be able to get in.
When did you know you’d gotten in for 2020?
I got in the first time for the 2019 edition. I was living in Canada at the time. I got in for this edition late last year. I was out on a final training run for a 100 miler I had coming up. I was just as excited as the first time around!
What are you most concerned about? What are you most excited about?
Everything!! I am nervous mainly about the nav and the sleep deprivation.
What do you think was most important in Laz’s selection of you for the Barkley?
I don’t know!! I wish I knew!!
What type of training have you been focused on in the final weeks?
I have done a lot more nav work this year. Unfortunately, I have been injured from the 100 miler I did in November. I have had an impinged nerve in my calf that made running impossible for two months. I am a lot better now.
Navigation has been a challenge for Barkers. What have you done to prepare?
I have been doing rogaines and practicing on practice courses.
Rat Jaw and briers have really torn up other runners. Any special plans to deal with the cuts and burs?
Not too fussed about that. I do have excellent gaiters from Moxie Gear.
In the past, weather has played a big role in who finishes. How have you prepared for the extreme heat and cold you might experience?
I have been through a very hot summer, and ran through Canadian winters. I have all the gear necessary for any weather. And then I just suck it up!
Sleep deprivation can also be a major issue. Do you have an interloopal rest plan?
It’s an issue for me. I find it hard to operate on no sleep. I am good at micro naps.
As a coach, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned that you’ll be applying at the Barkleys?
Just focusing on doing my best at all times. On keeping on going. On focusing on the process.
No woman has finished the Barkley, and it’s been years since any have finished a Fun Run. Do you think this is the year that changes? If so, what gives you the most optimism? Does this put any extra pressure on you?
I would love it if this was the year it changes, it would be so awesome to see a woman do well.
Are friends and family joining you for support, or are you self-supporting?
Unfortunately no 🙁 . I shall be travelling over by myself. A friend, Larry Kelley will be crewing for me.
What’s the best / worst advice past Barkers have given you, if any?
Nothing really All advice is good, but you have to relate it to yourself, which ultimately changes it anyway.
Among the men and women, who do you think is mostly likely to finish?
I honestly don’t know!!
What are your personal goals for the Barkley? Loop? Fun Run? Finish? CR?
I did not complete a loop in time last year. I would love to finish, but of course know how difficult this will be. I would also be extremely happy/ecstatic with a fun run. The Barkley is so hard, it’s impossible to guess!!
About Isobel Ross
Isobel Ross runs Peak Endurance Coaching in Australia, has the Aim High, Run Far blog, and does the Peak Endurance running podcast. She was a first time Barker (aka Virgin) at the 2019 Barkley Marathons.
We wish her good luck Out There!
More about the Barkleys
We hope this interview with Isobel gave you an appetite for more:
- 2020 David Limousin Interview
- 2020 Barkley Runners
- Barkley Finish Stats
- People of the Barkley (Barkers)
- Terms & Quick Reference
- Top 10 Barkley Documentaries