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Podcast 216: What it Takes to Complete The Barkley Marathons, The Hardest Ultramarathon in the World

April 5, 2023

The Barkley Marathons are considered one of the most difficult ultramarathon races in the entire world. 100 miles, 67,000 feet of climbing, and a unique format make it absolutely grueling on the body. WHOOP member and ultrarunner John Kelly joins us to share what it takes to finish the race, twice.

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There are marathons and then there are the Barkley Marathons. The notoriously difficult and mysterious 100+ mile race has had only a handful of finishers since its inception, and WHOOP member and ultrarunner John Kelly has finished it twice, making him among the best ultrarunners in the world. John sits down with WHOOP Founder & CEO Will Ahmed hot off the heels of his recent race finish this spring to share more about what it takes to prepare for the race and what it does to the body. After being hit with a 1% Recovery post Barkley, John shares some of his key recovery techniques and what he’s learned about his body by using WHOOP.

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  • 3:52 – How John got into ultramarathons and endurances competitions
  • 9:10 – What John gets out of running ultras
  • 12:00 – Running the Barkley Marathons
  • 16:40 – How to properly fuel before and during an ultramarathon
  • 18:33 – The navigational aspect of the Barkley Marathons
  • 20:05 – John’s WHOOP data before and after the races
  • 25:08 – Recovering from an ultramarathon
  • 28:07 – The mental and physical fatigue of ultras and the Barkleys
  • 34:45 – Developing mental toughness
  • 40:05 – Going back to the Barkley Marathons after winning
  • 47:44 – People who John has learned from over the years
  • 50:00 – Things John has learned from using WHOOP

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