BY ENDURANCE NEWS STAFF
On April 1st, 2017, Hammer Nutrition sponsored athlete John Kelly left the start line on his third attempt at the 100 plus mile, 60 hour ultramarathon trail race, the Barkley Marathons. On April 3rd, at 59:30 in with just 30 minutes to spare, Kelly became the race's 15th Finisher since 1986.
The Barkley Marathons takes place in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. The application process is elusive, only a select few are accepted. Full route disclosure is provided upon arrival and exact start time is announced just one hour prior. Currently, the race consists of a 20-mile unmarked loop. Participants will run this loop five times, will experience 67,000 feet of accumulated vertical climb, and they must finish within 60 hours.
Barkley participants share an obsessive curiosity, and a love for adventure. They hammer through obstacles with extreme determination, and have an incessant desire to push personal limits.
One of Kelly's motivations to finish the Barkley Marathons was that it felt like a coming home for him. He grew up a few miles away. In an interview with the Ginger Runner, John reflected on traversing the same mountains and sharp briar patches as a child.
Following the first two Barkley runs Kelly left saying I can do better, I can go a little bit longer, I can go a little bit faster. He promptly re-calibrated his nutrition and fueling strategies, including a better preparing for sleep deprivation and staying mentally alert. From his blog post titled 2017 Barkley Strategy, Gear, & Nutrition, Kelly shares how Hammer Nutrition helped him reach his goal:
After quite a bit of experimenting, I've found that Hammer Nutrition works best for me during races in terms of keeping my energy levels steady and preventing gastric distress.
John and his wife, Jessi welcomed twins into the world during training, making them a family of four. Being a devoted father and dedicated athlete, he implemented an in-home treadmill set to a 20% incline into his routine, along with weekend and commuting runs, biking, and swimming. Managing daily life and training for an ultramarathon requires consistent nutrition and more importantly, recovery.
During the race, athletes had to work through disorienting fog for loop one, 80 degrees with humidity during loop four, and snow and hail reported during loop five. John's memorable arrival at the finishing gate, wearing a found knit hat and plastic grocery bag says it all.
Kelly's story is proof that physical strength alone is not enough. A healthy fueling and nutrition strategy for increasing physical strength, assuring proper recovery, and improving mental alertness is essential. To future participants Kelly suggests doing something that you know you're going to fail at and see how you react, see how you try to overcome that and be able to build that mental strength to fight through the mistakes that are going to happen. No one is going to have a mistake-free Barkley.
Hammer Nutrition is excited to continue supporting John Kelly as he hammers on in the future.