Iron Mike Wardian vs The Barkley Marathon

Only 14 people have finished the infamous Barkley Marathon. It’s a mungrel event, designed specifically for people who want an almost unachievable challenge.

This weekend Michael Wardian will head to  Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee and try to become the 15th finisher. To succeed in this mission, Mike will have to complete five, 20mile loops of the course in under 60 hours.


A lot of unusual things make Barkley iconic including its start time, which is anywhere from midnight to noon on race day, with one hour till  the race start being signaled by blowing a conch. Then the race officially begins when a cigarette is lit by the race director.

In addition to ‘running’ through the briar covered course, competitors must find between nine and eleven books along the course (the exact number varies each year) and remove the page corresponding to the runner’s race number from each book as proof of completion. Competitors get a new race number, and thus a new page requirement, at the start of each lap.

Before Mike sets off, when ever that is… we caugh up for a quick insight to his mission towards being Mr. 15 at Barkley.

Why did you choose to do Barkley?

MRW: I choose The Barkley Marathons to see if I could do it and because it scares me. I am worried about getting lost, running that much vertical, no aid stations, weather, etc.  going to be epically tough and awesome!
What will success on the day look like? 

MRW: I am hoping to learn a lot. Success will be coming away with a very specific knowledge of what is possible for myself and what I can improve on. The goal is 5 loops.

How did you prepare for it?

MRW: I ran a lot of miles to prepare for it but also I did a ton of hiking steep climbs.

What are you least looking forward to?
MRW: I am least looking forward to getting lost. I know it will happen but doesn’t mean I have to like it.
What are you keen to get from the experience?
MRW: I am hoping to see what my limits are and to try and learn all the legends and lore that makes up the race.

Do you think it will be as tough as they say it is?

MRW: I do think it will be as hard as they say and I believe the hype but want to experience it for myself.
Rock and Roll Wardian!
– All the best from The Long Run Crew