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B.C. ultra runner Ihor Verys leading the pack at Barkley Marathons

Photo emerges from secretive event of Verys passing race creator Lazarus Lake at start of 4th lap
Chilliwack ultra runner Ihor Verys begins the fourth lap of the infamously difficult Barkley Marathon in Tennessee, on March 21, 2024. Race creator Lazarus Lake holds a Ukrainian flag to show his support for the Ukrainian-born runner. (Photo by @howiesternphoto)

Chilliwack’s Ihor Verys was one of the last ultra runners left in one of the world’s most gruelling marathons, as of Thursday morning (March 21).

A photo has emerged of Verys passing by Lazarus Lake, creator and director of the Barkley Marathons in the East Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park, about to start the fourth lap of the race. In the photos, Lake holds up a Ukrainian flag, seemingly urging on the runner who came to Canada from Ukraine, and only recently took up ultra running after meeting his neighbour. That neighbour happened to be accomplished ultra runner Gary Robbins.

There is very little information shared about the race each year until it starts. This year’s race started in the pre-dawn hours of March 20. It’s commonly known as ‘The Race That Eats Its Young.’

Runners are not able to use GPS, and must rely on maps. Only 17 people have ever even finished the marathon, which involves old-school navigation and has strict rules, including no littering.

It’s difficult to even be accepted as a participant, but Verys has made his way to the Barkley Marathons by winning (or nearly winning) multiple races of late.

Verys won the HURT 100 in Honolulu earlier this year, alongside fellow Chilliwack runner Andrea Tarras.

He was also the second last man standing in the Big’s Backyard Ultra last year, another very difficult creation of Lake’s.

There is very little information available about the race as it unfolds, except for one person who offers updates via Twitter, Keith Dunn. And as of 11 a.m. on March 21, only 12 people remained in the race, according to @keithdunn.

Of note, Verys lost the Big’s event to Harvey Lewis. Lewis was also one of this year’s Barkley runners, but dropped out after two laps. He has also been sharing information about this year’s iteration of the course on his own social media.

Watch this website for race results when they are available.

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