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Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons, the World's Toughest Trail Race

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Tales From Out There is the story of the Barkley Marathons, arguably the world's toughest long-distance trail foot-race. In this book, the 24-year history of this event is covered in detail, with all known runners and their results listed. Numerous photographs, charts, and maps are included. The runners have had some interesting experiences out there during the Barkley rac ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  262 ratings  ·  33 reviews


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Arunaabh Shah
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I'll be frank, this was probably the worst written books I have ever read.
The formatting was all off, the author forgot to do a spellcheck and it looked like he simply printed a huge MS Word file on to 215 pages and published it.
And even the content in itself was repetitive, like an engineering student trying to fill up his assignment with additional words. The last 2 chapters(2008, 2009) were written in a different tone than the rest of the of the book.
But somehow, in some weird way, this was
...more
Max
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Barkley Marathons are considered to be the world's hardest endurance running races. In loops of 20-25 miles you need to navigate yourself to 12 hidden books. From each book you need to collect a page to bring back to the starting point. In order to win, you need to complete five loops. So naturally, in the time span of the book, only 8 people finished the race. More people finished what is considered the "fun run" of three loops.

I first came across the Barkley Marathons when I stumbled upon
...more
Amar Pai
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
This race sounds thoroughly unpleasant. 120 miles, cumulative 60,000 feet of elevation gain/loss, running in the dark through briar infested patches of rock and mud... who would do such a thing? Reading it has motivated me to try 5% harder at my own runs though. I even crashed through the brush on a trail the other day to find a shortcut! I didn't find it, I emerged with thorns in my socks and scratches on my legs. I felt ready for Barkley Marathons. ...more
Nick
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book on my way to bed one night, when I was pretty tired, but it quickly grabbed my attention and I was surprised to find that I read a few chapters that first night. The Barkleys are incredible, as anything you read about them suggests. I don't think I have any interest in signing up, but I'm very happy to have read this book, and would be interested in taking a weekend at Frozen Head to check out the area.

I was surprised, after I ordered this book, to find how dense the
...more
Katie Stanton
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a delicious irony in the negative reviews for a book about a 100+ mile race that only 15 people have finished in 33 years. This book isn’t a cosy Eat Pray Love style narrative about a personal journey of enlightenment found through being outside. The author has taken part in countless iterations of the race and has years of records of the course, elevation profiles of the sections and information critical to prepare for the race. This account is an imperative manual to anyone hoping to ...more
Ken McFadden
Apr 06, 2022 rated it liked it
It’s ok. Pretty technical with regards to the Barkley course. Frozen Ed certainly has details re: Who ran,what year, what each of their loop times were, and other tidbits of info people really wouldn’t find interesting to be honest…Ed also included each of his own personal letters (from 1985 to 2009) requesting admittance into the race since he became hooked on keeping everything Barkley…Details galore.
I read this wishing I knew some of these participants but not really wishing I was unfortunat
...more
John Joseph Cassidy
Apr 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
From the horses mouth. A quite stunning read from Frozen Ed Furtaw. recommend for everyone. This will answers loads and also pose a whole lot more questions about what we humans are capable of. Recommended.
Michiel
Mar 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
Not a great work of literature, but a must read for lovers of ultrarunning or barkley marathons. So much stories of the earlier years. Loved it!
Paula.Luz
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think you have to be really fascinated with the Barkley Marathons to really like this book. One year ago I have seen the popular documentary of the race on netflix and I immediately was fascinated. I was gifted this book for Christmas and was really excited to read it. If you are not familiar with how the Barkley works, the author describes it and the mentally of the race and the director very well. Most interesting for me were the stories of the different runners on the course. The good and t ...more
Shane Orr
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it
A couple of years ago, I became fascinated by the Barkley Marathons after seeing a documentary about the world's toughest trail race. That's the kind of hyperbole that might be used by different races, but by any objective measure it’s true in this case. This race has been going on for over 30 years in the mountains of eastern Tennessee and less than 2% of runners have been able to complete all five 20+-mile loops. This is an account of the race up to 2008 by one of its most frequent runners. Yo ...more
Colleen
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you find yourself intrigued by the awesome and crazy Barkley Marathons, you'll probably enjoy this book, but I have to admit the writing isn't the best. Most of the chapters are a recap of a single year's race, and after a few years, it becomes a bit formulaic. I kind of felt like I was reading a book report, though one I found very interesting. It might not be for everyone.

The best parts were to the first few chapters that gave an overview of the race, and the last chapter which was Frozen
...more
Zachary Lemon
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Granted this author is no Hemingway- and he doesn't pretend to be. What makes this book special is his all consuming passion for The Barkley and what it means to him. For that reason I think this book is essential to trying to understand (and especially preparing to attempt) this incredible challenge. At times the level of detail can be a little dry, but there are plenty of great stories from this legendary to keep you engaged. ...more
Tom Hunt
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An insightful and captivating read which, for me, is the perfect accompaniment to the Netflix documentary. Probably more a read for enthusiasts over the casual reader, but for those, it is fascinating.
Shawnee
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not what I expected, this book chronicles the Barkley Marathons year by year. Lots of interesting tidbits of stories and lots of data (that I skimmed over). I would love to go hang out in camp, but I'll leave this race to the mega-badasses out there. :-) ...more
Alicia
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
It's ok, I enjoyed the documentary on Netflix better (so rare for me to say something like that). ...more
Toph White
Little more background on this silly thing. Wants you to see how much you can hurt before making the decision to quit.
Jason Zimmerman
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are a Barkley geek this is the only book for you.
Max Ewart
Aug 06, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is written poorly but the subject is so interesting that you'll fight through it. The philosophical aspect of the stories of this incredible race make it worth reading. An archive of the race is the most accurate way to describe it.

If you have seen the documentary on this race and want to learn more of the history, please read the book.
...more
Megan Joycey
Jul 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, running
Great historic recap of the finishers and the race events. As a runner I loved all the detail and the race report standings, it was fantastic to see people try this race multiple times! It sounds crazy.
Amanda
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: health, 2018
Folksy but interesting.
Jack Ewart
Jan 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
Great stories not so great writing . It's out there thats for sure ...more
Molly Walker
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting to learn about the history of the Barkley Marathons from the perspective of a participant. The writing was difficult to follow at times and often felt bogged down in names and numbers.
Nick Pannone
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Tales From Out There" is an account about the Barkley Marathons that are arguably the toughest footrace in the world. I have recently become interested in these types of races, but I don't desire to run one. Furtaw's account is something that I am definitely interested in. The Barkleys don't entice me at all, except that I'd love to be there just to witness the race.
As for the book, it is mostly a documentary that Ed Furtaw put together about a race that was created and managed by Gary Lazarus
...more
Nicholas Cummins
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Super interesting book, not super well written technically speaking but I think what many would consider an unprofessional writing style actually adds a lot to the book and helps enhance the gritty, almost primitive tone of the book, which with this style takes on the character of the race itself and makes what is in itself very interesting content even more exciting and engrossing. As the book goes along the race is almost built into a character as much as the people who compete in it, thought ...more
Raven
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A highly entertaining account of a race that I am grateful that I never have to run, from someone who has been running it throughout most of its history. Frozen Ed gives us an insider's guide to the development, refinement, and ratcheting difficulty of the Barkley Marathons, complete with howlingly funny and terrible stories about experiences that one never wants to have. Weather, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, mental breakdown... these runners do it so that we don't have to. Like many adventure ...more
Lori
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Someone with only a casual interest in the Barkley may not enjoy this book, but someone who is familiar with ultra running races and the ultra running community will surely get a kick out of the humorous anecdotes and the edge of your seat tales of competition contained in this book. Of particular interest are the chapters detailing the events of the first finisher of the 100 mile race, the controversial disqualification of two 100 mile finishers and the breaking of the course record on the 20th ...more
Eric
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting history to a fascinating race and the almost unbelievable runners who attempt the Barkley Marathons. Probably of more interest to those runners involved, but it is a good retelling of many races. Worth checking out if you are interested in the world's most difficult ultramarathon. ...more
Matt Skains
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
For a competition that doesn't have much information readily available, this was a good look at the history of the event from one of it's earliest participants. The guys who finish the Barkley are incredible and I am blown away by the dedication the race has. ...more
Todd Salzer
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it


A bit too "informational" for me, but a well researched documentation of the Barkely Marathons and the odd cats who run it. (I wish to be one, someday.)
...more
Vasilis
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running
A very extensive reading about the Barkleys Marathon. The author shows his obsession with the specific run something that is thrilling to read and learn about the stories from "out there"! ...more
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