Why I’ve Watched The Barkley Marathons More Than Anyone Else on Netflix

Why I’ve Watched The Barkley Marathons More Than Anyone Else on Netflix

That’s a pretty bold statement right there! I’m claiming to have watched The Barkley Marathons on Netflix more than anyone else on the planet. Before you come at me claiming this is a false statement, take a look at the tweet below from February 2018.

Firstly, can we address the fact that I got 7 likes on this tweet which now means I’m Twitter famous (at least I was a year ago, I can’t live on the coattails of my success to present day).

You like to see people have the opportunity to really find out that something about themselves

The Barkley Marathons

There is no actual way to prove that I’ve watched the Barkley Marathons more than anyone else, according to the documentary makers themselves, but here’s why I’m confident that I hold that title and what it is exactly that I love so much about the documentary.

One thing I adore about running and solo sports in general is that your performance and your enjoyment of it has nothing to do with anyone else. You’re totally relying upon your own drive and determination to achieve your goals and push yourself further than you have before. If you fail, you commiserate alone and if you succeed you’ll be riding on that high until your next one.

People have their own concepts of success and failure. A lot of them, by the time they’ve been through the ordeal, really are not concerned how other people evaluate their performance. They make their own judgements about success and failure

The Barkley Marathons

Running as a hobby has nothing to do with how many friends you have, your family, relationships, your job, how much money you have in the bank, who might have upset you that day. It’s 100% about your personal goals, your determination and tenacity.

In those moments that you’re running you are likely to unpack all of your thoughts and your feelings and try and make sense of them while you’re alone and the only thing to distract you from these is the pain of performance and effort.

You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.

Lazarus Lake, The Barkley Marathons

While all of the runners who take part in the Barkley have people behind them to help them accomplish their goals, it’s ultimately down to them and them alone whether they can complete the course or not. No one can do it for you. Queue some Natasha Beddingfield “feel the rain on your skin, no-one else can feel it for you”.

I think this is why I find the documentary so motivational. When I’m feeling a little low, uninspired or need something to remind me that you can accomplish huge goals that seem completely out of your reach that’s when I’ll pop The Barkley Marathons on.

For some people, to finish the fun run is the accomplishment of a lifetime. For some of them, to finish one loop is the achievement of a lifetime. And for some people, just to get back to camp alive is all they want in the world!

Lazarus Lake, The Barkley Marathons

My favourite runner of the 2012 race is John. Throughout the documentary he tells his personal story of his father and how he’d worked his whole life to save his money and enjoy his retirement and he never got to see it after passing a year before he retired. That really hits home for me. You never know what’s around the corner and the reality is you really should live your life as if there is no tomorrow because, for some people, there isn’t.

The race ensures that you have a number of veteran runners alongside the Barkley virgins to help guide them and get around the course. There are no signposts, no race marshalls and no GPS is allowed. You’re expected to mark your own map from the master map and be on your way.

While this is ultimately a post about the Barkley Marathons, I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’m keeping the actual contents to a minimum but I hope it has also inspired you to watch the documentary and I really hope you take away as much from it as I did even if running isn’t your thing.

You can’t really tell how much you can do until you try to do something that’s more

Lazarus Lake, The Barkley Marathons

So how do I know I’ve watched it more than anyone else (I mean apart from asking my friends and family who have seen my countless posts of my Barkley Marathon watching)? It’s because I feel the need to be uplifted, motivated and inspired often. I require the belief that I can achieve things that seem impossible every day. I’ll watch it when I’m sad, when I’m low, if I’m frustrated, if I’m feeling like nothing good has happened that day.

If you’ve made it this far and you’re intrigued and looking for some content here are some spoilers/ facts about The Barkley.

  • It took nearly 10 years for someone to complete The Barkley
  • The race is notoriously difficult to enter. The organisers suggest if you belonged there you’d find out how to get in
  • The race is 5 loops and totals 100+ miles but the exact distance is unknown to the runners
  • 3 laps of the race is considered a ‘fun run’
  • The race was inspired by the escape of ‘famous bad guy’ James Earl Ray from the nearby penitentiary
  • There is no set start time and a conch shell marks an hour until it’s due to kick off
  • Around 55% of the races ended with no finishers

Most people would be better off with more pain in their lives

The Barkley Marathons

If you haven’t watched it already, go and watch it immediately… come back and tell me when you’re done, I’ll wait. If you’ve seen it already and weren’t inspired watch it again! If you were, let me know in the comments your thoughts and what you love about the documentary.

Before I leave you, if you loved the documentary and you also loved the music, here are a couple of my favourites by Red Heart the Ticker: –

  • The Old Smith-Corona
  • Flocks, First Time
The best running documentary on Netflix | the Barkley Marathons | inspirational documentaries
The Barkley Marathons | Running Documentaries on Netflix


  1. March 15, 2019 / 6:06 pm

    I have seen it 4-5 times. I also keep up on it on Twitter. It has gotten more known in the last 5 years. It is still a race that most want to start but not many finish.

    • March 21, 2019 / 8:20 pm

      I’d love to visit the yellow gate and touch it! That’s probably the closest I’d ever get to the race!

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