‘Last Women Standing’: Nicky Spinks Tackles the Infamous Barkleys

U.K. ultrarunner Nicky Spinks sets out in the crazy Barkley Marathons to prove that a woman can do it.

Race organizer Lazarus Lake’s letter reads like both an invitation and a warning: “It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that you’ve been selected to run in the 2019 Barkley Marathons.” The Barkley Marathons is the world’s toughest and weirdest ultradistance race — if you can even call it that.

It consists of five back-to-back marathon-ish distances on an unmarked course. There’s hill-climbing, scavenging for books in the forest, and other weird challenges along the way. Since 1986, only 15 runners have completed the full 100-plus-mile endeavor.

“The Barkleys is a relentless race of ups, downs, and where-the-hells,” said Spinks.

Over the years, there have been few female runners but no female finishers. In this short film produced by inov-8, 52-year-old breast cancer survivor and decorated ultrarunner Nicky Spinks runs to challenge that record.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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