‘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 Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.

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