After months of training, and a gruelling three-day race in Tennessee, Gary Robbins’ second attempt at the Berkley Marathons ended in chaos and confusion as the North Van runner came in just six seconds over the race’s 60 hour cut off time.
Robbins set off on the fifth and final 20-mile loop of the 100-mile+ race at midnight local time. However early reports from social media suggest that he got lost in the fog and ended up off course. That led him to finish the race from the wrong direction; even though he had picked up all of the book pages, which are used to prove the runners finished the whole route.
It was a heartbreaking end for the North Vancouver runner who was hoping to become the first ever Canadian finisher of the run, which has been dubbed the hardest in the world. Indeed it is almost impossible to sum up just how tough this test is.
The agonizing sight of Robbins collapsing at the finish line a mere six seconds after the race’s cutoff was captured on video by Canadian Running Magazine, which has been following the runner’s progress over the course of the weekend.
John Kelly from Washington, D.C. is the only runner to finish this year’s Barkley Marathons, coming in with a time of 59:30. Kelly, who was wearing a Walmart bag and an orange hat he had found in the wilderness in an attempt to fend off the frigid temperatures overnight, immediately asked about the status of his Canadian competitor.
Nevertheless all eyes were on Gary Robbins with many spectators reportedly crying after the devastating nature of his near miss.
The race’s organizer Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell described Robbins’ run as “A story for the ages” and Twitter followed suit, praising the North Vancouver runner’s efforts in the almost impossible challenge.
Gary Robbins will tell his story – and what a story it will be. #BM100
— The Barkley Marathon (@BarkleyMarathon) April 3, 2017
— ☕️denny☕️ (@dennyporkchop) April 3, 2017
They give you 216,000 seconds, it took Gary 216,006. What an absolute heartbreak! #bm100
— Jared (@jbrrunspdx) April 3, 2017
— Sandy Cyr (@CityofLakes) April 3, 2017
— Kaci (@runner_kc) April 3, 2017
As for Robbins himself? The North Shore runner was typically humble and polite. And even after the pain of his finish, not to mention the agony caused by running across impossible terrain for more than 60 hours, he still had time to thank the organizers for “another wonderful race.”
What a hero.
Thank you Gary Robbins for doing Vancouver proud!