Kiwi orienteer finishes the Berkley Marathons
By Joolz - Sat 23 Mar 2024 6:19pm

Local orienteer Greig Hamilton is the first New Zealander to finish the Barkley Marathons in Frozen Head State Park, Tenessee, USA. This eccentric off trail ultra marathon requires the runner to navigate and find pages in a book in the forest. It has 5 loops on an unmarked course of around 32km/ 20.00 miles each loop and can be approximately up to 4000m in vertical each round, and only 40 runners can participate each year.

The length and timing of the event cannot be estimated accurately due to the roughness of the off-trail terrain, and the route choice of each runner. GPS tracking is not allowed during the event. Competitors are given a Casio watch try the event organiser Lazarus Lake to use during the event. Other quirks include not knowing the start will be as it can start any time of the day. If you fly in from New Zealand this adds to the difficulty and since this crazy adventure’s  inception in 1986, only 17 people have ever even finished the event until today. On Saturday 23 March 2024 another five have been added to the list including the first woman Jasmine Paris and now the first ever New Zealander to finish – Greig.

The only other kiwi to enter the race is Matt Bixley. In 2015 Matt tapped out when he realised he could not complete the 5 loops. Matt wanted to return but didn’t quite get there and motivated Greig to have a go.

New Zealand is a well known for intrepid navigators and adventure racers who can deal with all types of terrain, and use orienteering event to keep their navigation skills current. Both Matt Bixley and Greig Hamilton are members of the local Canterbury club Peninsula and Plains Orienteers (PAPO). Every few weeks PAPO has an event in different terrain to challenge your navigation skills.  

To learn more about the race the brutal depth of the course which has marathon distances with navigation, watch Karel Sabbe’s youtube about finishing The Barkley Marathons last year here

#BM100 #ultrarunning #adventurenavigation #orienteering

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