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Chilliwack’s Ihor Verys first Canadian to finish and win Barkley Marathons

Ultra runner one of five finishers in 100-mile Tennessee event
Ihor Verys (middle) with the other finishers on March 22. (Keith Dunn)

Ihor Verys of Chilliwack became the first Canadian to both finish and win one of the world’s toughest marathons on Friday (March 22).

Verys finished the five-lap 100-mile race in 58 hours 44 minutes and 59 seconds.

“It’s tough, it’s gnarly, it’s hard… but that’s what ultra runners love,” Verys said via Instagram. “We’re in it to challenge ourselves and I think Barkley delivers it more than any other race out there.”

Verys moved to Manitoba from Ukraine on a student visa in 2015 and got Canadian citizenship. He took up running once he arrived in Canada, eventually settling in Chilliwack. Verys received the coveted invitation due to multiple first-place finishes in other events, including a win at the HURT 100 in Hawaii earlier this year.

Occurring in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park, the race is five 20-mile laps with a time limit of 60 hours. Challengers climb and descend over 60,000 feet, almost the equivalent of climbing up Canada’s tallest mountain, Mount Logan, three times.

The group started out with 40 and dwindled down to five. The other successful participants included John Kelly in his third finish. This was followed by Jared Campbell in a record-breaking fourth finish for the event. New Zealand’s Greig Hamilton finished fourth, and British runner Jasmin Paris became the first woman to finish the race and did so with just 99 seconds left. Five finishers in one year breaks the previous record of three in 2012 and 2023, with only 17 people ever completing it prior to the 2024 race.

The Barkley Marathons, which began in 1986, is a closely guarded event with no details advertised to the public. The marathon requires challengers to find various books along the way and tear out pages according to their bib numbers. They use just a map and no GPS technology, making it both a physically and mentally challenging marathon.

RELATED: Chilliwack ultra runner Ihor Verys leading the pack at Barkley Marathons

About the Author: Ryleigh Mulvihill

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