The Finishers is a photographic record of the superhumans who have completed the toughest race on Earth, the Barkley Marathons. Ultrarunning photographer Alexis Berg and journalist Aurélien Delfosse criss-crossed the United States capturing stunning photographs and in-depth interviews with each of the 15 finishers. Originally published in French, the book quickly sold out because these stories inspire awe, respect and reflection at the limit of the human spirit.
Barkley is a race like no other. There is no website to take entries; participants are selected from those who find a way to submit written applications and the $1.60 entry fee; only around 40 people are chosen to run. The course, in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, was inspired by the failed escape of James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin, amid the unforgiving landscape of Ray’s prison. Runners must complete five roughly 20-mile loops (those who manage to complete only three laps are deemed to have achieved the ‘fun run’) with a total elevation gain equal to two ascents of Mount Everest. Since 1986, only 15 people have ever finished.
At the book’s heart are the finishers’ own words. Capturing the spirit of their legendary achievements and the modesty with which they live their daily routines far from the torturous course, the interviews distill hundreds of hours of transcripts to provide unique insights into the minds and mentalities of those who have conquered the Barkley Marathons.
Providing further background are essays on subjects connected to the race – from the cultures of ultrarunning to the story behind the prison that haunts the course – alongside detailed data for each of the finishers, blending granular and aerial perspectives seldom provided in sports books on any subject.
For more information or to order the English version, visit: vol.co/product/the-finishers/