Barkley_Marathons_5Coming to DVD and VOD today, Tuesday, December 8: THE BARKLEY MARATHONS: THE RACE THAT EATS ITS YOUNG

Annika Iltis and Timothy Kane’s chronicle of one of the world’s hardest ultramarathons made its world premiere at Austin last Fall. Since then, the film has also screened at Hot Docs, Nashville, Kansas City, Sidewalk, DocUtah, and Rocky Mountain Women’s, among other fests. Gravitas Ventures now releases the doc on VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, VHX, Google Play, Playstation, and Cable Video On Demand.

An annual event since 1985, the titular Tennessee race has proven to be one of the most elusive and demanding on the ultramarathon circuit, one created to mock the ill-fated escape of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassin, James Earl Ray, from the nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentary in 1977. Deliberately kept from becoming too widely known through a confounding application process and via the whims of its founders, the pseudonymously known Lazarus Lake and Raw Dog, the event still manages to attract takers who pay the $1.60 fee, complete a written exam, and provide the stipulated gifts, which range from out-of-state license plates to flannel shirts. Of these, forty runners are selected, including one who Lake knows has no chance of ever completing the punishing course, which consists of five loops of approximately 20-26 miles, making the total somewhere between 100-130 miles in length. With a variable course, no GPS allowed, and stark elevation shifts, the Barkley is so intentionally difficult that only ten people completed it in its first 25 years. While Iltis and Kane tend to rely a bit too much on the conventions of the competition doc to structure their film, the race is so uniquely peculiar – as is Lake – that they generally get away with it, making for an enjoyable look at an offbeat subcultural event.

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