The Ukrainian won for the first time at Barkley Marathons-2024

The Ukrainian won for the first time at Barkley Marathons-2024


The Ukrainian won the prestigious ultramarathon in Canada

photo from the archive of Igor Verys

31-year-old Ihor Verys from Chornomorsk has been living in Canada for 9 years. At the end of March, the man won Barkley Marathons-2024 – one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

Ihor became the first Ukrainian to cover the entire distance. In addition, he finished first among the participants at a distance of about 200 km. His result is 58:44:59.

He told “UP. Life” about competitions, running and the experience of ultramarathons.

Igor has been living in Canada for 9 years

Igor has been living in Canada for 9 years

photo from Igor’s archive

Ihor started running after he moved to Canada in 2015 and works in the insurance industry. He jokes that he was looking for a hobby to get out of the house sometimes.

“Running is one of the cheapest sports, because you only need a pair of comfortable sneakers to start. That’s how I started. At first I just ran, then a half-marathon, a marathon, and gradually increased the distance.

Later, I found trails – running trails in the mountains, and met enthusiasts there like me. They opened the world of ultramarathons to me“, the man recalls.

In 2020, he signed up for the first 100-kilometer races. Although Igor had no expectations, he won the competition and increased the distance every time.

In 2024, the man signed up for the Barkley Marathons – this is the toughest ultramarathon in the world, which has been held since 1986. In almost 40 years of holding these competitions, only 17 participants were able to finish.

This race has strict limitations – each of the 5 laps must be completed in no more than 12 hours. One circle is approximately equal to the distance of a marathon – about 42-45 km. But no one knows for sure, because the rules also prohibit the use of a phone or a watch with a tracker.”– says the sportsman.

The route is laid out over rough terrain, but without any markings. Participants are given a compass and a map. The organizers also scatter 15 books along the route – the runner must find them all and tear out the page with his or her serial number as proof of passing the point.

The track runs through mountainous terrain, so in the ultralong marathon, the participant gains more than 4,000 meters of altitude for one lap and 20,000 meters for the entire race.

Igor explains that it is like climbing Everest 2.5 times or conquering Hoverla 10 times in a row.

Ihor holds the flag of Ukraine at a race in Canada

Ihor holds the flag of Ukraine at a race in Canada

photo from the archive

The race takes place continuously – participants spend 2.5 days without sleep or rest.

“The difficulty also lies in the fact that the route is not marked and you have to think, look for books, work with a compass and a map for the entire race. Since there is not even a second to rest, sometimes panic sets in, as if you are lost in the forest.

By the way, overcoming the first four circles, participants can communicate with each other and help each other in finding confirmation books. But on the fifth circle, any help is prohibited“, Igor explains.

He adds that until 2024, no Canadian or Ukrainian has run Barkley Marathons. In the 1980s, a team from the USSR came to this race, and it included a runner who completed three laps out of five.

Competitors never cover the distance in 50 or 53 hours – their times are always close to 60 hours. If at least one participant finishes, the organizers make the route more difficult.

“You need mountain legs to climb and descend mountains”– Igor jokes about the secret of winning the race.

He adds that one of the reasons for his interest in this sport is the development of his own body’s potential.

“I am very glad that the victory in the ultramarathon received such a response. This is my way of reminding about Ukraine, because very often people here forget how happy they are to live under a peaceful sky.

I saw that some of my subscribers sent funds to charity funds of Ukraine as a sign of my victory in this race. I will continue to remind about Ukraine and do everything possible to win”– adds Ihor Verys.


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