Podcast: Episode 166: Lazarus Lake: Who is he, and how did he change the sport of ultrarunning forever?


Gary Cantrell, aka Lazarus Lake, (or is it the other way around?) could be the most creative person in the entire sport. That is a low bar, but possibly by accident he has single-handily changed ultrarunning forever.  The Barkley Marathons is an iconic, world-renowned event, and the subject of two films, even though only 40 people enter, there is no website, and the time and even the date of the race is secret.  

"It's good clean fun. But not always clean, and not always fun."

"A 'Barker' isn't someone who says, "This isn't fair!" and goes home. They are someone who goes home and works to get better."

"It's a 1% race. It's designed so only 1% of entrants should be able to finish. Since 40 people are in each year, two finishers every five years is about right."

In 2006 a runner got lost on Loop 1.  He didn't find his way back until 32 hours later.

"If you run off the map, the map doesn't help much anymore.  He went about two miles. That's 16 hour miles."

Backyard Ultras are another Laz invention ("Just One More Loop") and will possibly be his most enduring legacy. The original Bigs Backyard Ultra is still is held on his farm in Tennessee, where 35 people competed on October 16, but this year 25-30,000 runners will enter an official Backyard Ultra in 65 countries.  Who'd have imagined such a wild success?  Not Laz:

"This is like a fantasy, because I'm just an old hillbilly who lives in the woods. I wonder if I'm going to wake up and it's not real."

"I wonder if we stumbled on a whole new sport."

"People don't stop when they can't keep going; they stop when they think they can't win."

You need to listen to this. Laz is one of the most unique and insightful people we've ever had on the podcast.  Or that you have ever heard.

"The job of a race director is to help people find greatness in themselves."

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Full CV

Gary Cantrell

  • Age: 43 (as stated); 67 (actual)*
  • City: Bell Buckle, TN
  • Occupation: Retired
  • Family: 3 children, 3 grandchildren, 2 ancient dogs
  • Sports Highlights - - -
    • Transcon 2018
    • 5 finished at Strolling Jim 50
  • Social Media - - -

"Age for me, is mileage on my body" - quoted by Outside Magazine. "By that measure, he's ancient" - Outside Author

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