Days after the Barkley Marathons race expo closed, Dumb Runner has learned, at least three exhibitors are still unaccounted for.
The expo was spread over 32,000 acres of wilderness near Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park; boundaries of the expo and locations of its 14 booths were unmarked. Authorities believe that those missing simply got lost trying to find their way out.
The three, who were last seen Saturday, are John Locke, of GU Energy Labs; James “Sawyer” Ford, a rep for The Stick, a self-massage tool; and Kate Austen, with KT Tape.
The race itself ended Monday morning. For the second year in a row, no one finished the notoriously grueling event—possibly, some have suggested, because they spent too much time at the expo.
Race organizers shrugged off news of the missing exhibitors.
“Can’t say I’m surprised,” said Ben Linus, an event spokesperson, his eyes twinkling as he lit a cigarette. “This expo ain’t for the faint of heart.”
Linus then cackled and lit another cigarette.
The Barkley Marathons expo does indeed have a reputation for being tough. “The expo that slams you in the face with a two-by-four,” as it’s known, is the only one in the world known to require participants to sign a waiver.
Vendors must contend with severe terrain and a near-total lack of support from organizers as they haul folding tables, banners, and cases of product samples into the sprawling forest. Once they locate their “booth,” the closest fellow vendor may be miles away.
It’s unclear how long the three lost vendors can survive in the rugged landscape. Some speculated that they could fashion traps or snares, using their KT tape and Stick massage devices, to capture birds and small animals for sustenance.
“I guess technically the GU is edible,” said Desmond Hume, a rep for CEP Compression Wear, who himself emerged from the expo territory late Sunday, dehydrated and covered in filth.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”