Life Isn’t Fair. He Didn’t Want This Race to Be, Either.

Gary Cantrell, the mastermind behind the Barkley Marathons, is in a race of his own: against time.

WARTBURG, Tenn. — The convoy of minivans and U-Hauls eased down a narrow, winding two-lane street in northeastern Tennessee. It passed circles of razor wire, a prison and a cemetery to reach its destination: a race marked by a yellow gate that has attracted the imagination of the ultrarunning world.

The people inside the vehicles had come from France, Germany and Japan. They had come to be tested by Gary Cantrell, the mastermind of the five-loop, 100-plus-mile Barkley Marathons.

But on the cusp of 70, Cantrell, better known as Lazarus Lake, showed signs that he

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