Who are the silent badass athletes in the outdoor arena? Ultimate Direction Ambassador Jared Campbell comes to mind. Most outdoor enthusiasts have never heard of Jared (unless they have watched the new Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix!)
So, who is Jared Campbell, and why has he done more adventures than anyone you’ve never heard of?
UPDATE: On April 4, Jared became the first 3-time Finisher of the infamous Barkley Marathons …
The BARKLEY MARATHONS is an uber small, quirky, and hardcore 100 mile “race” in the backwoods of Tennessee. In 21 years, only 14 people have finished. The course is made harder every time someone does manage to finish, and now entails about 66,000′ of vert, mostly bushwhacking, with no electronic devices allowed.
The local newspaper did a lovely story on the 2016 event. Outside Magazine did a nice little pre-race story this year. Jared’s own blog has the best info on the event, including a link to a story he wrote on his 2014 Finish.
Finally, with about 30 minutes left to spare before the 60-hour cutoff, a headlamp came bobbing into the campground. It belonged to Campbell. Campbell leaned in to kiss the yellow gate as he became the first three-time finisher in Barkley Marathons history.
“Sorry to keep you all waiting,” he said …
What got you into running/adventuring? Was it an event, life change, etc?
JC: Through my teens and early 20s I was focused on rock climbing. This was a fantastic thing for me as I met many amazing people, traveled to beautiful places, and spent those critical years learning how to set and accomplish goals. Eventually my climbing objectives shifted and the scale became larger, eventually leading to multi-peak routes like the Grand Traverse (Tetons), Cirque of the Towers Traverse (Wind Rivers), Evolution Traverse (Sierra Nevada), etc. At the time I worked for a professor in a University laboratory, he was training for the Wasatch 100, which I thought sounded awful. But, after a few quick calculations I realized it was similar to what I was doing from an endurance standpoint. I had to try at least once, right? One thing lead to another and pretty soon long distance mountain running became a defining part of my life. Now, some 14 years later, the allure of organized races has mostly worn off and I find myself most passionate about objectives that involve a fusion of skills and compelling routes.
Why do you do, what you do? What is the driving force behind Jared Campbell?
JC: Running, for the most part, is my personal time. A time to be quiet and reflective, where I do my best problem solving, and where I feel most capable of working through situations that in normal life get clouded by external influences.
I am also drawn to fairly extreme endurance objectives as they create an opportunity for immense personal growth and perspective. Whether inherent to my nature, shaped by life events, or both, I find a strange attraction to activities that test my ability to deal with adversity. One of my favorite quotes from Harold S. Kushner is, “Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.”
Most proud achievements and why? Or… can you give us a little story about one race/adventure that made a mark on your life (for good or bad).
JC: My memory is short so I’ll focus on the most recent adventure, last weekend! Buzz and I completed the Temple Throne Traverse (TTT) in Zion National Park. It’s no surprise that I love Zion and have spent a sizable chunk of my life exploring it. While TTT is a remarkable route, my favorite part of the adventure was tackling it with Buzz. Our friendship is built on a long list of adventures, many of which have gone well, others have involved mistakes. I spent much of the time during the TTT thinking about the importance of partner dynamics. On routes with serious consequences and complicated logistics open and honest communication is essential. In our early adventures together we made quick decisions, often out of haste, which lead to lost time (and could have easily been worse in serious situations). It is essential to know when to push the pause, step back to discuss the situation, and then make a rational plan. Be it a critical route-finding decision, deciding to continue on or bail, or the simple mechanics of rappelling down a multi-pitch route by headlamp, it is critical to tackle these situations as a team. We executed TTT almost perfectly, which gave us both a great sense of satisfaction.
What do you have planned for the future?
JC: 2016 will be another exciting year! In February we held a successful Running Up For Air (RUFA) 24 hour endurance event / fund-raiser. March has already included a great trip to Death Valley followed by the incredible trip to Zion National Park (mentioned above), both with Buzz. In less than 2 weeks I’ll head to Tennessee for the Barkley Marathons. Come June I’ll try to complete Nolans 14 again and in July I’ll be volunteering at Krogers Canteen during Hardrock. In Late July, I’d like to string together the Utah 13ers in a push. In August, Mindy (my wife) and I will have our second child! September – try to complete a long standing personal goal I call Wasatoja (Wasatch 100 followed immediately by the Lotoja bike race). Fall will undoubtedly be filled with a trip or three down south, likely exploring Canyonlands and likely the Cedar Mesa area.
Where would you like to see the sport of running go…(for better or worse)?
JC: I would love to see the trail running community develop a better working relationship with the Forest Service in an effort to facilitate new events. Additionally, I have always wanted to see growth with the more technical “mountain” running scene (as compared to just trail running) similar to Skyrunning in Europe.
Who is Jared Campbell outside of the adventure arena?
JC: My wife, Mindy, and I are proud parents of one daughter, Phoebe, and soon to have another. We live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Natives to the area we can’t seem to pry ourselves away from living at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. I am a Mechanical Engineer and work with a stellar team of talented designers and engineers to developing custom wireless datalink systems.
Something unique about you that no one knows.
JC: As much as I love the UD blog, if somehow I have kept a secret from EVERYONE for this long I certainly am not going to let it out on this forum!
Jared is indeed the best athlete many people have never heard of. He’s not on Facebook, but has heli-kayaked in New Zealand, climbed over 50 5.13 routes, biked, climbed, run, and canyoneered all over, and dragged my sorry *ss through the scratchiest bushes you’ve ever seen. Instead of quitting school and asking outdoor companies to sponsor him, he’s the Lead Engineer at a high-profile firm; instead of talking about himself on social media he spends quality time with his family, and rather than thinking it’s cool to live out the back of truck, he designed, built, and lives in a Net-Positive House: it produces more energy than it uses for all its heating, lighting, and even transportation requirements.
Sometimes nice guys do finish first.