MORGAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — John Kelly was one of three finishers in this year’s Barkley Marathons.

The 100-mile race through the mountains takes place in Frozen Head State Park, and competitors have 60 hours to complete the trek. Only 40 people are chosen to compete in the event each year.

Once John Kelly learned about the event, he was determined to compete. He is originally from Morgan County and grew up nearby where the event is held.

“It just really stuck with me as this huge goal that I had in mind, to be able to go back and run in my own mountains and represent the community,” Kelly said.

Kelly first competed in the Barkley Marathons in 2015.

“I was very inexperienced, it was a bit of a shock for me and my family that I got in. So, that was a huge learning experience for me,” he said.

Though he did not finish the race that year or the next, he became the 15th person ever to complete it when he ran again in 2017.

“The biggest thing is probably breaking it down into manageable chunks,” he said. “I’m never standing there at the start thinking I’ve got to do how many loops? How many miles? And how many feet of climbing over the terrain that I know is out there? It’s you know I’m going to make it up this first hill.”

Now that Kelly has completed the marathons twice, he is familiar with the race but also has a history with the area it covers.

“My family’s been at the land right there across from Frozen Head State Park for about 200 years now, so I grew up there, I knew those mountains, I love those mountains,” he said.

Kelly Mountain in Frozen Head State Park is named after his family, and he said getting to return home is one of the best parts of coming back to compete.

“It did feel like I’m kind of having my friends over to my place, showing them around out in the woods and get to showcase my home mountains,” he said.

As for Kelly competing next year, he says, “We’ll see.”

“It is something I enjoy now, and so I do see [myself] continuing to do it at some point. I’m one short right now of the record of most finished so it’d be nice to match that.”

Kelly completed the race in 58 hours and 42 minutes.  Aurélien Sanchez and Karel Sabbe also finished the race this year.