It’s a big year for big trail records! While Karl starts on the AT in just four days, Peter Bakwin, on his excellent new website, takes note of a lot of other activity:
“FOUR people are separately going for speed records on the Tahoe Rim Trail over the next couple of months … and David Horton has been reporting about Jennifer Pharr’s attempt to break the women’s record on the AT as well.”
Most recently, Paul Pomeroy of Lyons, Colorado just broke Jonathan Basham’s Colorado Trail Record. (Jonathan was supported by Andrew Thompson, the current AT Record holder, and vice versa). Paul went “under the radar” by choice; almost no one knew he was even on the Trail. “I did it entirely for personal reasons”, he notes. “I didn’t want to talk it up. I wanted to do it”. Paul is well-known in local running circles as an outstanding athlete, with a sharp wit and sense of honor. Fortunately he is also gracious and shared a few words with me about his recent trip:
It was definitely arduous. That’s an understatement. It just about finished me off. Let me just say I’m not looking to repeat this anytime soon.
Getting toward Denver the heat became a problem. My feet were swollen and my shin hurt, but decided to go for broke and pay the price after. I taped it up, took some Advil, and did 74 miles the last day. I left at 1 AM and reached Waterton (the northern terminous) at 12:15 AM the next night. That was on about 1 hour of sleep to begin with. I basically made a last desperate burst to Waterton, looking at my watch the whole way.
Paul clocked 8 days, 12 hrs, 14 mins, 5 seconds, bettering the previous mark by about one and a quarter hours. The record is tight! Paul shared more interesting thoughts:
I could only move so fast. So its how long can you keep moving? It’s like nothing else I’ve ever done. A sleep deprivation thing. Sometimes I couldn’t walk a straight line, sometimes my eyes couldn’t focus. 18-20 hours a day … it’s hard to believe a person can keep it going … not real high on the fun factor, that’s for sure.
My crew was great; obviously it was a team effort. It was my wife Suzanne, my mother, and my son Ethan was along too. We only had a couple of missteps; cost maybe 2 hours total. We had a pop-up camper which was essential.
Paul also holds the unsupported CT Record – a trip whereby one carries all of one’s own food, obtaining only water along the way. Peter offers an excellent description: “In another of his classic trips, Paul Pomeroy attacked the CT unsupported in 2006 — with a vow of silence for the entire trip. Paul finished in 14d9h30m, dropping 16 lbs of body weight that he could ill-afford to lose.”
Towards the end of his CT run, In a very unusual twist, Paul met Sam Thompson running the other direction, with the same intention:
I was surprised to meet Sam on the Trail, going the other way. There’s only a one month period when you can do these things, so I thought I’d do it now and maybe have the Record for one year. While I’m not exactly going to root for him to break my record, I’m not against him either … he’s a nice guy, and I set out to do a certain thing, and I did it, so I’m happy. Someone will always be faster … I thought it was possible to do this in 8 days flat, and I couldn’t do that … someone else probably can, if they can run more. When Jonathan did it he was 29; that’s a good age … I’m 47, and I don’t know if I have another one of these left in me.
I emailed him my time, so he would know. That’s only fair; I knew Basham’s time, and went for it, so he should know mine.
Note: As of now, Sam has ticked 330 miles in the first 6 days, the same as Paul.