The season is gearing up! Here are just a few of the Big Trail record attempts developing.
COLORADO TRAIL – David Horton
The professor emeritus of multi-day trail records is back! David set the record on the Appalachian Trail in 1991, followed up with the record on the Long Trail in 1999, and after a John Muir Trail attempt aborted on the first day, became the first person to do a supported run on the Pacific Crest Trail, establishing in 2005 what is still fastest time. (An excellent video called “The Runner” was made of this project). Last year David tried the biggest big trail of them all, the Continental Divide Trail, but abandoned after the first day, June 7, which went very badly.
This year he hopes to start in Denver at 6 am on July 4 and break Paul Pomeroy’s 2008 record 8 1/2 days later in Durango. This timing would enable him to be on the Hardrock 100 course, a race he has won, when the race itself is taking place – the HR100 and CT courses are briefly the same. That would be remarkable.
Pros: He is tough and experienced. He always musters outstanding crew support (especially in this case, Jonathan Basham).
Cons: There will be plenty of daylight this time of year, but also plenty of snow. South to North might be the better direction. Being 59 years old is real different than being 29 … 39 … 49.
Summary: In his day David was probably the best ultra trail runner anywhere, but this record won’t come easy.
LONG TRAIL – Paul Pomeroy
Po flies under the radar, not just by never appearing at races, but by hardly appearing in public at all! At the same time, he is very honest and honorable, as evidenced by his epic 2008 Colorado Trail record, where he emailed a “competitor” his own finish time so the other runner would have a fair shot at it.
This year in late July he intends to challenge the supported record (Ted Keizer 4 days 13 hours 15 min) but in unsupported fashion. He estimates a low chance of success, but still has the unsupported and self-supported times to shoot for.
I have come to the conclusion that announcing one’s intentions should be done as a matter of courtesy to the recordholder and to any other aspirants.
The idea is to challenge Ted Keizer’s overall speed record, but attempt this in the strictest possible style. Specifically this means using nothing other than water that is not carried from the start by me. No foraging, no begging from passersby, no resupply of any kind. Solo from start (Canadian border) to finish (Mass. border). I will not be observing a vow of silence as I did on my Colorado Trail “No Resupply” effort of a few years ago, mostly because this felt rude at times with regard to my fellow trail users, and also because it seemed pointless. My time goal is 4 days 12 hours or less based on my understanding that the current record is 4 days 13 hours 15 min.. If anyone is aware of a faster time I would greatly appreciate the information prior to my departure on July 19. I have a great respect for the record and the history of attempts on this trail – I do not undertake this lightly and recognize that the likelihood of success may be slim. I firmly believe, however, that I am capable of pulling it off under the right circumstances and I trust that those who may be familiar with my background will agree. It is my intention to finish the trail regardless of my time if at all possible. This will be my second attempt on the Long Trail, I backpacked the length of the trail with two friends 34 years ago at the tender age of fourteen.
Pros: Not unfamiliar with the uniquely difficult New England trails (roots and rocks, no switchbacks). Tough, experienced, extremely focussed.
Cons: Nobody knows where Po is at (is that a “con”? 🙂
Summary: This is solid record, but he can do it. A dry spell would really help, as wet conditions foil many attempts.
JOHN MUIR TRAIL – Kilian Jornet?
This Catalonian speedster suddenly appeared on the European scene in 2007 when at age 19 (!) he entered one of the Buff SkyRunning races. He won that race … and every other he entered that year, winning that World Series. He repeated as Overall Champion in 2008, still never having lost a race. Last year he also tried the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc for the first time … nabbing the course record and winning by almost two hours! This in spite of taking a 15 minute penalty. Scott Jurek ran very well but dropped out again, as did former winner Nikki Kimball and former record holder Marco Olmo (only 20 km from the finish). Kilian was 20 years old.
He now is Salomon’s new “poster boy”, and is being set up for various high-profile running endurance projects. Plans for him to go for the Vertical Kilometer record were cancelled this spring as he was tired and hurt from the Randonee Race season (which he utterly dominates), but he’s currently working on the GR20 across Corsica, and plans call for him to go for the JMT Record in late September. If he does:
Pros: Young. Hasn’t missed yet. Will have major support. Super fit. Young.
Cons: Doesn’t know the route or conditions, and will have minimal daylight.
Summary: This record is somewhat soft. With poor plan he might fail; with good support and advice, he could crush it.
Peter Bakwin’s Fastest Known Time site (from where some of this info derived from)
2008 Multi-Day Wrap-Up (this site)