As I depart, I wonder how much different life would be if I didn’t feel this desire to push the extreme limits of the human body. Person-Person On June 15 Joe "Stringbean" McConnaughy took an entire DAY off the previous best Unsupported time on the oldest long trail in the US, Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail. Hell, I’m in Vermont, one of the whitest states in the US. It takes me a few minutes of rolling around in my quilt to finally take my socks off of my swollen feet. Could I possibly finish before nightfall tomorrow? We took a photo with them. My phone has about 75%. 11:20PM. What was left was cold, mushy, bland and terrible Fritos. I slip and slide a few times on steep rocks, thankful to not have any major falls. I immediately curl up in my sleeping quilt. New Long Trail Men’s FKT on the 273 mile Vermont Long Trail - 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes ⛰⚡️. My headlamp goes into low power mode. The trail is an FKT (Fastest Known Time) classic, boasting five new records since 2018. Watch now. His goal: 43 days. I see about 6-7 thru hikers on day 1, the majority of which have been on trail in a similar time frame. To finish in time, McConaughy hiked about 19 hours a day, averaging 54.5 miles per day. Today is the day. At about two miles in, it looks like I am averaging 5 mph. The trail transforms into its only rocky, technical self, the one I cursed for 170 miles. I start running any uphill section that I can handle. Referencing my Green Mountain Club Long Trail map, it appears I’ve covered approximately 40 miles. Maximize physical and mental rest and break up the night. My stomach grows queasy when I hit the post button on Instagram, worried about my social responsibility and how people might react. I examine the filter and notice a small plastic O-ring is suspiciously missing. Mt Ellen to Mt Abraham is particularly dry stretch of trail. In fact, it only accentuates the significant pain in my feet from my blisters. You are an incredible friend and a fantastic coach. “Is there any water up ahead?” I ask. 273 miles and 65,000ft of elevation gain in less than 6 days. I am beyond words. Despite everything going on, I’M DOING IT. That’s an average of about 48 miles per day on the rugged AT, people! I start to connect the dots – I had set my alarm to AM instead of PM! Here we go. For anyone reading, that was really my first step into having an active opinion on Black Lives Matter. Despite all these setbacks, I am cruising. shoes, and the resulting friction led to bad blisters during what he called his toughest day. With a rainstorm coming tomorrow, we debate how bad the weather is going to be. See links below. “If I had a full headlamp charge and power hiked the second half of the day, I would’ve probably finished sleep deprived and a wreck around 3:30 or 4 in the morning,” he said. On 6/10, Joe McConaughy will attempt to break the Long Trail FKT in Vermont. I double check my phone only to realize that there is still 2% left! Jounrey’s End, Vermont – 8/24/15, 10 PM. The beauty of an FKT attempt is in the journey itself, not in the finish or the time. Oh god, no. I run into my first hiker, Hero, shortly after Jay Peak. Wife Katie and Hunter Hall were also on-hand to add color and field questions from the 300-person live audience. There is an inch long, circular gash caused by pack rubbing. Its endless rocks, roots, exposed peaks and steep climbs make it unlike anything I’ve ever run/power hiked/frolicked thru. Joe 'Stringbean' McConaughy set a new record on the Appalachian Trail today, beating both unsupported and supported times. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. There are still a lot of rocks, but I’m making great time. I set up my shelter with a lot of vigor and crash around 9PM. Who cares? In a meditative-like state, all I’m processing is the incoming terrain – the rocks, roots, branches, trail markers, trees and mud. Then, I think back to a few hours ago when I was bombing down Mt. Life isn’t too bad. Particularly for my wife Katie. His feet slid around in his Columbia Trans Alps F.K.T. I dump some in a garbage can. The only thing that my throat agrees to are Fritos. With all these thoughts on my mind, what can I do for myself, but also what can I do to make our outdoor spaces accessible for all? Mt. I know I’m going to hit Camel’s Hump at night. My second climb of the night goes over Mt. I hit trail at 5:15 AM. Three days later, Katie and I started our cross country drive/move to Seattle. I bumped into two European hikers after Mt. He insists that I take his number in case I need a resupply (I didn’t tell him I was attempting an FKT), and I carry on. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Glucosamine Supplements May Help You Live Longer, Sara Hall: Second-Fastest American of All Time, This Nutrient May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease, How to Run Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns, Jenna Hutchins Breaks Katelyn Tuohy’s 5K Record, This Hot Cocoa Bomb Has a Baby Yoda Marshmallow, Why the Middle of a Run Always Feels the Toughest, Daily Exercise Is the Antidote for Sitting Disease. I had multiple sources of motivation to push me through the rocks, mud, sleep deprivation and everything you experience out there: You can read about my pre-trip thoughts in my first blog article in the series! Bummer, but c’est la vie! Movement is slow going. I try to feel confident about my decision, however I get the feeling like it was a giant waste of time. Here we go again. On day one, I experienced multiple ankle twists. I’m on familiar territory. As the wind howls, I meander up the trail. It totally capped off the run in a great way.”. 6/23/2020 4:00:00 PM. Now it felt like a cakewalk. Yellow fluid oozes out. I’m about to go off on a lengthy day-by-day recount of an epic five day adventure. Keep showing me the way of running and adventuring with a solid mix of love, purpose, and balance. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy did it in a staggering 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. It never really comes. 68 miles (52 miles + 7 miles + 9 miles), ~Baker Peak to Maple Hill to Sucker Pond. I squeeze the Dasani bottle and put it to my lips. Joe McConaughy declared his intentions for pursuing the Appalachian Trail speed record on June 21, 2017, in a Facebook post. Source Runner's World. In 2015, I camped on top of Whiteface, but had a mildly traumatic experience going up the steep climb to the peak. Horrid to White Rocks to ~Baker Peak. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. Long Trail Announcement – Part ILong Trail FKT Recap – Part II (congrats, you’re here)Long Trail Gear List & Review – Part III Long Trail Food & Sleep Strategy – Part IV. I channel my inner Forest Gump. There are three types of FKT styles, supported, self-supported and unsupported. My pack isn’t that bad! My iPhone shuts off a second time. The trail traverses a lot exposed rock, and I’m not even close to the top. Boy, was I wrong. I have to stick it out. Booyah. The joy is in the experience and if I can hit one or two of my goals with a smile on my face, I am a happy boy. I am more familiar with and inclined towards option one, but she adamantly defended ‘dirt naps’ (30-45 minute power naps). Lightbulb! Drew covers a variety of subjects for Runner’s World and Bicycling, and he specializes in writing and editing human interest pieces while also covering health, wellness, gear, and fitness for the brand. Going into the final night, I had one option: run as far as physically possible. However, Joe earned his 2,000-miler status with an impressive 45-day, 12-hour, and 15-minute hike. I do a quick battery check. My energy levels are much too low. Yet, it was the Long Trail, a 273-mile trek, that has escaped him since an unsuccessful FKT attempt five years ago. So much. Cruise, hit 50-60 miles. Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the U.S-Mexico border on the 2,660-mile trail … The clock hits 6AM, then 6:10AM, then 6:20AM. My adrenaline is pumping. The filter allows me to refill water directly from streams and drink straight from the bottle through the filter. I can tell I am hurting. He figured this would be an appropriate site for a farewell to the East Coast after living in Massachusetts for a decade. New Long Trail Men’s FKT on the 273 mile Vermont Long Trail - 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes ⛰⚡️. I hope that our fundraiser for Outdoor Afro is going well and by using my voice and social media, at least a few individuals will look at this topic differently, become an ally or take action. That feels gooooooood. I’d be two hours behind Basham’s record, but I’d be done and proud. That’s when I decided to go until it’s out and camp wherever I’m stuck.”. I wanted this one. Designed without switchbacks, the Long Trail is known for relentless ups and downs, rocks, roots, and mud. I don’t want to mess with Whiteface at night again. The miles continue to tick off, the hours continue to move ahead. Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy was preparing for a cross-country move from Boston to Seattle when he started thinking about the Long Trail, the famous path winding through the mountains of Vermont. With this in the back of my mind, I decide to leave about two handfuls of Fritos in case I get desperate tomorrow. I’m less than 79 miles away. The trail is 273 miles long with 65,000ft of elevation gain and is the most challenging terrain I’ve ever encountered over a prolonged distance, and I’ve run both the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail. This means that my battery has is almost dead. Dehydration leads to a whole bunch of issues, so I do my best. How Joe McConaughy Crushed the Long Trail FKT By Nearly 24 Hours. In my final 48 hours, I faced sleep deprivation. In 2017, Joe McConaughy set a record by doing an unsupported hike through the Appalachian trail in just 45 days. He carried eight stones with him, each with the name of a victim of police brutality to fundraise for Outdoor Afro. I decide I’m going to risk it. Boy, a hot shower sounds nice right now. I put on Aquaphor Lip Repair. Gloves are off. Luckily, I saved those Fritos! The water doesn’t rush into my mouth, rather, it is forced out of the threading where the Sawyer filter is screwed onto the bottle. I feel my lower back. I’m having a hard time deciding, but sleeping now and following my original strategy is the only thing that makes sense. With only 2% battery on my COROS watch, my last remaining electronically charged item, I set my alarm for 4AM. Ethan Allen. I try this for a minute and get less than a mouthful of water. And he’s using the FKT as a positive force for the greater hiking community. My throat only has minor stinging. In 2014, after setting out on the Pacific Crest Trail for the first time, he broke the supported speed record. It is like night and day. Expecting a full energy recovery, I wait for the breakthrough. My legs lose all strength and I struggle to stand. He carried eight stones with him, each with the name of a victim of police brutality to fundraise for Outdoor Afro. That’s nice. “Meltzer’s record is 45 days, 22 hours, and I am assuming a few things will go pretty wrong, so I think 43 days would be very, very bold,” he says. Finish or die. I’m now less than 20 miles away. It has to at least last through tonight. To no ones surprise, they sucked on day two. And so, we nicely arranged the rocks before hiking the last 4 miles through Massachusetts back to our cars. As I set up my bivy, I can’t think but how dumb this plan is. Despite being self-reliant on trail, (well, almost), I still needed Katie’s loving help and support to get to the start line. To set the mark, he calculated every ounce of nutrition (totaling 9,000 calories a day) and gear he’d need for the journey. Finally, the phone dies for real. My body is slow to move. The next thing I hear is Katie’s voice to wake me up. I begin to experience a little more comfort as I start descending the other side of White Rocks Mountain. 936 Likes, 90 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Long Trail FKT Announcement . Unfortunately, I make two more mistakes with water. “As I’m going, I see 24 percent, 18 percent, 12 percent, and then 3 percent. She has received multiple text messages from me, each more dire than the next. And somehow, Katie appeared in my dreams to make sure I didn’t sleep through the night. On Wednesday, 6/10, I will attempt the unsupported FKT going South on…” set by Jeff Garmire in 2019 with a time of 5 days, 23 hours, 48 minutes, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, beating the the previous unsupported record by almost 24 hours, Go Faster on the Trails in the Rabbit FKT Shorts. As a running coach, I always encourage my athletes to have A, B, and C goals. Shocked, I squeeze the bottle again. With the run in the books, McConaughy prepared for his cross-country move this week. I have to hike 400 feet off trail to a very nice mountain stream and guzzled down an entire bottle after I applied a new leaf. You can have it.” Upon rewriting this experience, it feels like I’m reenacting The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Primus, where the devil offers me a sip of water in exchange for my soul. “Well, if you want some of my water, we are about to get off trail. I’m still lethargic. I can’t believe the difference. Particularly for my wife Katie. The increased air pressure forces the unfiltered water through the 0.1 micron filter and out the other side, allowing you to drink clean water by simply squeezing the water bottle. “As a white dude, I don’t know the challenges people go through, but I can help promote and create a more encouraging environment through education and meet ups,” McConaughy said. Caution to the wind, I try to hold this pace until the big incline of Stratton. It is now the afternoon, and the rain is clearing up. What the heck? Ill happily answer any questions! His knees are puffy, swollen masses, walking is “a chore” and his appetite is unrelenting. (This is why Stringbean set the FKT on the PCT, the AT, and now the Long Trail, while you and I did not.) The left foot is now 3x more sore than it was before. Many sections of now feature mud. Finally, I hit Stratton Pond and the 1,700ft climb begins. Am I going to be just short? No goal is more important than the other. The terrain is so much nicer. Camel’s Hump is anything but boring. Woof, the blisters look real bad now. I funnel a ziplock bag of cold, mushy, salty and delicious Fritos to the face. Despite not being by my side, she is with me. My feet follow instinctively. I don’t feel like much of anything except sleeping. This is one of 4 blog articles on the Long Trail in addition posts on Instagram and Strava that I’m currently writing. I don’t hear any response. First, my throat starts hurting. I text back and forth with Katie. Nevertheless, after about 3 miles of painful running, the pain subsides. Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. What an engaging, inspiring read – similar to you as a human. I also indulge in some power chia balls purchased from the Food Co-op. Do I have COVID? I can’t camp here. YIKES! I’m having a hard time running for more than 30 seconds downhill. Beyond this new water struggle, I haven’t even covered 100 miles in the first 2 days. The Long Trail weaves through a few roads before beginning a long, slow climb that culminates on Whiteface Mountain. FINISH. You can follow along with his adventures on Instragram, Facebook and Strava. Worth. However, with my decision to stop is reaffirmed when I try use my headlamp. I start to blame myself for the impending headlamp battery issue, for not being faster, for even attempting the Long Trail in the first place. After a little trial and error, I realize I am pretty much relegated to power hiking. McConaughy’s pack weighed 27 pounds when he started at 6:30 a.m on June 10. Time to for the real deal. In the moment, not much. His hope was to complete the Long Trail in under five days, which would be well under the previous FKT set by Jeff Garmire in 2019 with a time of 5 days, 23 hours, 48 minutes. I go through my options to finish. I trek on for a few minutes until I find a flat spot to set up camp and pass out. It’s go time. He chose Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that supports reconnecting African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through outdoor recreation. I remember laughing at all the challenges that this day has presented. The hiking community is overwhelming white. “That’s what Outdoor Afro does so well. Suddenly, the light on my headlamp dims. Katie kindly carries the bag to the start and remarks that the bag is outrageously heavy, giving me a lot of confidence pre-trail. I plug my Petzl Nao headlamp into my battery pack. I’m 16 miles away, going at an all out effort, and am trying to sleep? Perhaps the Fritos will be the only food that goes down easy. Back on trail, the food doesn’t sit well at first. His final time was 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes, beating the the previous unsupported record by almost 24 hours. Plus, I’m not sure if my headlamp and flashlight will last two more overnights. Sleep 4 hours from 11-3. I’m three hours into my night hike/run. I have Fritos, trail mix, oreos, plantain chips, 2 snickers, a salami stick and lots of nuts. B Goal: Beat the unsupported record set by Jeff Garmire of 5 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes. The wetness is taking a toll on my feet, they ache and I sense a blister forming, but I can’t worry about that now. 629 Likes, 33 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Day 4 Long Trail FKT. “I wanted to go under five days, so I started sprinting through the night, trying to figure out how to best position the phone’s flashlight to see rocks and roots,” he said. More importantly, the rainstorm hit. Bits and pieces of my memory from my 2015 attempt come back to me. (He’s raised over $6,000 so far, and is aiming to hit $12,000. What an accomplishment! With 9 minutes to go I holler in desperation, hoping that Katie will hear me from the southern terminus. With anywhere from 24 to 30 hours to go, his phone’s flashlight with a severely depleted battery would have to carry him as far as it could on the final night. Joe 'Stringbean' McConaughy sets a new record on the 273 mile Long Trail in Vermont. If I try to transition to an uphill climb shortly after running, it feels like I have been punched in the chest. Joe McConaughy and The AT. Oh well, I’m in the zone. At 4 miles in, my pace looks closer to 4 mph. This is the underrated part of the FKT where your problem solving skills and knowledge are more important than your physical fitness and ability to crank out miles. Congratulations Joe! If only I had a guy with a boombox playing Rage Against the Machine running beside me. Searching for any excuse to stop, I take off my shoes. On August 31, 2017, Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy completed his northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. My man! I’m now fully exposed on top of 4,000ft mountain and it is 1AM. Not once have I felt anxious or unsafe due to the color my skin. All the sudden, it happens. The FKT is a true classic. I chuckle to myself as I bound through the dark Vermont Forest. “I bonked hard or it was sleep deprivation on day four, and I just needed as many calories as possible.”. I look at my watch. I’ve been hiking the whole day lifting and sucking on my water bottle to try to get whatever water I can. Going after the unsupported FKT, I cannot use any other resource other than what the trail provides. We relish the moment. I still have 170 miles to go, and the next 70 are supposed to be the nastiest. The light is coming from my headlamp. The rocks, roots and climbs are relentless. Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy has plenty to share. And, yes, you looked “HORRIFIC” right at the finish and only “terrible” just a short while after 😉. Time for camp. The trail which starts at Springer Mountain, GA., and finishes at the Summit of Mt. After a few seconds rest, my strength returns and I can hike again. February 25, 2019 Doug Williams Ew. The trail continues to be technical and I’m excited to hit the flat section around Vt. Route 15. I recently tested negative and the symptoms didn’t quite line up. Did You Know That Santa Claus Is a Marathoner? This becomes particularly problematic when I am going uphill. My body shivers uncontrollably, trying to heat up. My headlamp is on. I need to recharge my flashlight, but if I can get a full charge I probably have 6 hours of light left. I reflect on the name written on each stone: I passionately write my reflections into my phone while hiking, with some back and forth with Katie. I enter the alpine zone and am blasted by winds. Every so often I check my watch. I take in as much water as efficiently as my janky system will allow. She has been pulling 20 mile days herself and is over halfway done with her northbound hike. I don’t want to eat anything even though I know it will help. All I can do is put my time and energy into worrying about what I control, covering as much ground as possible. How we test gear. Thoughts of pace and FKTs leave my mind, right now there is only me and the mountain. My feet are wet. As I put on my Pa’lante Pack and laced up my Columbia Montrail Trans Alp FKTs, I felt a sense of gratitude and appreciation that didn’t exist in the first 3 days. I need one last spurt of mental energy devise a game plan for the night ahead. Each day, I cherish her response to the multiple daily voice memos that I sent. At the time, he was on the middle of a 200-foot boardwalk made of two planks in the pitch dark. It’s not looking pretty. Day falls as I start my climb up White Rocks Mountain. My GoPro has 5% battery, so I hit record. I get out my water bottle, a plastic Dasani bottle fitted with a screw-on Sawyer Micro Squeeze filter. If I was calorie deprived, I would have bounced back after my oreo smoothie. After a few uses, I realize that the leaves are only good for one use, meaning I’d have to replace the old leaf each time I took off the top. The battery drops to 15%. September 2, 2017 Averaging an amazing 48 miles a day, Joe McConaughy crushed the previous unsupported speed record for hiking the Appalachian Trail. That hasn’t happened before. Leading up to Stratton Mountain, the last true mountain of trail, there is a long section of flat section. Just before 9PM, I set up camp with about 180 miles to go. Two hours later, I come across my first water source. My mind goes through all the hypothetical situations: I am motivated by a thought. I’m now dropping 500 feet to cross Vt. Route 9. My gear and body are both protected from the rain by my Mountain Laurel Design Poncho Tarp. Since leaving the northern section, the trail feels like buffed out West Coast Trail. Luckily, it seemed fairly flat. After 42 miles that day, I cuddle up just past Middlebury Gap. Over the next 30 minutes, I drink a water, kombucha, hot chai tea, and Heady Topper. He also consumed a DiGiorno pizza the day after while he stayed off his feet that kept swelling up like elephants. I don’t care if I’m breathing heavily. Plus, the pitter patter of rain starts to fall as I wolf down my last few bites of food and close my eyes. When the light comes, I need to be ready to go. Woof, that’s a lot. I was planning on doing the Long Trail… The Long Trail has now joined with the Appalachian Trail. His solution was to make “trail smoothies” where McConaughy would take some of the food he brought—for instance, a bag of Fritos—put it in a plastic bag, add water, shake it up, and drink the makeshift concoction. In about 2.5 hours, I’ve covered eight miles. 45 miles (39miles + 6 miles), ~Bear Hollow Shelter to Bamforth Ridge to ~Montclair Glen Shelther. New Long Trail FKT. My throat is now undeniably painful. Taking water from a fellow hiker is against the rules and demotes my record attempt to a self-supported FKT. This fuels me to run up the last significant uphill. The outdoor community, especially in trail running and hiking, is predominantly white. Pinching my nails together, I pierce the skin. If I don’t beat Basham’s record, so what? They are the change we need to see in the world and on the trails.”. Recorded half of my runs due to low watch battery. An intense burning sensation stings the back of my throat whenever I try to eat them. Food is harder to eat, particularly nuts. On August 10, 2014, 23-year-old Joe "String Bean" McConaughy—a recent college grad who grew up in Seattle—took his last steps on the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail, crossing into Canada’s Manning Park exactly 53 days, 6 hours, and 37 minutes after setting off from the Mexican border. Summiting Stratton Mountain doesn’t do anything to cheer me up. I find myself even being able to comfortably run on some uphill sections. How much charge will my headlamp really have? Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy’s new record is one for the books — and not just because of his FKT. My feet now have two large blisters on each arch, my throat hurts more and my shoulders and back are sore from the pack. He averaged about 50 miles a day and completed the journey in an unsupported fashion. My water bottle + filter + leaf system is somewhat successful. As I trudge up Stratton Mountain, my heart rate still spikes and my legs are weak. 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