Fast… Faster… Fastest

Photo Credit: Summits of My Life

photo credit: Summits of My Life

Kilian Jornet is at it again! He just set a new speed record of 11 hours and 40 minutes for a round-trip of Denali’s West Buttress route as part of his “Summits of My Life” project.

According to the press release, Kilian used a combination of skis and crampons to climb the 20,320-foot mountain. The West Buttress speed-record route begins at base camp’s air strip at 7,200 feet altitude, travels 16.6 miles to the summit one way, or 33.2 miles round-trip, and gains over 13,000 feet. Kilian broke the old record by over five hours.

This got me thinking about Fastest Known Times. As reported by Outside Magazine recently, a number of trail runners are taking shots at Fastest Known Times. Outside explained, “They pick a route, decide whether they’ll receive any outside help in the form of food or aid along the way, and try to cover the distance as fast as possible.”

To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about FKTs until Rob Krar broke the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim record last May. Rob crushed the old record and finished the 42 mile route in 6:21:47.

photo credit: Rob Hall

photo credit: Rob Hall

Since that time, it seems like more and more of these are popping up! For example, Hal Koerner and Mike Wolfe covered the John Muir Trail (223 miles) in 3 days, 12 hours and 41 minutes.


Recently, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel covered the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (137 miles) in 41 hours and 49 minutes.

photo credit: Kevin Trautman

photo credit: Kevin Trautman

While these are some of the better known “courses,” there is a website that helps track lesser known courses: Fastest Known Time

I was curious if any of these routes were near me, but I think the closest is a few hours away. However, the Escarpment Trail is right near my parents’ house – maybe I’ll have to give it a try!

While most of us average Joes and plain Janes won’t ever have a shot at fastest known times, I think this is a fun idea. Whenever I run a race, I always like to think about the speedy people who have run there before me. Now I have the opportunity to do that off-road too!

Do you have anywhere near you that would make for an interesting Fastest Known Time course?

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2 Responses to Fast… Faster… Fastest

  1. I live in SE CT, right up the street from a number of the blue-blazed trails. I even manage a section of the Narragansett Trail, which is quite hilly and technical and 21 miles long. Ben Nephew has a couple of FKTs in my area (North-South trail at 70+ miles, Nehantic trail out/back and Narragansett out/back, CT portion), and some of my track club friends have an FKT for an East to West thru run of the Narragansett. Fun stuff!

  2. Dan Button says:

    I would love to start attempting some FKT’s in the Whites of NH, nothing like the feeling of a fast hike!

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