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. I’m now less than 20 miles away. If I can get through today, I am golden (or less screwed) . A few hours into the day, I get a thought. I’m so tired of jumping from rock to rock on technical downhill sections. The elevation feels like nothing. This is one of 4 blog articles on the Long Trail in addition posts on Instagram and Strava that I’m currently writing. We relish the moment. This is particularly sad, because I love nuts. This becomes particularly problematic when I am going uphill. The clock hits 6AM, then 6:10AM, then 6:20AM. A runner just set a new record on Vermont’s Long Trail. And, yes, you looked “HORRIFIC” right at the finish and only “terrible” just a short while after ð. I begin to experience a little more comfort as I start descending the other side of White Rocks Mountain. Source Runner's World. It’s done it’s job, but I have a hard time accessing food and water with the draped poncho covering me. Time for camp. 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? I plug my Petzl Nao headlamp into my battery pack. “In 2015, I got destroyed by it, so it’s been in the back of my mind since.”. His goal: 43 days. 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. Day falls as I start my climb up White Rocks Mountain. Bits and pieces of my memory from my 2015 attempt come back to me. I’m going to squeeze every last drop of energy out of this thing. Despite not being by my side, she is with me. I’d be two hours behind Basham’s record, but I’d be done and proud. McConaughy beat the supported FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail that year—it took him 53 days, 6 hours, and 37 minutes—but the attempt took its toll. Food is harder to eat, particularly nuts. I have 8.5 miles to go. Well, this isn’t good. Time to for the real deal. On day one, I experienced multiple ankle twists. I’m 28 years old, going on a reckless adventure on the oldest Long Path in the United States. The Best Affordable GPS Watches for Runners, He Overcame Addiction and Ran Off 216 Pounds, Hereâs Why You Should Fit in More Morning Workouts, Running Backpacks For Hauling All Your Stuff, This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. The hiking community is overwhelming white. 6/23/2020 4:00:00 PM. The trail traverses a lot exposed rock, and I’m not even close to the top. It is like night and day. Hopefully, the flat will allow me to cover good miles, but I’m not there yet. I double check my phone only to realize that there is still 2% left! On Tuesday, August 25 th at approximately 3 A.M., Joe “String Bean” McConaughy” will attempt to break Travis Wildeboar’s unsupported fastest known time (FKT) of six days, seventeen hours and twenty-five minutes and set a new Long Trail Speed Record. Supported, in … Dreaming Bigger Than Big: Joe McConaughy’s Pacific Crest Trail Supported FKT Eric Senseman on September 3, 2014 / 5 comments “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common … At least I learned not to skimp on water, right? I’m so thankful to have Katie. She has received multiple text messages from me, each more dire than the next. At the time, he was on the middle of a 200-foot boardwalk made of two planks in the pitch dark. 629 Likes, 33 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Day 4 Long Trail FKT. My feet follow instinctively. My man! My mind is clear and there is nothing to do but move forward. Jounrey’s End, Vermont – 8/24/15, 10 PM. I have to stick it out. I have known of you, watched and read your craziness, and had the chance to talk to you once…you are one of those good humans this world has. Did You Know That Santa Claus Is a Marathoner? Let’s do this. Dawn is at 4:30AM, leaving me with 2 hours of sunlight before the 6:29AM five day cutoff. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy did it in a staggering 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. At 2:15AM, well before the peak, I find a decent enough spot to pitch my bivvy and nearby water next to the Bear Hollow Shelter. There are three types of FKT styles, supported, self-supported and unsupported. I find myself even being able to comfortably run on some uphill sections. Joe 'Stringbean' McConaughy sets a new record on the 273 mile Long Trail in Vermont. I also indulge in some power chia balls purchased from the Food Co-op. BUt I’ve only covered 6 miles. You can follow along with his adventures on Instragram, Facebook and Strava. Woof, that’s a lot. With coldness trying to permeate my quilt, I try to catch a little sleep. However, Joe earned his 2,000-miler status with an impressive 45-day, 12-hour, and 15-minute hike. I give a leaf a suspicious glance, pick it off the tree, poke a whole in the middle and place it in between the filter and water bottle as I screw on the top. I need one last spurt of mental energy devise a game plan for the night ahead. Two days after Joe McConaughy (“Stringbean”) set a new unsupported FKT on Vermont’s Long Trail, I interviewed him over Zoom for an hour. With 9 minutes to go I holler in desperation, hoping that Katie will hear me from the southern terminus. The trail is an FKT (Fastest Known Time) classic, boasting five new records since 2018. I have two different options: Heather Anderson, a legend in the FKT community, had been texting me for the few days before the trip. As I look under the quilt, a bright light shines back at me. With the run in the books, McConaughy prepared for his cross-country move this week. On the other side of Route 9, I climb an identically technical 500 foot rock staircase. I start doing the math. And so, we nicely arranged the rocks before hiking the last 4 miles through Massachusetts back to our cars. I try to channel my old cross country days. My heart sinks at this thought. Expecting a full energy recovery, I wait for the breakthrough. The Long Trail has now joined with the Appalachian Trail. My second thought it to turn off my headlamp and navigate by iPhone battery light. More importantly, the rainstorm hit. My name is Joe McConaughy, aka Stringbean. I linger for 10 minutes before putting on my socks under my quilt. My metabolism had a hard time keeping up with the food I was cramming into it on Day 1. Each day, I cherish her response to the multiple daily voice memos that I sent. Only time will tell. Holy crap. There is an inch long, circular gash caused by pack rubbing. Horrid. My phone has about 75%. Finally, the phone dies for real. “But I ended up having the coolest, most challenging night of my running experiences that was so dramatic and exciting. Ugh. I give the bottle a squeeze, and to my utter delight, water doesn’t escape out the threading. I breeze through the first 9 miles in at Jay Peak. 936 Likes, 90 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Long Trail FKT Announcement . If I don’t beat Basham’s record, so what? The only problem is I’m smack dab in the middle of a long stretch of two-by-fours elevated above Sucker Pond. It’s pitch dark. The beauty of an FKT attempt is in the journey itself, not in the finish or the time. “The grossest one I did was an Oreo-almond slushy,” he said. Then, I think back to a few hours ago when I was bombing down Mt. Ethan Allen. Most hikers take 6 months or more to finish the trek. Katie and I hike to the northern terminus, which is a slightly uphill 1.5 mile hike. I run as much of it as I can. Worth. He’s wearing pajama pants and seems to be thoroughly enjoying his thru hike. I know I’m going to hit Camel’s Hump at night. Yellow fluid oozes out. I start cruising through forest. With only 40 miles to go, I’m not longer worried about a foot infection from a popped blister. Then, I’ll be ready to hit the final miles hard. I have a responsibility to take the movement that is happening in our biggest cities and bring it to our trailheads. In 2017, Joe McConaughy set a record by doing an unsupported hike through the Appalachian trail in just 45 days. You are an incredible friend and a fantastic coach. I’m three hours into my night hike/run. The Long Trail weaves through a few roads before beginning a long, slow climb that culminates on Whiteface Mountain. First, my throat starts hurting. FKTs and the outdoor community at large are often regarded as disproportionally white. He carried eight stones with him, each with the name of a Black man or woman who had been murdered by police brutality or societal racism to fundraise for Outdoor Afro. Minimize camp set up and take down. As I set up my bivy, I can’t think but how dumb this plan is. The thought seems tragic. I’ve been hiking the whole day lifting and sucking on my water bottle to try to get whatever water I can. I’m more alert and energized than I have been in days. New Long Trail FKT. “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. I was planning on doing the Long Trail… Thank you for sharing your experiences and look forward to hearing a lot more…, my pre-trip thoughts in my first blog article, supported, self-supported and unsupported, Running the Winter Pemi Loop in Seven Hours, 26 Gifts for the Endurance Athlete in Your Life, Born to Run – Bean Sprouts Book Club – December, How and Why Runners Use Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). After leaving the light on while sleeping on the third night, the battery died. That’s weird… I open my eyes. His feet slid around in his Columbia Trans Alps F.K.T. My real issue is nutrition. My gear and body are both protected from the rain by my Mountain Laurel Design Poncho Tarp. I don’t want to mess with Whiteface at night again. The trail transforms into its only rocky, technical self, the one I cursed for 170 miles. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. I bend over, the GoPro inches off the ground. Three days later, Katie and I started our cross country drive/move to Seattle. On Wednesday, 6/10, I will attempt the unsupported FKT going South on…” I must have turned it on accidentally as I awoke. It’s not looking pretty. We agree it would be best for me to sleep at 9PM and try to regain whatever energy I can. The ultrarunner and PCT and AT record-holder … My throat only has minor stinging. My throat continues to be a problem. The majority of the mud has dried, there are few rocks and roots on the trail and the gains aren’t as extreme. All I’m going to be practicing today on trail is gratitude. Jen and Katie suggested that we leave them at the Southern Terminus as a tribute. McConaughy he planned to go unsupported, meaning he would carry all of his gear and food with him from the start and receive no assistance during his trek. The blister on my right foot popped naturally. That is the real FKT! To my surprise, the trail has faint enough light to navigate at 4:15 AM. But, running on road accentuates just how heavy my pack is. Taking water from a fellow hiker is against the rules and demotes my record attempt to a self-supported FKT. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. We laugh about how ridiculous, yet enjoyable, this whole experience is. Joe McConaughy Crushes FKT on the Long Trail He carried eight stones with him, each with the name of a Black man or woman who had been murdered by … In my final 48 hours, I faced sleep deprivation. The GoPro dies, but I can at least camp here. Descending off the windy peak, the trail is still very technical and a little wet. My GoPro has 5% battery, so I hit record. B Goal: Beat the unsupported record set by Jeff Garmire of 5 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes. 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! Finish or die. Thank you, Katie! My mood shifts towards increasingly irritable. Congratulations Joe! Designed without switchbacks, the Long Trail is known for relentless ups and downs, rocks, roots, and mud. I had to overcome constant self-doubt, a slowed pace, and a dead headlamp and phone, but the burn to finish in under 5 days was relentless. Most thru-hikers who complete the whole trail do so in about a half year. 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. You can chill out. Since the morning, the rain has varied from a faint drizzle to a windy downpour. I look at my watch and notice the battery is at 5%. Joe McConaughy has a serious case of cankles. This time, I thought it was only necessary to carry one. 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. I carry onward. On Day 2, I feel a pain in the back of my throat; kind of like strep throat. Despite all these setbacks, I am cruising. It never really comes. My system needs food. I only slept an hour because I’m cold. My iPhone flashlight shuts off. I get short of breath. I remember laughing at all the challenges that this day has presented. Joe conducts all of his long-distance FKTs “thru-hiker style” (self-supported or unsupported), meaning that he receives no assistance of any kind and hauls his own gear. I try to eat all the food my body will allow, I’m pretty sure I’ve started to hit a significant caloric deficit. At the finish, McConaughy was greeted by his wife and a few friends, who treated him to Kombucha and other liquids he craved. I can’t believe the difference. He’d also carry eight stones—weighing 13.5 ounces in total—with the names of Black victims of police brutality. I try to tackle my least favorite food I packed, banana chips. Ten hours into day two and I’ve done 24 miles, a 2.4 mph pace. This section of the Long Trail has very few rocks, and the downs aren’t that steep, allowing for very efficient running. However, I hadn’t tried using anything that the trail could provide. I enter the alpine zone and am blasted by winds. I need a thought partner that I can talk over such complicated subjects with in a safe space. Sitting by a nice stream, I scarfed down the whole meal in 10 minutes flat. “That’s what Outdoor Afro does so well. I yell again. But when you finished, you looked HORRIFIC.’. All I can do is put my time and energy into worrying about what I control, covering as much ground as possible. The trail has turned wet, which is when the Long Trail gets real nasty. 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 Tuohyâs 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. When the light comes, I need to be ready to go. On August 31, 2017, Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy completed his northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Immediately upon putting on my shoe, I realize I am mistaken. My favorite comment a few hours later was from Evren, ‘Right now, you look terrible. I start running any uphill section that I can handle. Just before 9PM, I set up camp with about 180 miles to go. 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. I look at my battery, somehow the went from two of three bars to one flashing bar in two hours. Wife Katie and Hunter Hall were also on-hand to add color and field questions from the 300-person live audience. My gaze is locked on the trail. To no ones surprise, they sucked on day two. I find out what happens when the O-ring is gone: the only way to get your filter to work is by strongly sucking on the filter. Back in my familiar state of being, hiking, my body comes around to the idea of moving. At the beginning, I was obsessed with timing, pace and progress. I’m having a hard time running for more than 30 seconds downhill. My next problem quickly arises. McConaughy crushed the mileage he needed by the time he settled down to rest, which he did daily from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Trouble struck on day two, though, as heavy rain wrecked the trail from 3 a.m. until noon, making an already technical terrain even more challenging. Shocked, I squeeze the bottle again. My feet are ghastly white and I can tell I’m getting blisters on the arch of my foot. I need to hit at least 50 miles if I want to challenge Basham’s record. He had captured fastest known times (FKTs) on the Pacific Crest Trail in California and the Appalachian Trail (AT)—the latter of which he still holds the self-supported record. After 42 miles that day, I cuddle up just past Middlebury Gap. I am beyond words. With only 41 miles to go, I’d covered the last 27 miles in 8.5 hours. Caution to the wind, I try to hold this pace until the big incline of Stratton. The time is counting down and the finish doesn’t seem any closer. I am more familiar with and inclined towards option one, but she adamantly defended ‘dirt naps’ (30-45 minute power naps). “If it didn’t have at least 110 calories per ounce, it wasn’t worth taking,” McConaughy said. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. As the wind howls, I meander up the trail. Oh crap is my first thought. The battery must have gone from low power to no power since I last used it, because it won’t turn on. Leading up to Stratton Mountain, the last true mountain of trail, there is a long section of flat section. The iPhone is considerably less powerful, but I’m going up a steep climb so I don’t need to move fast. I hit it hard. All I have left is 34% iPhone battery. My legs burn and my heart rate skyrockets. I have at least 65 miles to go. Exhaustion and cold feed my weariness. The trail which starts at Springer Mountain, GA., and finishes at the Summit of Mt. Last true Mountain of Trail get desperate tomorrow is overcome with joy that these people be... 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