New Speed Record on the Appalachian Trail

HikeItForward-Final-MediumEat and Run BookScott Jurek is a world-class ultramarathon runner and author of a New York Times bestseller, Eat and Run. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota but now makes his home near Boulder, Colorado. This young man was born in October of 1973, making him forty-one years old. Scott was also the talk of the Appalachian Trail this summer as he set a new speed record for completing the trail. Only Sunday, July 12, he reached the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine 46 days, eight hours and eight minutes after departing from Springer Mountain in Georgia on May 27, 2015.  He needed to average close to 50 miles a day in order to traverse the 2,189 mile trek.

Jennifer Pharr Davis 7The previous record was held by Jennifer Pharr Davis, set in 2011, with a time of 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. That’s right, he only beat her time by three hours and twelve minutes! I personally feel each should wear the speed crown. Jennifer hiked the Appalachian trail SOBO (starting in Maine and hiking to Georgia) while Scott ran NOBO (from Springer to Katahdin). The trail has major, but different, challenges depending on the direction of the experience. I advocate for two records: the fastest NOBO hike and the fastest SOBO hike.

Another amazing contrast between these two amazing individuals is Jennifer Pharr Davis almost exclusively hiked the trail involving incredibly long hours each day. Scott Jurek, known as an ultramarathoner, ran a great deal through the fourteen states of the AT. I stand with open mouth when I consider what both of these athletes accomplished. But, for me, there is something especially extraordinary about Jennifer’s walk in the woods.

Unfortunately Scott’s victory on top of Katahdin is not without some controversy generated from Baxter State Park. The time of the hike is based on an honor system and is not a concern for the park, but when Scott Jurek celebrated his ascent of Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park officials were not pleased with his behavior. Scott was handed three citations for violating park rules during the festivities atop Maine’s iconic peak. The citations were for consuming alcohol within the park, hiking with a group larger than 12 people, and littering. I really don’t know the legitimacy of the citations but it is a shame that Baxter State Park officials are developing a bad portrait of the thru-hiker and are considering closing the mountain as the northern terminus.

Jurek book photo found

Davis photo found

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Jennifer Pharr Davis, Mount Katahdin, Scott Jurek, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Leave a comment

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