Running the Appalachian Trail

Just over a month ago we did a blog post about Karl Meltzer, an ultra-runner from Utah, attempting to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. Well, guess what: he finished and broke the record! He arrived at Springer Mountain at 3:38 am on September 18. He completed the 2189 mile trail in 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes. For his final stretch, Karl ran 83 miles in 24 hours.

On Saturday the 17th, former AT thru-hike record holder Scott Jurek came into Mountain Crossings to check out the store -he didn’t get to stop by the year before because he was running the trail. Scott has been running with Karl for some sections, and he was happy his friend was going to break the record. Later that day, Karl’s support crew came by and prepared for his arrival. They were all very friendly and had enjoyed the journey from Maine. Karl came through Mountain Crossings around 6:30 pm and sat down for only 20 seconds before he was on his way again. Congratulations are in order to Karl for accomplishing this great feat!
   14322515_715438658596923_1525010223794558950_nKarl and support team finish on top of Springer Mountain

“Karl always told me he loved the Appalachian Trail.
We have spent many days on the AT. I only hike the trail; he runs over those rocks!
I always thought I just exposed him to the mountains; he stayed and made a life and career there.
He has taken me t
o the mountains, deserts and canyons, all because of this “running thing.”
-Karl’s Dad

What does ultra-running mean?

Technically, ultra-running is running a distance longer than a marathon, 26.2 miles, in one go. Races usually have a predetermined distance, but in some cases there is only a set time period. For example, there may be a 100 mile race, or a 24 hour race to see how far you can run. Ultra-running has become very popular the last twenty years, and there are numerous races around the globe.

   14329916_715281785279277_3064944152646075519_nKarl running on the Appalachian Trail

Speeds on the Appalachian Trail

There has been plenty of criticism about hiking the trail too fast, but a common phrase in trail culture is, “hike your own hike!” Karl wanted to break the speed record, so great for him. Plenty of other hikers want to really push their bodies every day and see how far they can go, and we should allow them to do that. They might not care about seeing every overlook or stopping in every town. Each person has their own goals and they should not be judged for them. If you don’t want to hike fast, then don’t! Don’t let other people pressure you to go faster than you want. Encouragement and pushing yourself can be good, but no need to go farther just to appease others.


Karl and support crew taking a break at Mountain Crossings

Is Meltzer’s record already broken?

Kaiha Bertollini posted on Facebook just 13 hours later that she had finished the AT, unsupported, and about 12 hours faster than Meltzer. There has been some speculation surrounding her claims, so she is currently asking for verification from people who saw her along the way. Regardless of the outcome, great job to her as well as all others completing the trail this year.


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