FKT: Abigail West - S.C.A.R. (TN, NC) - 2023-10-10

Route variation
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
17h 10m 45s
GPS track(s)

Gorgeous day in my favorite place. I started at 3:13 AM and felt relaxed and strong, my husband Michael Ross and Emily Cameron ran the first 30 minutes with me to get settled in the dark as I was kind of nervous going in, but I actually really enjoyed all those solo morning hours in the dark. Saw an unbelievable sunrise up on some of the balds. Emily met me for the last 3 miles up to Clingmans where we had a quick crew stop for food. I was basically exactly on Rachel Lemcke’s FKT split here. Rachel has been incredibly generous with information in planning this which helped tremendously. As I know Liz Derstine was for her—love this culture so much.


My stomach started to get off on what is undoubtedly one of the roughest sections between Clingman’s and Newfound Gap, all that downhill pounding always tests me, but I saw my crew again (Newfound is so chaotic in the middle of the day), and picked up Jason Martin for 10 miles and he provided the perfect reset. We dialed it back a bit and he both distracted me from what I was doing and gave me great words of encouragement. Not sure what would’ve happened without him.


When Jason turned back I put on my headphones and focused on staying steady. With about 15 miles to go I started picking up the downhill pace, and almost all of the time I gained on Rachel’s FKT came in the last 12 miles. My husband Michael met me with 7 miles to go which was a huge blessing because we had a miscommunication and didn’t charge my waist light, but his headlamp uses the same battery. I said bye to him at that last crest and took off with 5 miles to go (he had to use his phone light and came in about 10 minutes after me). I definitely recommend finishing that section in daylight if possible. Fortunately I am fairly confident on that type of terrain (typical AT: wide steps and technical) but it took every last ounce of concentration and energy I had left. I was also pretty depleted as I’d had a hard time getting the calories down those last few hours.


I didn’t realize until the next morning that something happened with my GPS file. I definitely hit stop when touching the symbolic tree finish line at Davenport Gap, but it looks like the GPS stopped tracking earlier up the trail. I finished at 8:24 PM and one of the photos I uploaded was taken at 8:28 PM sitting on the rocks right next to the tree. Emily took that photo a little before Michael arrived.


I am profoundly grateful for Emily Cameron and Michael Ross for their support, belief, time and energy. We camped at the Fontana Dam shelter, got up at 2 am, they ran the first 30 minutes with me, then spent the rest of the day driving around supporting me, running with me for a few stretches, and generally navigating chaos. I know how exhausting of a day it was for them too. This was all of our first times doing anything like this (and this is by far the biggest run I’ve ever done, about 2x the vert, 8 miles longer and 6.5 hours longer)—and we made a few slip ups that they somehow corrected for while allowing me to keep it pretty calm all day. 


SCAR is the perfect test of an ultrarunner and representation of my favorite place on Earth. Technical, rough, so much vert but still a lot of runnable stuff if you can handle the terrain, and stunningly beautiful for the entire way. Happy to help encourage others to try this one!