FKT: Andrew Warg - Border Route Trail (MN) - 2021-09-24

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
16h 51m 36s
GPS track(s)

What an adventure!  I have been planning this attempt since last fall and could not have experienced a more rewarding endeavor. 

The day began on the eastern terminus off of otter lake rd.  My Mom (Karen) and Uncle (Gregg) cheered me on as I departed the trailhead a few minutes after 6AM on Friday, September 24th.  After a mile or two on the combined SHT/BRT I took a sharp left and headed on long journey to the west trailhead some 65 miles away.  The first section was relatively smooth, except for a 1 mile detour around mile 7/8.  Upon realizing my mistake I headed back up the spur trail to the Border Route trail.   This detour added an additional two miles to the route.

The 1st aid station was McFarland lake where I picked up my only pacer for the day, Dave Hackworthy.  Dave accompanied me on the longest section of the day without aid (22.8 miles).  We traveled well and started hitting some steep climbs in the section.  The wind picked up and rain started falling.  Around mile 25-30 I started experiencing the biggest mental low of the entire day.  The gravity of the miles ahead started setting in and the fear of running the next 35 miles alone creeped up.  I had two falls during this section, down some slippery rock faces descending two different palisades.  Eventually with Dave's encouragement I came around mentally and was moving well throughout the section.  As I neared the Daniels Lake Spur Trail/BRT intersection my enthusiasm started to build!

The 2nd aid station was located at the Daniels Lake Spur Trail/BRT intersection (mile 35.6 I think).  My buddies John and Kevin hiked the 3 mile spur trail to bring in aid.  This was huge, really built some momentum here.  I ate some food, drank some caffeine, shared some war stories, dropped off Dave, and went over time windows for the rest of the day.  At this point I realized that the FKT was attainable if my body held up over the course of the next 30 miles.  After changing into dry clothes, shoes, and socks I took off on the next 11 mile section to meet John/Kevin at the Mayhew Lake spur trail intersection.

What a beautiful section, it started with some very runnable terrain around the lake shore, then headed up rose lake in to some old growth forests.  At this point I felt mentally and physically strong, the name of the game was keep pushing without getting lost.  I filled up at several streams and moved swiftly throughout this section.  I rolled into the 3rd aid station at the Mayhew Lake Spur Trail/BRT Intersection (45 miles I think).  This aid station was more of a nascar pitstop.  Quick refresh on water/snacks, picked up a headlamp, and I was off.  The next aid station would be the loon lake road crossing 10 miles ahead, where I would take more rest before the final push.

During this section of 9-10 miles I moved well, feeling the end in sight (kind off!).  About 5 miles in I had to turn on my headlamp and push through endless fields of overgrown alders and ferns that cover the trail.  Legs are pretty scratched up post run.  

I came into my final aid station at loon lake road with close to 3 hours and 45 minutes to achieve the overall fkt.  I ate some hot quesadillas (so good), put on some warm clothes and gloves, drank a red bull, then set off to finish the mission. 

The final 10 miles were by far the hardest to navigate....especially in the dark.  Every half mile to mile I questioned where I was and had to often run with my map out to ensure I was not lost.  What was even crazier was the massive rock slabs that were hundreds of yards in distance, these rock slabs did not make finding the trails in the dark on the other side very was so challenging.  Through it all we persevered and I finished the Border Route Trail on Friday night in a final time of 16 hours, 51 minutes, and 36 seconds.

I owe so much to the volunteers who maintain this rugged and remote trail.  Thanks to my crew, Mom/Uncle/Kevin/Dave/John.  And to my wife who supported me through all the training over the last year.  

To the Border Route Trail, you have a piece of my heart forever.  Thank you for being the toughest trail I've ever encountered, you allowed me to push beyond my perceived limits and for that I am forever grateful.