There is a history of very fast runners between the Klamath Falls area and Ashland area. Many of the trails and Strava segments around here are quite difficult to obtain crowns on, and in this case, the Brown Mountain loop segment had a women's time on it that has stood since 2015 when Amber Singh ran the loop with Jeremy Morris. I was curious if I could take the crown, and hence, the FKT.
The first time I ran the loop, it was more of a scouting mission. But after the run, I knew I had some work to do before I could come anywhere near the FKT of 2 hours 57 minutes. I fell in love with the loop though. The trails alternate between smooth, buttery singletrack that winds through forests to technical and rocky.
The second time I ran it was with Jason Hardrath. We set out for a semi-casual run with the potential of going for the FKT. A friend joined us for the first few miles, and then I bonked hard around the halfway mark.
The third time was the charm. This time, I planned to go hard and just stay curious about what I was able to do. I wanted Jason there to push me. I didn't expect to get the FKT, but I also didn't rule out the possibility for us. Both of our nutrition/hydration plans were to use Gnarly Nutrition Ful2O as our sole source of fuel and hydration, which turned out to be key in our success because it is so easy to digest and there's no wrestling with packaging or chewing while you run. We set out at a moderate pace. I felt like I was going out too hard, but again, I was curious about my capability.
At our first major intersection we were seven minutes ahead of record pace. I easily jogged through the switchbacks that I bonked on the previous time, which made me ridiculously happy. Our plan at that point was to remain conservative on the uphills, and run hard on the downhills. Downhill, especially techy downhill, is somewhat of a superpower of mine. Our plan worked, and while I suffered greatly through the last four miles, we were able to maintain that seven minute lead for the rest of the run.
I'm incredibly grateful for Jason's presence throughout that effort. He constantly fed me praise and pushed me through the entire run. I've always been a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to running and training, preferring to do my own thing most of the time, but I can see how much of an advantage it is to have a partner.