FKT: David Smith - Bickle Knob Observation Tower (WV) - 2023-04-02

Route variation
up & back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
58m 38s
GPS track(s)

I was supposed to go run the Xenia OH Marathon on Sunday April 2nd, but the whitewater kayaking was too good in the WV mountains to leave. So after a Upper/Lower Blackwater river lap in the snow and some peperoni rolls from the Exxon in Thomas, WV I started to head home toward Huntington, WV. I had driven up to the fire tower last summer and knew about this FKT so I decided to stop and give it a go since the weather was nice for it (low 40s at the bottom and some snow on top) and I had my running shoes in the car. 

I warmed up for a few miles on the roads and trails around the base of the climb and I quickly learned that my new Vaporfly shoes did not work very good in the mud. I decided to wear them anyway to give them a first real test of speed (Plus I knew that Caleb Bowen used them in his 100 mile victory at the 2022 Canal Corridor race on mostly gravel).

I started my watch when I left the asphalt and went out pretty fast for not ever having tried to run the course.  I quickly decided that it felt longer and harder when I was running vs driving. It started to lightly rain that turned to a light snow near the top. I saw the parking lot at the top and knew I was a little bit behind Nathaniel Orders speedy climb, so I had to hurry. I did walk for a little bit though some snow and mud at the top and quickly climbed the 4 flights of stairs to the top of the tower. I did not stop to enjoy the view bc I saw that I was 36:00 to the top of the tower and had to make up almost a minute on the downhill. Thankfully I like running downhill and had an imaginary "rabbit to chase". I was only passed by 3 cars total this Sunday afternoon and didn't see any other hikers or runners out there so attempting in the winter probably helped. I PR'd on my mile (5:04), 2 mile (10:28) and 5K (16:23) times on the nice 8% down grade while trying to keep the rubber side down and make up some time as I knew it would be close (I couldn't remember the exact time I had to beat). I stopped my watch as soon as I left the gravel and limped back to my car to see that I beat Nathaniel's time by 7 seconds! Wow.

Thanks Nathaniel for a really impressive effort to chase and Katie for the motivation to run up the biggest hill I have ever tried to run up.