FKT: Finn Melanson - Hundred Mile Wilderness (ME) - 2023-08-04

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 5h 34m 38s

First, the positives -

I’m grateful for Jules Campanelli dealing with my chaotic training/racing brain and helping me realize this was the project that was gonna fire me up and sustain over the long run (no pun intended).

I continue to love the Appalachian Trail (especially the Maine AT). Besides the lore and the rugged beauty, it never fails to throw me into the figurative belly of the beast of physicality, psychological duress, etc and always gives me just enough that I can handle to come out the other side with enduring lessons learned and a more coherent life philosophy. It’s hard for me to plan the future, but I’d love for most summers to revolve around this place.

I’m proud of finishing. With these long trail unsupported efforts, you are in the business of staving off disaster. It’s weirdly thrilling, every single decision matters. I spent many hours yesterday actively coaching myself down technical descents, for example. Early in the run, as corny as it sounds, I also took a few minutes asking the trail for permission to pass through relatively safely and expressing my appreciation for everything it’s taught and given me over the last decade.

Second, what I have to work on -

I was frankly very far off my goal of a sub 24 hour finish, and this unsupported FKT is really only a technicality - I ran about 16 minutes faster in 2020 but had to change the designation to self supported because a passing thru hiker helped me reset a few dislocated fingers suffered from a fall early in that run.

5 miles into the run, I made my first major mistake - I mixed Maurten into both my bottles and clogged both filters. I figured I was screwed and spent the next 30 miles planning my exit from the trail and going for it again next week. Out of laziness because I figured extraction was harder (Im truly not a stubborn finish at all costs person), I kept going and drank unfiltered water the rest of way.

Coincidentally, more gear failures and logistical mishaps followed and I spent an inordinate amount of down time at various lean-tos along the way troubleshooting.

Legs felt bulletproof the whole way, in large part (I think) to doing 1x / week strength training for the two months leading up to this effort with Jimmy Picard (shout out Redefine Physio). My limiting factors in this attempt were not physical, thanks to him (and all the awesome training partners in SLC).

Third, the possible near future -

I plan to come back again next year in the same style with the same goal of running under 24 hours. Do I think a better athlete could do it no problem? Of course. But I think it’s a great goal for me personally. If I can convince Jules, I’d like to come out earlier (like 4-6 weeks in advance) to get as many miles in on the course as possible.

ps - some more people to thank who have invigorated my excitement in this route and been so generous in knowledge sharing: Xander KeiterJoffrey Peters, the list goes on.