FKT: Gregory Ryan - Lake Apopka Circumnavigation (FL) - 2022-04-03

Route variation
Standard loop
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
6h 33m 5s
GPS track(s)

I’ve had this day ear marked for my second attempt at this loop/FKT for a while. I just happened to check a week ago to see what the FKT was and Rob Ulm had lowered it just a few weeks ago. To give myself every chance to hit this on what was predicted to be a lot warmer day (and learning from my bailed attempt last year) I attempted to get to the trailhead at 4am. Starting a bit behind schedule a little after 4:20am. I took a picture at the Killarney Station sign as that would also serve as the de facto end point of the loop and started my watch. Having ran this before I knew the road mile that lay before me and not to accidentally take the West Orange Trail leaving Killarney. Traffic was mild but I had my headlamp for visibility and was able to duck to the side when needed. 
Green mountain trailhead was still closed. I didn’t know but nothing a quick duck couldn’t solve. Luckily the bathroom was open as I’d need it. A quick water fill and it was out onto the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. This section with only a headlamp definitely hits different but I didn’t need to be on the north side of the loop in todays expected mid morning heat (mid 80s). Crossing the canal leaves you with a choice of straight or taking a right for a bit of off road trail. Took the trail and the change of terrain was appreciated for the short time. Coming back onto the trail there was another ultra runner getting his long run in. He was running at a slightly quicker pace so he kept going but his bicycle crew mentioned he was training for a hundred as well in Ohio. 
Passing the bail point of my last attempt into new territory was exciting. Not long after ultrarunner stopped for his turn around and gave some encouragement. His crew asked about if I needed fluids. I politely declined. No trail magic here, and I knew from the OKT race report there was water soon. But as I was approaching the exit I found a gate locked for construction. There was no visible construction from the gate to the path that runs next to the road. With no easy way through or under it was time to get the feet wet to continue our journey. A quick jaunt into the calf deep water we were back on the path. I was desperate for some water as my tailwind was starting to upset my stomach without the water to balance it out. Another locked gate stopped me from continuing into the park, but there was no gate from the road I would now have to move to and I chanced getting water from the fountain. Success. Back track to the road as the way out had multiple locked gates. Looks like we’re road running our way back to sidewalks and eventually the familiar West Orange Trail. 
The weather remained overcast for the remainder of the run. Filled water up again at Chapin Station and another trailside water fountain. Winter Garden was having a street festival which was a nice change of pace and it was nice to see people enjoying the surprise break in the weather. Plus dogs. Who doesn’t love a dog. I’d built up about a 20 minute buffer that I’d expected to be losing rapidly with rising temps but with cloud cover I just had to hold pace mostly for the remainder of the run. A couple of annoying crosswalks while the local church parking lot was emptying out but with motivation rising I pushed to the finish, slapped the sign and stopped my watch. 6:33:05