FKT: Jeff Woody - Benton MacKaye Trail (GA, TN) - 2021-04-23

Route variation
BMT through GSMNP
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 2h 5m 52s
GPS track(s)

Sometimes the best adventures are the ones that don't go as planned. It certainly was the case on this adventure of the 93 miles of the Benton MacKaye Trail within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The first mishap at Mile 10 was an accidental discharge of pepper spray, causing many painful hot spots that stayed with me the whole run. Next up at Mile 20 was a broken hose on my hydration bladder (wow that doesn't sound right). Patched it up for a few miles until it finally gave out for good. Instead of having 2 liters of water, I now had only a 20 oz bottle for the next 30 miles that I frequently filled from the creeks (untreated of course )...until there wasn’t any creeks. Brian Thomas joined in at Mile 60 (at Tunnel to Nowhere), supplying new gear, hot food, and a running partner for the last 34 miles. This was key, as I turned into a Zombie around midnight. That led to a minor hallucination with a supposed bus on the trail, sleep walking/running, and many many falls. Each time I just laid on the trail wanting to sleep. Thanks to Brian and a couple of caffeine pills, I kept getting up and we kept rolling. Finally, the sun came up on Friday, bringing a much needed energy boost. We turned it up on for the last 7 miles, slowed only by the many remaining hills and one last gear fail...a broken hiking pole. Despite the many time stealing setbacks and nearly 21,000 of vertical gain, we reached the park boundary just north of Fontana Dam a bit after 9:00 AM on Friday for a time of 26:05:52.