FKT: Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy - Long Trail (VT) - 2020-06-15

Gender category
Male
Route variation
Standard route
Multi-sport
No
Style
Self-supported
Start date
Finish date
Total time
4d 23h 54m
GPS track(s)
Report

PRETRIP: Long Trail FKT Announcement

On Wednesday, 6/10, I will attempt the unsupported FKT going South on Vermont’s 273 mile Long Trail. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance trail in the USA 🇺🇸 and a hotbed of incredible FKT accomplishments. This has been a huge goal of mine for quite some time, but I really want to dedicate this run to the black lives matter movement & the push for progress in racial equality in our country.

Why the Long Trail? It’s a true classic. Few people know I attempted the record in 2015 and ended up with a watermelon sized knee after 90 miles and called it quits. Before Katie and I relocate to Seattle, I’m so glad to take on this challenge. I’m also hoping this run and my platform will contribute towards positive change and equality in our country. The movement that’s happening in our streets right now shouldn’t stop when we get to the trailhead.

The outdoor and trail running community are generally white, FKT records have been pioneered by white faces, and Vermont is one the of least diverse states in the USA. I will be carrying 8 stones in my backpack in memory of 8 black lives taken by unjust police brutality (a very tiny fraction of lives lost) and to raise awareness for the #8cantwait campaign to end police violence. I know I’m lucky to have a home in the outdoor community - it should be welcome to all. I’m donating to @outdoorafro and encourage you to as well. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of some incredible athletes: David Horton, Cave Dog Ted Keizer, @jenpharrdavis @alyssagodesky @_joshuaperry current supported record holder Jonathan Basham (4d12h) and unsupported record holder @thefreeoutside (5d23). Feeling blessed & inspired to walk in the footsteps of some legends in the sport!

I will start with ~25lbs (18 of water/food) and try to cover the 273 miles between 4.5-6 days. I anticipate sleeping 2-4 hours per night & eating 9000cal per day. Let’s do this!

DAY ONE

Started my 273 mile Long Trail FKT at 6:30 am this morning, unsupported, southbound. 9 miles in at Jay Peak. I covered 54 miles in about 18 hours of movement.

DAY TWO

Day 2 has been a doozy. I’m getting creamed out here! Day one I did 54 in 18 hours and today I’ve done 24 miles in 10 hours. Blah.

The section today is much more technical and morning rainstorms made it all slippery. No path forward except for one foot in front of the other.

DAY THREE

Day 3 of the Vermont 273 mile Long Trail. Woke up at 11:30 pm to knock out Camels Hump. When else would I get to do that! Things are looking up, but it’s still slow going. 54 on day 1, 45 on day 2. I’ll probably hit 50 today. Oh and my feet look like sausages 😆

Despite originally going for an unsupported FKT, I bumped into two hikers and took water from them. After a long, dry ridge line section ending with Mt. Abraham, I crossed Lincoln Gap. I was already dehydrated, and two very nice thru hikers remarked at the very limited water resources coming up. Without thinking about how it would impact my record, I took about .6L of water from one of the hikers.

DAY FOUR

Day 4 Long Trail FKT. I was planning on doing the Long Trail, then all the happenings with COVID and social justice/police brutality made me question my decision. Is this the right thing to focus on? How can I contribute?

After spending a lot of time thinking this over with @kkmcconaughy and input from good friends, we decided, yes. The fight for equality should continue from the cities to the trailheads.

While there are a few action items and learning, there are two I want to share.
1. I’m carrying 8 stones on the entire Long Trail in honor of black men and women who have been murdered by police brutality and societal racism. These names are only a fraction of the lives lost to injustice and this is a 13.5oz weight I want to physically and emotionally bear on the Long Trail.
2. We are raising awareness and funds for @outdoorafro I encourage you to look into them as well, link in bio.
For more info on anything, link in bio.

Day 4 update: As of 6:40 pm, I have around 85 miles to go. Today has featured a few highs, and a lot of lows. Can I finish it off tomorrow? Depends if my headlamp makes it first!!

DAY FIVE

Long Trail FKT Day 5. A haggard smile but I still got fight. 60 miles left as of 7am. Running on fumes but SO STOKED TO BE HERE. Can I finish tonight using only my phone battery? Let’s go.

All I’m going to be practicing today on trail is gratitude. Particularly for my wife Katie

FINISH

New Long Trail Men’s FKT on the 273 mile Vermont Long Trail - 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes 🏃⛰⚡️

I am beyond words. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. Anyone who’s hiked or run the 273 mile Long Trail knows it is a unique beast. Its endless rocks, roots, exposed peaks and steep climbs make it unlike anything I’ve ever run/power hiked/frolicked thru (unless you count for my 2015 attempt where I blew up after 90 miles 😂)

In my final 48 hours, I faced sleep deprivation. I had to overcome constant self-doubt, a slowed pace, and a dead headlamp and phone, but the burn to finish in under 5 days was relentless. Going into the final night, I had one option: run as far as physically possible with 24% iPhone flashlight battery life, sleep, and then have 2 hours of sunlight to run like hell and finish before 6:29am. On my knees, in the end, my watch read 6:23am.

Upon arriving and taking almost 24 hours off the unsupported time, I was surprised by a cast of my favorite Boston people: My wife, who I CANNOT THANK ENOUGH, the Gunduz duo, the Katzmans, Jen Watt, and Eli Burakian (📸 cred). I finished with a water, kombucha, hot chai tea and a Heady Topper beer. Everything good in life. Turns out I also aged 15 years.

Thank your to the trail running community and to everyone who cheered me along. Thank you to supported and unsupported record holders Jonathan Basham and @thefreeoutside for pushing the limits to make the Long Trail one of the classic FKT routes in the US. Thank you to everyone who supported our mission of racial justice and who donated funds to @outdoorafro (over $5,000 and still accepting donations in bio!). Thank you to sponsors @columbia1938 @corosglobal @mountainlaureldesigns @palantepacks @trailbutter for your support.

Now, I sit by the fire with Katie and drink more tea.