FKT: Joffrey Peters - "Legendary" Smarts - Cube Traverse (NH) - 2019-08-02

Route variation
out & back
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
6h 20m 4s
GPS track(s)

From Strava (some pics there):

Thanks Tom for a really hard day out! My legs feel like smoldering rubbish. ?

Started as soon as it was light enough to not use a headlamp. Scared away a deer and two bears on the first climb to Smarts. Heard a loon as I approached 25A. Bunches of blueberries in the clearings on the south ridge of both Smarts and Cube. Only stopped once for a small handful. Lots of thru-hikers out there too. From the unpicked abundance, they appeared not to know that blueberries are the original trail magic!

I started off too fast, and blasted up the ridge to Smarts, running plenty of terrain I shouldn't have. I tried to move efficiently down Smarts, and filled up on water at the base of the descent by the bridge. Pushed fairly hard up Cube, then kept trying to move quickly on the downhill. I realized at the summit that I was on pace to hit under 3 hours to the turnaround, which I was fairly sure was faster than the one-way FKT (it was).

I ran and jogged quite a bit of the ascent up Cube, though I could feel the glycogen depletion really starting to hit my legs. My fueling strategy (more details below) was poor. I set out intending to push hard enough to hit this point, but hoped/expected it to come on the second climb up Smarts, not with nearly half the route to go. I continued to push, but dropped to a brisk hike on much of the steeper uphill. Heading down Cube was slow, as I expected. The southern side of Cube is riddled with uneven rocks and boulders and short scrambles. When I made it to the stream at the base of Smarts having averaged around 14 min miles, I thought that was about as good as I could have hoped for.

I took my only sizeable break at the stream there before the final traverse of Smarts Mountain. I drank a half liter of water, filled my bottles, and tried to eat some Oreos. The rest actually let a small amount of glycogen reaccumulate in my leg muscles, so starting out again I felt OK. It only took jogging few flatter sections of that ascent to bring my legs back to the realm of wooden peg legs, though. At the top of the mountain, I transferred water to the one filter bottle with enough flow to be usable, and dumped a small amount on my head, then tried hard to actually run down Smarts. I had forgotten how steep and technical it feels on tired legs! I thought at the top that 6:15 was possible, but it was not. I stopped once for a few blueberries as a pick-me-up on the descent, and as I cleared the last rock outcropping on the ridge, I tried to really pick up the pace and run the steep dirt down to the parking lot, but my legs hurt pretty badly by then.

I had a nice cool morning, though I was starting to feel the warmth by about 5 hours in. The trails were mostly dry, and my feet stayed dry all day. I think that with better rest, better nutrition, and better planning/gear, and an even cooler day, I could possibly get down to around 6 hours and change. Getting under 6 hours would require a transcendent performance from me.

Gear: Carried two Katadyn BeFree filters in an Ultimate Direction race vest. One turned out to have virtually no flow, so that was not optimal. I didn't bring poles, as I have trouble eating and drinking when using them, but I think they would have largely been beneficial on this route. The Hoka Torrents are really great performers for this kind of terrain - grippy, great torsional stability, enough cushion, and flexible enough to accommodate some foot swelling.

Nutrition: Poor. I ate too much for breakfast and didn't really want to eat anything for the first hour and a half or so. My home-made energy gel didn't have the right kinds of sugars, so I wasn't getting the fast-absorbing boosts I needed. One of my favorite trail snacks: cheese crackers with peanut butter was too dry and hard to eat while breathing heavily, and was not a good choice for the day. I think real maltodextrin-based energy gel and a handful of shot blocks would probably have been the right thing to do, though it's kind of gross.