FKT: Justin Martino-Harms - North South Trail (RI) - 2021-05-23

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
19h 11m 34s

Start on the Northern end of the NS trail, in order to finish at the ocean.  The trail starts on the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, in the Douglas State Forest.  This means a two mile hike/run in order to get to the trailhead.  I got up at 3AM, was on the road by 3:45, then hiked to the start point by 4:25AM, and started on the NS trail just before 5AM.  

Trail conditions were ideal - almost no water on the trail (I did the first 50 mi of the trail a month earlier, and it was a combo of snow and flooded trail - no fun).  The first section through Buck Hill management area was boulders and roots - classic New England trail running.  Fortunately dawn came thirty or so minutes after I started, so it was easy enough to navigate.  It was 60 degrees or so, the coolest temperature of the day.  My plan was to get as many miles in before the heat really started, but also not destroy my legs.  I was able to do this, and arrived at the George Washington Campground to refill my water from the water tap and eat a sandwich I had packed.  This was a good move, because one the temperature really started climbing, my appetite was compromised.  

Things get a little fuzzy at this point, but I'd guess that around 11AM the temperature was a heat index of 80-85 degrees in the sun, and I was running on mostly backcountry roads and state land management gravel/stone roads by this point.  It was a very tough time getting to my one and only supply drop around mile 41 (just off the Wickaboxet management area trailhead, off Hazard road in West Greenwich).  At this point I believe I was experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate heat exhaustion, and decided to let my body cool down.  I spent about 45 minutes resting, napping, and trying to eat.  I had left quite a few food options and shake/smoothie options, but none of it was easy to eat or drink.  The nap seemed to help the most, and I was able to then get back on the trail and continue.  At this point I hiked/walked, with running interspersed, with the goal of keeping my body temperature down, and prioritizing eating and drinking.  

As the sun went down, I gradually was able to eat and drink with more regularity, only to be welcomed to the Arcadia section, which was poorly marked, and very poorly maintained.  Several sections of boulders were overgrown with poison ivy, and it was a feat to get past without exposure.  I filtered water in Arcadia, and am glad I did, because water was rare after this (although I wasn’t looking for it, and it may have been available on the trails approaching Burlingame, and I just didn’t notice).  

Burlingame was not difficult, only a bit more elevation gain and loss compared to the rest of the trail.  After this point, I was close enough to the ocean, and the weather was cool enough that it was easier to keep running, but the elevation, rocks, roots, and exhaustion kept my pace fairly slow.  

After I was off the trails and had only two miles of road running before the ocean, I was able to pick up the pace to roughly 11 or 12 minute miles.  My partner was waiting (with a digital bell/cowbell to signal my arrival!), and then as I ran onto the beach my friends Holly and Laura jumped out and yelled as I ran into the Atlantic (carefully, as the waves were crashing pretty hard!).  

As a nonbinary person, it is incredibly affirming to submit my FKT under my actual gender - my deepest gratitude to all at  I feel seen and supported in a way that is rare in sport, and I appreciate the FKT folks leading the way with inclusion and affirmation of our wonderful and diverse running community.