FKT: Lee Mobley - Brasstown Bald (GA) - 2024-05-31

Route variation
Soup to Nuts (all 3 trails out & back from the summit)
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 57m 47s
GPS track(s)

Set a goal a few months ago to set the FKT for Brasstown Bald - Soup to Nuts - Unsupported by May, and snuck it in at the last second!

I've been training on the three Brasstown Bald trails since I moved to the area, and all 3 in a row seemed like a great goal to capitalize on all of my training, as well as have a local trail to benchmark my progress as I improve over time. I'll continue training here and focus on times for individual trails as well in the future.

The first attempt was in April, and it did not go well. Lost the trail on Arkaquah near the cliffs, climbed in circles in thick rhododendron, poorly planned nutrition and hydration, and not prepared for the conditions. Got a lot of learning done that day, and continued to research and practice different strategies. Pacing also became a main focus after a tough bonk at the base of Arkaquah. I continued to train and learn to prepare for another attempt.

2 days before this attempt, I started loading up on carbs and rest, and prepared the plan for nutrition and hydration. The weather looked great and I was ready to go.

Got to the trailhead around 9:00 A.M. and set off without a warm up for reasons I can't fully explain. But the Arkaquah climb felt great. Consistent pace, no surprise aches or pains, and started fueling near the top. Went pretty simple, 1200 calories of gummy worms and 800 calories of Corn Nuts, with 8 sticks of Gatorade powder and 4 Pure Kick Energy 80 mg caffeine powders. Also a can of Grizzly Wintergreen pouches for a mood booster. Weird and unproductive trail running vice I know but it works for me, 2 pouches per descent kept my mind right and I feel like it helped with focus when combined with caffeine. I wish I'd kept better track of how I spaced out my nutrition, but generally I just tried to get around 250-300 calories an hour in, drink when I'm thirsty, alternate between water and gatorade. I filled up water at the public water fountain at the parking lot when I would pass on the way to the summit marker, as well as the small springs on Wagon Train and Arkaquah.

First visit to the top completed my Arkaquah ascent at the 1:48 mark, then down and up Jack's Knob Trail. Jack's Knob went easier than I expected as well, and I was basing my pacing mostly on HR. The goal almost the entire time was to be disciplined and controlled in my pace, keeping HR down as much as possible to sustain energy as long as possible. I think that Arkaquah bonk in April got me the right kind of fearful, I often reminded myself that just a good finish would be a success and I'd really rather end with some fuel left in the tank to be safe. Oddly that unattachment to the outcome is what I attribute the solid time to. After descending and ascending Jack's Knob Trail, I returned to the summit at the 3:33 mark.

Wagon Train was next, the trail I train on most commonly (it ends close to home), and it felt smooth enough. Could have taken advantage of the more runnable sections if I hadn't been so focused on prudence, and was also slowed down by the sections of large rocks and washouts. Was pleased with my performance on the way back up, felt good and consistent and energy stayed at a great level. Hit the summit the third time at about 7:22, with only the descent of Arkaquah left.

On the way down Arkaquah, my legs were getting a little beat from the descending, but my HR had dropped significantly since the last couple miles of Wagon Train and I was in cruise control. Listened to tunes and rode it out, finishing at the road with a time of 8:57:47.

I see a lot of places where I can improve and make up time, I intend to focus on the individual trails and attempt again when I gain more strength and endurance, and as an all out effort. Really proud of this one and hope to continue making progress.