FKT: Matthew VosBurgh - Empire State Trail (NY) - 2024-05-18

Route variation
Standard Route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
9d 11h 14m 44s

We drove up on Wednesday, May 8. They were four of us, myself and Molly (my crew chief), as well as another couple Kelly and David. Kelly was dubbed our chief enthusiast and David we dubbed “wheels” as he was cycling the trail rather than running. David had been wanting to cycle the Empire State Trail for several years and I wanted to run trail since I finished the Icelandic Ring Road FKT in 2022. We set out at 6:37AM on the morning of May 9 from Buffalo, heading to Battery Park in New York City. The initial goal was to run 70 miles a day for eight days. I managed to keep up this pace for the first two days.  Things were great and while I was tired, I had the confidence in the first two days that I was able to do this with the right crew and support. In the middle of the third day, I started getting an achilles issue. Which started to impact my stride. Towards the end of the day, I really wasn’t feeling great and I knew that I had adjust my goal for the day from 70 to 60. By the time I reached mile 52 I was in a pretty decent amount of pain and needed to stop at 55.

The following day was the hardest day that I experienced on the trail, covering only 50 miles through mostly walking and in a pretty significant amount of achilles pain. We did all the things we possibly could to make sure that I could keep going without hurting it or me anymore. I reached out to friends and other people who have done multi days and we were all in agreement that I just needed to get past this really difficult and hard time where my body is revolting to the mileage that I was putting it through. Sure enough, this worked. The subsequent day was technically the lowest number of miles with only 48.2 covered, but I covered that distance in almost an hour less time and feeling a lot stronger than the previous day. I figured I would call it while I was feeling good and wait for the sun to rise for day six.

Day six came around and similarly I felt stronger. I knew that I had turned it around from that super low point on day four. From then on, I was getting my legs back, but I was still limited by the decreased mobility and range of motion in my achilles. The pain had spread to the extensor on the same foot, which meant my plantar and dorsi flexion were difficult to manage. By the time I got today seven I knew that there was no way that I was going to be able to make it my original goal even with a massive last day push of say 100 miles. It was simply too much, so the goal was adjusted to add at least one extra day, but thinking that we probably needed an extra two. Day eight was the first day where my ability to continue was limited by something other than my own body, and that was a gate that was locked on a bridge that I needed to cross to get to Poughkeepsie.

While each day had its challenges, the trail was quite beautiful, especially after Albany. I must admit the Erie Canalway trail was slightly boring over time! Though it did have its moments. I’m incredibly proud of effort we made and working through the problems we encountered. There are definitely things I would do differently if I were to do it all over again. The cyclist David and I were intending on finishing together on the eighth day, but my slowing down proved too great a pace disparity, and he continued on and finished in the originally scheduled eight days. He met me at the finish so that we could be at the finish line as a team. And it is a trail, and a 10 day period I'll never forget. 

For support, we rented a Winnebago Solis 59P from City-Escapes. We weighed myself every morning and night and I didn't lose a pound from beginning to end because she ensured I had 8-8.5k calories a day of real food. Lots of Cola-Cola. Lots of egg burritos, grilled cheeses, Skratch, Nuun, and smoothies packed with more calories than you thought possible. Every morning started with an 800 calorie bowl of overnight oats. And every day I had about 200 grams of protein to ensure I had enough for muscle rebuilding along the way. Our nutritional game was strong! I'd have never been able to do this with out the support and I'm eternally grateful to them for their contribution to my success, especially Molly.