FKT: Sheila Vibert - AT through Shenandoah National Park (VA) - 2020-06-20

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 2h 59m 55s
GPS track(s)

My goal starting out was an attempt a supported FKT on the AT going south to north which I was able to accomplish.  I started at Rockfish gap on 6/19 at 4:15 am and finished in 26:59 on Saturday 6/20 where the AT meets route 522.  (I wanted to do what John Anderson and Dan Fogg completed). I used a Suunto ambit vertical GPS watch for tracking and had the GPS setting on a less accurate setting (30 hr battery life) which is why Strava shows straight lines and 96 miles, but I did stay on the AT from start to finish.

The adventure began with temps on the mid 60's and never really got above 80 the entire time which was excellent for Virginia in June.  During those early miles, I ran through fields and had some nice climbs but in my mind I was really nervous thinking I'm going way too slow, this is going to be really hard etc.  The fog was dense and it was hard to find the white blazes at crossings at times adding to my anxiety.  My crew met me the first time about 15 miles in which gave me a good start and had just run out of water so ended up meeting up about every 5 to 10 miles for the rest of the course.  

I picked up a pacer about 9pm and she ran with me for the remainder of the route.  I was so grateful for the company.  The night was beautiful with clear skies and sparkling stars and firefly show!  I had a bear bell on me the entire time which made me feel better especially in the dark.  I hit a low about 1am thinking oh man, my legs are done running, its all walking from here on but we kept moving and eventually I perked back up and we really cruised the last 20 miles.  I flew by crew at Compton, eager to get to 522.  Little did I know what the last 3 miles entailed.  The worst boulder pile of the entire course and a huge climb (after 100 miles it seemed like Everest).  

I'm so grateful to have been able to complete this, what an epic run.


So awesome Sheila! I'm curious, did you notice that hitting the higher elevations (Big Meadows, for example) in the middle of the day helped alleviate the peak temperature of the day?