FKT Guidelines

David Anderson in the Winds

What qualifies as a Route?

Not everything is an FKT Route.  The route must be notable and distinct enough so that others will be interested in repeating it. Routes:

  • Must be at least 5 miles long or with at least 500 feet of climbing.
  • Can be on any surface - road, trail, or off-trail.
  • Primarily entail running and hiking. One may use any means of self-propelled travel during a FKT attempt, provided that:
    • At least 50% of time must be running and/or hiking, vs. other sports. (And once a route is established as a run or hike, cycling cannot be employed for any distance).
    • Ropes may not be employed for more than 10% of the Elapsed Time, and climbing grades 5.8/5a and harder even without a rope are considered climbing, not running or hiking.
    • Climbing, cycling, paddling, skiing, and other sports are great, and we may establish separate categories for them in the future, but not at this time.
    • Motorized travel for the sole purpose of linking important features may be allowed, for example during the Colorado or California 14ers.
    • Like any running race, participants must be self-propelled except for sections specifically designated in the route description.
  • We generally don’t track FKTs for race routes, since the race websites do that, but an FKT set in a race is still an FKT (Supported).
  • There are routes that cross entire States or Country; they are limited to one per State and Country.
  • Routes with a website, an existing name, history, particular beauty, follow a topographic feature, and with existing popularity will usually be accepted.  Routes that simply link 2 notable features or sites usually won't, because there are too many (i.e., infinite) possibilities.
  • Further information is on this "How To Submit A New Route" article.

It's great that people are out doing fun local routes. However, Fastest Known Times is a "bucket-list" of the best routes in the world!

When Submitting a new Route:

  • Provide all information. A .gpx track is required. Describe in words the exact start and end point.  Is it trails, roads, or off trail?
  • You must describe why the Route is notable.  Why would someone else want to do it?  A Route described in one sentence will be rejected. 
     

What qualifies as an FKT?

Calculating time

The clock starts at the beginning of the route, and does not stop until the end. FKTs always count “elapsed time,” never “moving time”.

Who

Anyone can do an FKT.  You must give your actual name to be credited with an FKT; no pseudonyms or trail names. 

Timing and Verifying

Verification is required; please see the FKT Verification page.

Fastest Times only

Only the fastest time is listed, posted chronologically as they were completed (not submitted), in each Gender category and Style.  There is no “leaderboard”.  If you completed a route but came up short of a new FKT, post a comment on the route page letting everyone know what you did. 

Categories

We maintain separate categories for Female, Male, Non-Binary and Mixed Gender Teams.  There are no Age Groups. Same-gender teams are considered in the same category as individuals of that gender (see below for more about teams). In addition, there are three Styles of support and thus three separate FKTs within each category (see “Styles” section below).

Styles

There are three types of support. Each route may have separate categories for these three Styles, and FKT submissions must state which style was employed.  While these three styles are different from each other, none is “better” than the others; do what works best for the route and you.  (Please do not feel the need to be "Unsupported"; often "Self-Supported" is the most appropriate style). A key distinction is that being paced or accompanied is considered a Supported trip, unless it is a team that stays together to the finish.

Unsupported

Unsupported means you truly have no external support of any kind. This means you carry everything you need from start to finish except water from natural sources (public taps along the trail are fine, but no water from any commercial source even if free). This naturally limits the length of an Unsupported trip.  Spectating in person by friends, family, or photographers is supportive, and thus not in the spirit of this style, and will be classified as Supported starting February 4, 2021 (all FKT classifications previous to this date will remain unchanged). Phone and digital communication is not considered support, and spectators and support people at the start and finish is also allowed.  Using public bathrooms to defecate is fine, as the less feces in the backcountry the better.

Self-Supported

Self-Supported means you may have as much support as you can manage or find along the way, but not from any thing or person just for you; any support you employ must be equally available to anyone else. This can range from caching supplies in advance, purchasing supplies along the way, staying at motels, to finding or begging for food or water; camping in a friends yard would be Supported, because that is not available to the public.  Most long thru-hiking routes are done Self-Supported.  To get a Self-Supported FKT you also have to beat the fastest Unsupported time.  Spectating will be considered as Support starting February 4, 2021 (no previous FKT classifications will be changed).

Supported 

Supported trips can have as much support means you can enlist, as long as you are entirely self-powered. This can range from one person handing you water once, to an entire team that accompanies you the whole distance giving you everything (except physical assistance). Whether it’s just once or continuously, any support at all means it’s a Supported trip.  On longer routes, Supported can enable the fastest trips due to the ability to carry less weight.  To get a Supported FKT you also have to beat the fastest Self-Supported and Unsupported times.

Groups / Teams

Groups of people can employ any of the three styles as long as they all travel and finish together; a team may share gear and still be Unsupported.  However, if one member drops out that means they paced the other members, so the finishers will automatically be Supported. 

Anyone who is accompanied by another person for any distance (except members of a group or team who finish together) cannot claim an Unsupported or Self-supported FKT.  That includes a person who started with you but dropped out part way, but it does not include random strangers you may meet along the way.  Running with a dog is not considered support.

Motorized / Equipment

All FKTs are self-propelled, except certain routes are specified to allow a motorized vehicle (ground or water only) to link to significant features or to cross water.  Use of motorized transport can never be considered Unsupported; if one drives oneself or takes public transport the effort can be Self-supported; if someone you know drives you it will be Supported.  

To be Unsupported, all equipment and gear must be carried from start to finish (trash may be properly disposed along the way).  One may drop gear (such as a large pack while going up and back on a summit) if one returns to it and brings it back to the finish on the same trip.  Using a bike or kayak can be Unsupported if the above condition is met, such as on an out-back route like the Longs Peak Duathlon where a bike is ridden from the start, left temporarily, and ridden back to the finish. If a bike or any other gear is cached in advance or left along the way, the effort is not Unsupported.

Route Variations

Direction

Loops and Point-Point routes can be run in either direction; thus there usually is no Variation established and the Route will not specify which direction.  A few major routes do have separate Variations for the direction traveled (N-S or S-N on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, for example).  Furthermore, Loops can be started/finished at any one point.

Ascent / Round Trip; Segments

All Ascent and Point-Point Routes may also have a Variation for Up-Down and Out-Back, and vice-versa.  To request a Variation be added, use the new route form; you need only put the existing route in the "Route Name" box, and the variation you want in the "Description"; these will always be added.

On a single effort you may set both an FKT for the Point-Point (or Ascent) and the Out-Back (or Up-Down) variations; however please submit two Add an FKT forms.

One mountain may have numerous trails to the top; rather than list them as separate Routes, these are usually listed as Variations on one Route.

Some of the very long trails have numerous Segments; rather than listing each Segment as a separate Route, they are listed as Variations on the main Route.

Laps

There can be a Variation for multiple laps on one route, such as multiple Grand Canyon Crossings.  The number of laps should be logical, such as 10 or 20 laps, or number completed within 24 hours.  We always allow 2 laps as a Variation; submit the new route form to request that; more than 2 laps will be for special circumstances only.

Season

Routes can be run in any season, and weather varies from year to year, so usually there is no Variation for season.  A few major routes with a tradition of seasonality may have a separate Variation for winter (between the winter solstice and spring equinox).

For most questions re variations, the answer will usually be: "Run in whichever direction/season is faster".
 

Premier Routes (Updated for 2022)

These are ten high-visibility Routes that attract national attention and top athletes, including professionals. These are the routes with the most FKTOY Nominations. You are required to be extra diligent in announcing, verifying, and listing these FKTs so the integrity of your effort will be protected and trusted. For every attempt on a Premier Route, please:

  1. Read the FKT Verification and FKT Guideline pages.
  2. Announce your attempt in advance - to receive attention afterward, you should also bring attention to your project before and during as well.
  3. Track your attempt without fail (knowing how to use devices to verify an FKT is part of your essential skill set) - Live Tracking is required - provide us the link and we will post it. (Females traveling alone may request to be exempted from public live tracking).

These are the current Premier Routes:

Removed:

  • Pacific Crest Trail, CA, OR, WA - Wildfires are closing sections of this great trail every summer, making year-year comparisons overly problematic.
  • Trans-Zion, UT - A rockfall closed a major section (the East Rim Trail), with the NPS stating, "We would guess that the area will continue to be closed for many years".  Zion Crossing is the same minus the East Rim Trail, but is not a Premier Route.

Have fun!  And if you come up short, no worries - that is part of the sport - post your result in the Comments section of the Route so everyone can learn.