Karel Sabbé's Appalachian Trail FKT Attempt
We know Belgian dentist Karel Sabbé best from his setting of the FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016, besting Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy's 2014 FKT on the PCT by nearly a day: in 52 days, 8 hours and 25 minutes.
Note, signficantly, that Joe holds the FKT on the AT as a self-supported backpacker, while Karel has a support crew for his FKT attempt. If Karel finishes faster he'll hold the supported FKT while Joe will still hold the self-supported record. Read more here about about style/support.
Views from the trail
Some discussion of Karel's FKT attempt is happening on the WhiteBlaze forum, which is dedicated to anything to do with the AT.
“I ran with him from northern Shenandoah National Park to High Knob. Overall he was running well, power hiking at a good pace, and eating and drinking with minimal stops. His early morning approach (4am starts to accrue miles) is really smart since you get the mental lift of first light and finishing before dark. He's also snagging 8+ hrs of sleep. Overall he's looking extremely good with no foot or leg issues. When he meets up with the crew, he does a quick gear triage and then off he goes. Our pit stop was 5 minutes max, and part of that was gearing up one of his crew members to pace along. He had second breakfast (a couple of McDonald's breakfast sandwiches) and was eating while hiking the uphills. He saves the sitting and relaxing for the evenings it seems. His intent is to keep with 50+ mi days, but said he had planned for some easier days as the terrain changes. He was also happy about his lead time which allowed him to take a break should weather/terrain/injury come about but he hasn't had a need to take one yet. His early morning starts allows him to rack up around 15mi near sunrise, which he takes at more of a "warm up" pace before speeding up.“
-- WhiteBlaze user “Scythe”
“Karel and his crew are making this look easy so far.”
-- WhiteBlaze user “black chucks”
"Not much of a nail-biter. If it's quiet, some fans may already be exiting the stadium to beat the traffic."
-- Matt Kirk (on WhiteBlaze)
"Fer being Belgian Karel is running like a Swiss watch."
-- Bill Townsend (on WhiteBlaze)
"State 14/14. Let's finish this."
-- Karel Sabbe entering Maine (on Instagram)
Karel's tracking is below. The AT is shown as a red line, with Karel's latest reported position shown as "1" in the green square. Note that distances along the AT are given in kilometers. Karel's tracker reports at 1 min. intervals, but relies on cell signal to transmit location, so may not be current if coverage is lacking (the tracker stores the data points and downloads them when cell signal is restored). Clicking on "show participant course" (left) shows all available track points.
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We're tracking how Karel's attempt compares to current FKT-holder Joe "Stringbean" McConaughy's performance. Stringbean set the FKT of 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes on the Appalachian Trail in 2017.
He did it ! Karel Sabbe has set the AT FKT !
After sleeping in a lean-to 95 miles from the finish on the night of August 26, Karel ran all day on the 27th and through the night to complete his AT FKT about 12:11pm on the 28th, in about 41d7h39m, more than 4 days faster than Joe McConaughy's previous FKT! Joe retains the "self supported" FKT.
Commentary on Maine, Day 37-39: Karel's tracker relies on cell coverage to report his location, and this is lacking along much of the AT in Maine. Also, there are relatively few road crossings, so he has been sleeping along the trail. This makes it hard to know his exact overnight location, and exact daily miles. We are relying on various reports from the field. On Day 39, he tackled the Bigelow Range Traverse, and ended with the Kennebec River crossing, passing the 2000 mile mark!
Commentary on Day 36: Karel has pulled of a remarkable 2-days in the White Mtns. After yesterday's huge day, today he completed BOTH the Presidential Traverse and the Carter-Moriah Traverse. While "only" 41 miles today, the terrain is some of the most difficult on the AT, and the weather was just terrible - cold, rain and WIND. We're not aware of ANYONE on an AT thru doing these 2 big White Mtns traverses in one day. Karel called the difficulty of the day 10 out of 10. He now has less than 300 miles left to complete the AT!
Commentary on Day 35: Karel put in a monster 51 mile day in the heart of the White Mtns today, some of the toughest terrain on the AT. In the evening, he boldly launched into the first several miles of the Presidential Traverse, which includes Mt Washington and is the highest section of the AT in New England. He hiked well into the evening, which isn’t usual for him, probably to get a jump on this section, as tomorrow’s forecast goes from bad in the morning (50sF, rain, 40-55mph winds on the peaks) to worse in the afternoon (40sF, rain, 45-75mph wind). We believe he’s staying in Mizpah Hut tonight, but the tracker lost signal before the hut. If so, he has less than 12 miles before he’s off the highest summits, so this may be a good plan for him. The following section after Pinkham Notch is also high (though not quite as high), but he could easily afford to take a short day tomorrow and wait until better weather on Thursday before tackling the last harder section of the Whites. At this point he’s more than 3 full days ahead of Stringbean!
These distances are based on the Appalachian Trail Data Book for 2018, a publication of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. They are NOT consistent with the distances on Karel's tracking map above (which are given in km, and are generally about 3% short).
|Day||Karel total miles||Karel daily miles||Joe total miles||Joe daily miles||Karel ahead||Karel’s ending location||Karel date|
|3||157.9||52.5||137.3||51.0||20.6||Yellow Creek Gap||07/20/18|
|4||210.4||52.5||183.2||45.9||27.2||Icewater Spr Shelter||07/21/18|
|6||310.8||50.7||273.3||43.4||37.5||Devil Fork Gap / NC212||07/23/18|
|7||364.0||53.2||325.3||52.0||38.7||NC226 / Iron Mtn Gap||07/24/18|
|8||419.5||55.5||376.8||51.5||42.7||Dennis Cove Rd/USFS Rd 50||07/25/18|
|10||524.7||53.6||478.3||50.0||46.4||Slab Town Road||07/27/18|
|11||584.3||59.6||532.2||53.9||52.1||VA615 Suiter Rd||07/28/18|
|13||687.5||51.6||635.9||57.3||51.6||VA621 Craig Creek Valley||07/30/18|
|14||742.3||54.8||686.4||50.5||55.9||BRP Mile 97.7 (first intersect)||07/31/18|
|15||796.4||54.1||727.5||41.1||68.9||BRP Mile 51.7 (nr Punchbowl)||08/01/18|
|16||847.7||51.3||772.9||45.4||74.8||BRP, Dripping Rock (6mi past Maupin Field)||08/02/18|
|17||903.4||55.7||820.1||47.2||83.3||Smith Roach Gap Mile 68.6||08/03/18|
|18||955.9||52.5||869.0||48.9||86.9||Skyline Dr, 1mi before Gravel Spr turn-off||08/04/18|
|20||1,058.3||53.9||975.4||51.9||82.9||2mi before Raven Rock Shelter||08/06/18|
|21||1,113.4||55.1||1,019.0||43.6||94.4||PA-94 Mount Holly Springs||08/07/18|
|23||1,218.0||52.5||1,131.3||53.8||86.7||Port Clinton, PA||08/09/18|
|24||1,271.1||53.1||1,171.0||39.7||100.1||Forest Rd 3mi before Leroy Smith Shelter||08/10/18|
|25||1,322.6||51.5||1,222.9||51.9||99.7||US206, Culvers Gap, NJ||08/11/18|
|26||1,376.1||53.5||1,272.9||50.0||103.2||Dutch Hollow Rd, NY||08/12/18|
|27||1,429.6||53.5||1,325.0||52.1||104.6||RPH Shelter, NY||08/13/18|
|28||1,483.8||54.2||1,375.2||50.2||108.6||West Cornwall Rd, CT||08/14/18|
|29||1,538.7||54.9||1,427.1||51.9||111.6||Jerusalem Rd, MA||08/15/18|
|30||1,593.3||54.6||1,480.4||53.3||112.9||MA-2, North Adams||08/16/18|
|31||1,646.0||52.7||1,540.6||60.2||105.4||William B Douglas Shelter, VT||08/17/18|
|32||1,701.9||55.9||1,589.2||48.6||112.7||US-4, Killington, VT||08/18/18|
|33||1,754.6||52.7||1,640.0||50.8||114.6||Hanover Ctr Rd, Etna, NH||08/19/18|
|34||1,801.0||46.4||1,690.2||50.2||110.8||NH-112, Lincoln, NH||08/20/18|
|35||1,851.9||50.9||1,745.5||55.3||106.4||Mizpah Spring Hut, NH||08/21/18|
|36||1,892.6||40.7||1,790.4||44.9||102.2||US-2, Gorham, NH||08/22/18|
|37||1,943.0||50.4||1,818.3||27.9||124.7||Surplus Pond, ME||08/23/18|
|38||1,987.2||44.2||1,843.8||25.5||143.4||Railroad Rd, ME||08/24/18|
|39||2,039.7||52.5||1,875.6||31.8||164.1||US-201, Caratunk, ME||08/25/18|
|40||2,091.5||51.8||1,915.6||40.0||175.9||Long Pond Stream Lean-to, ME||08/26/18|
|41||2,174.0||1,956.2||40.6||Golden Rd at 7:30am on 8/28||08/27/18|
|42||2,189.1||1,993.6||37.4||Katahdin about 12:11pm on 8/28||08/28/18|