Fresh off her course record at Bandera, Courtney Dauwalter returns to shed insight into yet another of her outstanding performances of late: setting the overall FKT on the Collegiate Peak Loop which got her #3 FKT of the Year in 2022.
Many have tried to throw down on this 160-mile link up of the Colorado Trail’s east and west alts through the Sawatch mountains. And many have failed. Armed with the power of familiarity—she can essentially access the Collegiate Peak loop from her front door in Leadville—a stellar crew and a spirit of curiosity, Dauwalter blazed around the loop in one day, 16 hours, and 14 minutes, shaving over 31 hours off of Annie Hughe’s female supported FKT and over six hours off of Nick Pedatella’s overall supported FKT.
“Our mindset going into it was very excited to try it and to give it our best. But also we knew that no matter how it shook out or what it would take to come back from any problems, we were going to finish it,” Dauwalter says. “I wasn't just thinking of the FKT or the time. I was enjoying being out there, enjoying moving with my feet and just seeing what happened.”
On this episode of the FKT Podcast, Dauwalter explains the appeal of this mountainous, remote FKT—her first official record in the books. She gets into her problem-solving strategies for when things got tough, both mentally and physically. (Hint: they involve mantras and lots of snacks.) And Dauwalter shares what it means to her to join the ranks of FKT holders.
The queen of not only speed and endurance but also consistency, Dauwalter dishes out tips on recovering from big efforts like a 160-mile run at high altitude.
“Oftentimes after a hundred mile race or some big project, my legs will feel pretty good fairly quickly. But I'll notice a general mental fatigue,” Dauwalter explains. “My brain is tired because there's so much brain effort put into these physical feats. So I'll pay attention to that. I’ll really assess every day how I'm feeling, like where am I at mentally with coming back to feeling normal and excited again. And I use that to gauge when I might be ready to go after another big thing.”
While Dauwalter’s accomplishments speak for themselves, she attributes her success to those around her. Members of the Leadville community, the ultrarunning community at large, her husband Kevin, and both record holders Hughes and Pedatella supported Dauwalter on this effort. She explains why this collaborative spirit is required to excel at these types of outings—and why camaraderie makes them so meaningful.
“It’s less about the record,” Dauwalter says. “And more about people just being psyched to elevate each other and do cool routes.”