Podcast: Episode 201: Thru-Hiking Your Way to FKT Fitness with Cal Swartzentruber


What’s it like to set an FKT on the heels of a six month thru-hike? Cal Swartzentruber joins the FKT Podcast to dish it out.

Fresh off completing the Pacific Crest Trail—Cal’s first of thru-hike of the Triple Crown—Cal returned to his local trails of the South last October.

That thru-hiking fitness paid off. Completing the Sheltowee Trace in an unsupported style, Cal broke not only the unsupported record, but also the supported record (by 32 minutes!) on the 319-mile trail.  

Climbing between deep hemlock gorges and piney, craggy summits, the Sheltowee Trace is National Recreation Trail spanning the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. The name “Sheltowee” refers to Daniel Boone, who was captured by Shawnee Indians while making salt in an area close to the present-day trail. Chief Blackfish, his adopted Shawnee father, renamed him Sheltowee, which means “Big Turtle.”

Cal, who considers himself more of a hiker than a runner, is a testament to the fact that you can succeed at FKTs from all types of backgrounds. He wisely chose both a trail he’s familiar with, having thru-hiked it in 2019, and terrain he’s called him for his whole life.

Tune into Cal’s conversation with host Heather Anderson to learn how Cal channeled his fitness from the PCT into this seven-day FKT. Learn about the challenges of hiking on the east coast during the fall, how Cal contended with an unusual animal obstacle on the trail, and the evolving nature of the Sheltowee Trace and what that could mean for future FKT attempts. 

Keep up with Cal on Instagram, and read his full trip report on fastestknowntime.com

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