Verify your FKT!
You put in a huge effort - you want people to believe you did it, right?
FKT activities are now quite popular, professional runners receive sponsorship, and the media is paying attention. So please reduce potential hassles for yourself and document what you do.
Submit a .gpx file. These are easily downloaded from your Strava, SPOT, DeLorme or any other GPS-based tracker.
For 'National Class' routes - the AT, JMT, R2R2R, or anything where there may be publicity - please announce your intention in advance, and provide the link to real-time tracking. The DeLorme and SPOT Personal Locater Beacons are ideal for this purpose. For these high-profile FKT's, photo's and a Trip Report immediately following the effort are the standard procedure.
Do not later claim that you didn't know you had to verify your effort. And, just like with all your other key gear, you need to know how to use your tracking device and keep it charged.
Personal Locator Beacons
Besides providing real-time tracking to your friends and admirers, Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are also excellent safety gear; FKT or not, backcountry users should consider carrying them. The SPOT can send pre-written messages plus an SOS, while the DeLorme can send custom text messages explaining your situation ("Weather is bad, I'm exiting at XX trailhead, please pick me up in XX hours").
GPS watches are nearly ubiquitous. They cannot report your position in real time (as the PLBs do), so they provide a lesser standard of verification. They do, however generate a GPS track of your activity.
When submitting an FKT, we ask that you ideally provide:
- The original data file, usually in TCX, FIT, GPX, or KML format — copied directly from your watch,
- A link to your activity on Garmin Connect, Movescount, Strava, etc., and
- The data in .gpx format, if possible, (typically available for download from your activity-tracking site).
The original datafile contains more (and obviously raw) data, while the activity-tracking sites often offer alternative formats for download, though usually altering the data in the process.
Phones are now part of standard gear list, as they can do almost anything, from photo's to recording routes. There are now live-tracking apps, such as Strava Beacon, which require a cell-phone signal to be real-time. Since phones are also ideal for navigation (Gaia, etc), it is likely they will be used more for verification.
Note that canyons and forests can obscure the signal from the orbiting GPS satellites. Find a clear area on occasion to get a signal.
Photos can be an important part of your verification package. Digital photos have time stamps and may also have location data encoded in them (if you don't use a phone be sure your camera's clock is set correctly). Many people post their photos to Facebook or Instagram, but these sites strip out the "metadata" (time & location), rendering the photos basically useless for verification, so also save the original photo files and upload them directly.
The most time-honored means of verification is a detailed trip report written ASAP after the completion of your trip (based on detailed notes taken during the trip, such as daily miles, where you were when, weather observations, people you met, etc.) Not only is the TR important for verification, it helps everyone connect with your experience of the trip. Isn't that what it's really all about anyway?
We are unable to verify the accuracy of every record quoted here. If you think something is incorrect or misrepresented, please contact us and let's discuss it.