As of September 1, 2016, ultrarunner Karl Meltzer has completed 30 days of his gruelling north-to-south speed record attempt of North America's Appalachian Trail. He's currently on pace to set a new record of 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes or faster.
So far, Meltzer has navigated 1,859 of the trail’s 3,524.5 kilometres while burning approximately 174,791 calories, taking 2,282,393 steps and averaging a speed of around 5kph. A few close friends and family members support Meltzer on his trail, and you can watch the adventure unfold here.
The American ultrarunner started at Mount Katahdin, in Maine, on August 3, and averaged more than 64km per day during the first week of his run. He maintained his daily distance average during week two despite passing through a particularly difficult section of the trail in New Hampshire, near Mount Washington. Meltzer encountered dense fog, cold air and gusty winds that resulted in longer running days and less rest.
Week two also brought challenges in the form of foot blisters as the Utah-based athlete traversed the White Mountains, which are known for their unforgiving terrain. As the week progressed, he entered Vermont, where he was greeted by more forgiving topography before moving into Massachusetts and its highest peak, Mount Greylock, which he handled well. He ended up running over 75km on day 14 to wrap up his second week on the trail.
Week three began with a scare for the team, when Meltzer lost contact with his crew at the end of a long day. He and his team use SPOT satellite trackers to help them reunite at planned meeting points and for emergencies. But something failed, and Meltzer benefitted from the charity of a stranger near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who provided him with a jacket, a blanket and his floor to sleep on to pass the night.
Meltzer reconnected with his crew the next day and regained his pace, achieving several 85km days as he passed Appalachian Trail landmarks, including the Dover Oak (the largest blazed white oak on the Appalachian Trail) and New York’s Bear Mountain State Park. By day 19, Meltzer had made his way into New Jersey, and with New York and Connecticut behind him, he focused on how best to combat the rising temperatures as he headed further south. Before he could even think about the heat, though, he needed to attend to his shins and knees, which after 20 days of running, had started to cause him pain. He rebounded to end week three by running 88km, thanks largely to the application of an ankle wrap and extra ice the night before.
Week four brought Meltzer through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The shin swelling continued to affect his pace, but careful and quick attention from his crew helped him keep on the pace. Meltzer recovered from the setback by pounding out several 80km days. He and his crew are feeling good and believe their plan for the remaining kilometres will put him in contention to set a new record for the trail.
Follow Meltzer’s progress with regular updates from the crew as well as statistics like average speed, calories burned, distance travelled and how many pairs of Hoka One One Speedgoat shoes he’s gone through.