Ultrarunner On Pace for Appalachian Trail Record

Karl Meltzer has completed over half of his 2,190-mile journey, averaging a 44-mile-per-day pace.
© Josh Campbell/Red Bull Content Pool
By Kevin McAvoy

As of Aug. 27 ultrarunner Karl Meltzer has completed 25 days of his grueling north-to-south thru-hike speed record attempt of the Appalachian Trail. He is currently on pace to set a new record of 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes or faster. So far, Meltzer has navigated 1,095 of the trail’s 2,190 miles while burning approximately 165,260 calories, taking 2,164,125 steps and averaging a speed of 3.1 mph. Meltzer is performing a supported run, crewed by a very few close friends and family members, and you can watch the adventure unfold here.

Meltzer started at Mount Katahdin in Maine on Aug. 3 and averaged more than 40 miles per day during the first week of his continuous 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 he traversed the White Mountains, which are known for their unforgiving terrain. As the week progressed, Meltzer 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 47 miles on day 14 to wrap up his second week on the trail.

Karl Meltzer Runs the Entire Appalachian Trail in 2016
Consulting yet another map during an energy break © Interpret Studios/Red Bull Content Pool

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 crew use SPOT satellite trackers to help them reunite at planned meeting points and for emergencies. The trackers did their job but there was some confusion over similarly named rural roads in the area which made the rendezvous point tough to find. Meltzer benefitted from the charity of a stranger near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who provided him 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 53-mile days as he passed recognizable 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 in his rearview he could focus on how best to combat the rising temperatures as he heads further south. Before he could even think about the heat however, he needed to attend to his shins and knees, which after 20 days of running started to cause him pain. He rebounded to end week three by running 55 miles with the aid of an ankle wrap and extra ice the night before. 

Week four brought Meltzer through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Shin swelling continued to affect his pace, but quick attention from his crew helped him rebound quickly. Meltzer recovered from the setback by pounding out several 50-plus-mile days. He and his crew are feeling good and believe their plan for the remaining miles will put him in record contention.

Follow Meltzer’s progress with regular updates from the crew as well as statistics like average speed, calories burned, miles traveled and how many pairs of HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat shoes he’s gone through.

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