Jul 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm #1330487
I'm going to try for the John Muir Trail unsupported speed record, starting next Wednesday July 8th.
*** 7/6 8am EDIT: WEATHER FORECAST IS DETERIORATING, HIGH PROB Cbs, OVERNIGHT FREEZING LEVEL ~10,000 FEET, HIGHLY LIKELY THAT I DELAY TO DEPART SATURDAY 7/11 ***
*** FURTHER UPDATE: WEATHER LOOKS GOOD FROM SATURDAY, GOT A PERMIT – STARTING 7/11 5am ***
Over the next day or two, I will put up some information about my planning – pacing, sleep strategy, food, kit etc.
The primary verification will be a SPOT device, so there will be nowhere to hide… I'll put up a public link for real time GPS tracking the day before I start. I expect also that people will see me out there in person. I put up a note on the JMT Yahoo group a week ago, hoping that some thru-hikers (many of whom will have started since then) will see me and report back.
If any BPLers are out in the Sierras July 8th – 11th, please do give a shout if you see me. Itinerary will follow shortly. This is what I look like, in pretty much the clothes & kit I will be using:
Jul 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm #2212393
Here are a few links for those who may be interested in the history of the JMT record.
Peter Bakwin's "Fastest Known Time" site:
An fascinating BPL thread from 2009-10 including reports from Brett Maune, Michael Popov and others:
The trip report from last year by the current record holder, Andrew Bentz:
http://www.palantepacks.com/blogJul 5, 2015 at 5:30 pm #2212411Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Catra Corbett will be going for the wemon's unsupported attempt the same day heading north bound.
I'll be up there 6-9, but I won't see you unless you're heading south?
I'm taking it this is unsupported as well?
Andrew's pace was crazy fast.
Fastest person (including Leor) to reach Donahue Pass.
Good luck!Jul 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm #2212413Allen CBPL Member
Ralph, best of luck!Jul 5, 2015 at 6:01 pm #2212424
Aaron, I'm going NOBO – the real record this time. An old man like me may not have a big chance unless the stars align absolutely perfectly – but I'm at least gunning for Peter Bakwin's time!
Interesting that Catra is planning on the same day. She's unsupported too, right? Obviously we don't know each other at all, so I hope there won't be any issue with two unsupported efforts going at the same time. I'm planning on a 5am start from the Portal. I have a detailed plan for my split times, I'll post it up shortly.
p.s. please tell Catra if I find her sleeping in my bivy spot, I will have no hesitation in stealing her food. It's unsupported food, so that's fine, right?Jul 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm #2212429
btw, Aaron – was that a bit of false modestly on behalf of Catra? She's not going for the women's unsupported record, she's going for THE unsupported record! (and she has a darn sight better chance than me)Jul 5, 2015 at 6:15 pm #2212430Art …BPL Member
according to Catra's blog she is going for the women's unsupported record which is 6 days and a few hours I believe.
funny thing is she did under 6 days when doing her JMT yoyo a few years back.
but apparently she cached a few supplies on the route so it didn't count as unsupported.Jul 5, 2015 at 6:20 pm #2212431
Thanks Art, I'll check out her blog. But surely she has the credentials to go way way faster than 6 days?
ps – I do like the fact that she's going unsupported. Completely subjective of course, but I think it's a far more interesting challenge, and I'd love to see more runners go that way.Jul 5, 2015 at 6:25 pm #2212432Richard CullipBPL Member
@richardcullipLocale: San Diego County
Best of luck to you. I'm looking forward to seeing your gear list and see how you are going stuff a bear canister in that pack.Jul 5, 2015 at 6:42 pm #2212441Greg MihalikBPL Member
A canister is only required between Pinchot and Forester, about 30 miles, IF you camp there, ergo, not an issue if you plan well. Same is true in Yosemite – no camping, no canister. "Just a day hike Mr. Ranger."Jul 5, 2015 at 7:14 pm #2212455John S.BPL Member
Good luck Ralph!Jul 5, 2015 at 7:34 pm #2212460Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacks
I've said it elsewhere, but good luck Ralph!
I've got my Power Bars lined up to suffer through it with you.
I'll be out in the Sierra conducting various shenanigans over the next few weeks, but it looks like I'll miss you.Jul 5, 2015 at 8:22 pm #2212476rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Good luck Ralph! Looking forward to your gear list.Jul 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm #2212477
Thanks for the kind comments.
So, I'm 51 (it's my birthday today), and I have no distance running credentials whatsoever. Why am I doing this? Well, first of all, there are a number of interesting targets short of the record that I'd be proud to beat. Just going under 4 days would be an achievement; then there's Peter Bakwin's 3d22h4m and Sue Johnston's 3d20h (both supported); and Brett Maune's game-changing unsupported 3d14h13m. However, if I didn't think I stood ANY chance of beating Andrew Bentz's 3d11h00m, I wouldn't be going.
As it stands, the record is not a run, it's a hike. Allowing for 8-10 hours of sleep, the average speed required is around 3mph. If running were required, I'd have no chance, since I just don't have the biomechanical running efficiency of serious distance runners. But 3mph does not rule me out.
Both Brett & Andrew's trip reports acknowledge that they made certain mistakes. Both are undoubtedly better athletes than me – but they both could have gone faster. So it's clear that I need everything to be absolutely perfect to match them – both in terms of meticulous preparation, and finding good luck with factors such as weather and temperature. The only physical advantages that I may have are that I seem to recover quite well on multi-day efforts; and I have a robust digestive system – I'm able to take in and digest a lot of calories while on the move.Jul 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm #2212478Greg MihalikBPL Member
May the stars align.
Best of Luck.Jul 5, 2015 at 8:43 pm #2212480Hudson FarrisBPL Member
I also find unsupported attempts much more interesting (to read about) than supported ones. Look forward to seeing the gear list and hearing the post trip report!
Good Luck to you sir!Jul 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm #2212484
In time trial efforts, it's critical not to start too fast. The best times are usually posted by athletes who judge their pace for constant effort. It seems to me that most FKT attempts have started too fast.
In order to manage my pace effectively, I worked out in some detail the split times that I will reference for the JMT route. I started with Elizabeth Wenk's mileages and elevations, which have proved accurate, and estimated suitable relative pacing for each segment based on steepness of gradients and my memory of the difficulty of the trail segment. I then covered the entire trail at least once in training and preparation over the past month and verified or adjusted these split times. These split times do not factor in how tired I expect to be at each stage – they only reflect the relative difficulty of the terrain in each section. So, I'd expect to be going a little quicker that the splits early in the day, and to fall back as I tire later in the day. On the third day, I will certainly be slower. But they should help me to keep the terrain-adjusted pace as even as possible while targeting 3mph overall.
I don't know if this image will be legible, but here are the splits I'm using. If anyone wants these for their own use in spreadsheet form, drop me a PM.
** edit 7/10 – images removed, I have reposted my pacing schedule below with the new start date **Jul 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm #2212488
From the above splits, you'll see that my planned first day is 52 miles with a 4-hour sleep at Woods Creek. My second day is 72 miles with a 4-hour sleep after Bear Creek.
Day one is relatively short, because the terrain and elevations are most difficult, and the pack is heaviest; and because I want to start conservatively and protect my body early on. Most critically, however, I believe that it's important for best recovery to sleep as low as possible. Woods Creek is around 8,500 feet, a perfect location with a bear box, easy bivy spots and water. After that there is nowhere below 10,000 feet before dropping down from Mather to the Middle Fork of the King's and that's just too far.
Day two tackles Pinchot, Mather and Muir. These are huge long passes, but generally not too steep, and are probably my best terrain – I dislike a constant change of pace, but I can settle into a steady heart rate to push up these long climbs. Again, I've tried to find a low-lying location to sleep for maximum recovery.
Day three (through to the finish) is somewhat open. I've shown it as a continuous 97-mile push, right through the third night, with the finish paced to be 2.5 hours quicker than Andrew's time. I don't really expect to achive that – it just reflects some uncertainty over strategy, as I will be in unknown territory here. That 2.5 hours is a cushion either for resting, if the sleep deprivation becomes too debilitating, or just a slowing of pace if I decide to try to push through.Jul 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm #2212492jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Ralph: are you thinking of acclimating at all before you begin? Spend a few days at 10,00-11,00 feet, then start? Heck, put it off and spend a two weeks…it makes a difference.Jul 5, 2015 at 9:55 pm #2212495
Yup, it makes a huge difference. Although I'm lucky not to suffer from any AMS symptoms at these altitudes, of course nobody's immune to the lack of oxygen affecting cardio performance, and the literature says it can take as much as a month for erythrocyte levels to increase to the max for a given altitude.
So – I have been at 8000 feet or higher for a month. Ten days before the start I spent 2 nights at 14,500 feet (guess where?), followed by a few more nights at 11,000 feet. There's a time lag on the erythropoiesis, so I think you need to be doing this at least a week before the start.
The last two nights before I start I'm dropping back down (4000' in Lone Pine), which I think makes sense for maximum rest & recovery – I don't think in 2 days you lose any conditioning. Plus, Alabama Hills Cafe for carbo loading.Jul 5, 2015 at 10:27 pm #2212498
You're burning maybe 15,000 kcal per day doing this – you can't possibly eat enough to offset that. So your body progressively deteriorates, eating itself – and most people who try an FKT have precious little fat on them, so your body's eating its own muscle, too.
To slow down this process of deterioration, it's absolutely essential to get as many calories inside you as possible. It's clear from their trip reports that both Brett and Andrew were acutely aware of the need to eat as much as they possibly could, and they planned for it and carried a lot – but both of them had difficulties with their food. If nothing else, I aspire to out-eat them.
I'm planning on eating 22,000 calories in total – around 300 per hour while moving, with a 1500 calorie dump into my body (I hesitate to call it "dinner") consumed in the last hour before I stop moving at the end of day one and day two.
A major reason for my steady pacing plan in the early stages is that I want to be certain that I'm eating enough. Essentially, the purpose of day one and day two is not to be staggeringly fast. It is to deliver me to the beginning of day 3, ideally close to my planned split time, with 8 hours solid recovery sleep at low altitude, and with about 15,000 calories consumed. I think this is the only way for me to have any chance to hold the required pace through that third day.
You can't digest much protein or fat while on the move, so it's almost all carbs. Maltodextrin (short polymers of glucose) is a popular choice – the bonds are easily broken, so it's just as easily digested as glucose; in fact there's some evidence that one large malto molecule is absorbed into the gut faster than several small glucose molecules. Also, it's not sickeningly sweet.
However, I can't deal with powders such as Perpetuum. I find them too difficult to handle, especially when I know I'll be exhausted and malcoordinated. And with so much water on the trail, there's really no need to carry more than half a liter of water. So with dissolved powders, you're either spending a lot of time making frequent small batches, or you're making large batches and carrying way more water weight than you need to. I like to manage my water consumption separately – at night I will be drinking far less, but eating the same.
So, it's Power Bars. Their "C2MAX" blurb talks somewhat confusingly about a glucose/fructose mix, but in fact it's maltodextrin/fructose. They cite some thin evidence that the mixture of the two carbs yields more energy because fructose is metabolized via a different pathway. Anyway, it approximates solid maltodextrin in a form that I find edible and digestible. I've eaten over 7000 calories of the things on a 50-mile test run at race pace, with normal digestion.
It's also somewhat important that they contain virtually no fiber. The 4g insoluble fiber in a Clif Bar may be a health boon if you're eating a couple of them, but if you're planning to eat about 30 a day…. I think I've said enough.Jul 6, 2015 at 12:12 am #2212510Ito JakuchuBPL Member
Awesome preparation thread. Hope you have a good time out there.
I'm curious about your gear list, or at least base and total pack weight.
About that food, no added protein at that end of day 1500 calorie dump?
Any electrolytes/magnesium etc supplements?
Good luck/have fun!Jul 6, 2015 at 5:42 am #2212532Mike MBPL Member
best of luck! I'd also be interested in a gear list, your pack looks interesting :)
I would definitely consider at least some protein during the day and most definitely at "night", also a little fat wouldn't hurt either- complex carbs are great fuel, but in my experience when distances/time increase some protein/fat needs to be addedJul 6, 2015 at 5:55 am #2212534Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Expect day 2 to take between 23 to 25 hours. If day one is 20 hours, that means getting to Edison in 48 hours is still doing extremely well.
Hardest thing to do while out there is to predict sleep locations. It's better to go until you know you'll need sleep then eat a bunch a few hours prior so you can blow through those calories and warm up. Then when you're tiered enough to just lie down and instantly crash, you go ahead and do that right in that location.
Where all supported attempts have lost precious time is meeting crews and trying to eat and sleep with the crew.
It would be so much better if a crew just left with the you for a few hours while you blew though all of your excitement and food you just eat.Jul 6, 2015 at 6:54 am #2212545.BPL Member
Best of luck Ralph. Give 'em hell.
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