JMT speed record attempt by Kurt Achtenhagen

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    Aaron Sorensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: South of Forester Pass

    So the JMT is 211 miles but you have to do 222.8 to get that record.

    Oh wait, you can cut it short and go up the MR and take 6 miles of that.

    I'm so confused.
    So we have (NoBo, SoBo, solo, team, supported, unsupported, accompanied, MR, female for each…).

    The whole car to car scenario has completely taken away from what the true record should be.
    Now with the MR, it's made it even more confusing.

    Even allowing Jared's attempt to count if he did get the record is just nonsense.

    MR is a much fast way up.

    Allen C
    BPL Member


    All this discussion about categories is totally arbitrary. Not every awesome and/or ground-breaking achievement will fit neatly into our arbitrary pre-defined boxes, which is kind of the point, after all. As long as they are honest and upfront about what they do and how they do it, the categories don't really matter.

    Ralph Burgess
    BPL Member


    Yes, the scenario I gave was a reductio ad absurdum that distracts from the central question.

    To me, the key issue is that going in a group of any kind (even if food & kit are not shared) is fundamentally different from facing the challenges of the wilderness alone. You can't say "well, they were together, but they didn't help each other". It IS helpful to have somebody else there to give psychological support, to share navigation, pacing and decision making, to provide a safety net in case of accident or sickness. It takes away a lot of the mental pressure. (If it's not significantly helpful to be together, then why not leave at different times?)

    In many respects, "team unsupported" is probably more fun and certainly a lot more sensible. Certainly, for a more dangerous route like the Sierra High Route, I couldn't envision taking the risk of attempting an unsupported FKT without a partner (yes, I know, Ueli Steck is laughing at me…)

    But for all the merits of "team unsupported", I think it's in a different category from, say – Anish on the PCT, Brett Maune or Andrew Bentz on the JMT.

    Ito Jakuchu
    BPL Member


    Locale: Japan

    "I don't think anyone has launched a team effort without sincerely intending that every member of the team will finish. I also think it's pretty unlikely that one person drops and the other finishes under the record. In my view if they finish together under the record then they both have the unsupported record."

    Like your approach to the SPOT tracking, and proof discussion, your thoughts make a lot of sense to me (I was merely commenting on the mental side and how that is a factor, not sure if it read that way but it wasn't intended as an argument for a separate category).

    Ito Jakuchu
    BPL Member


    Locale: Japan

    Aaron wrote "His 3rd place at the much harder than the JMT Tour De Giants is pretty nuts."

    Wow, I've been following the Tour de Geants on TV a couple of times (they have quite extensive coverage). Very very tough race.
    I'm a lot in Italy and fast packing it is on my list of what I want to do there, hopefully with some Italian climber I know (i.e. not racing, and not by myself).

    Cayenne Redmonk
    BPL Member


    Locale: Greater California Ecosystem

    "We came from that way, let's go !",

    "Better water at XXX, let's push"

    So. Clearly. Supported.

    Although, there is there other type of group, motivating but competitive.

    'Hi guys, just wanted to say one more time that the last full moon in July of 2016 nobody is starting the JMT FKT run at the summit at 00:00, and certainly nobody will be providing support. If you get confused and show up, bring a SPOT, and be prepared to feed, cloth, and shelter yourselves as needed.'

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    >"a team of 5 guys go with you from the start as part of an "unsupported" effort, have them navigate and pace you 3/4 of the way as they progressively drop out "

    Dog mushers say, "You're only as fast as your slowest dog." So on a 1,049-mile race, their "slower" (which might be strong but for fewer miles) dogs are pushed a bit more while the faster dogs save some of their energy for the finish. And they drop dogs as they go – as many as 11 of the 16 starting dogs can be dropped. None can be added.

    At an extreme, yeah, it could become like mountain-climbing siege tactics. Your mules push themselves for two days and carry more weight to give the thoroughbred(s) an advantage, and that doesn't seem a level playing field with a solo, unsupported effort.

    Even if 6 racers start off honestly planning to finish together, I'd expect it to be a bit of my above scenario whenever anyone drops out (and someone WOULD drop out). When someone drops out, they're going to adjust gear and food to the benefit of their buddy(s) who are continuing on.

    Ralph's thoughts about mental concentration – plus route finding, companionship, a greater sense of safety-in-numbers, even dog-piling together at night for warmth – those are big advantages offered by a group.

    Dave G
    BPL Member


    Check in/OK message at the Taboose Pass jct. – looks like he's heading out. :{


    Adam White
    BPL Member


    Locale: On the switchbacks

    Yep – his stop last night wasn't where he planned to stop, and he stopped for much longer than he was planning.

    Hope he's okay!

    Allen C
    BPL Member


    Kurt is over Taboose Pass and heading out. Bummer that he had to bail, I hope he is OK too – looks like he's moving pretty well so my guess is he's not injured aside from the usual psychological damage. Will be interesting to hear Kurt's story when he gets out.

    On the brighter side, I'm really looking forward to seeing how Jared and Ty do on their run. I think it is cool that they are starting with the Mountaineers Route (a more direct approach and one that I'm sure John Muir would have favored over the Whitney trail) and that they are planning a very different approach/strategy for where and how long to sleep. Clearly these guys are experienced with long distances in the mountains and sleep deprivation, although perhaps not to this degree – does anyone know if either of them have done anything comparable in distance/elevation/time in the past?

    Whether or not they succeed, I think we will all learn something from it. Should be very interesting indeed.

    Art …
    BPL Member


    " does anyone know if either of them have done anything comparable in distance/elevation/time in the past? "

    Allen – go to Jared's link in my earlier post. read abut some of his adventures.

    He is literally the toughest guy in America in my view.
    Hardrock winner.
    2 time Barkley finisher.
    Nolan's 14 finisher.
    many others, he makes up his own really hardcore adventures.

    Ty has done Hardrock but I don't know much else about him.

    Allen C
    BPL Member


    Art, thanks…I guess I should have been more explicit. I know Jared has finished Barkeley twice and won at Hardrock, although I was not aware of the Nolan's 14. Clearly he is tough as nails and fast as well (as in world class).

    Having said that, Hardrock is 100 miles (although with an elevation profile comparable to the JMT) and the winners typically finish in around 24 hours. Barkley is also 100 miles, and both Barkley and Nolans have a 60 hour cutoff. Brett apparently said that his JMT FKT was harder than Barkley and the hardest thing he'd ever done. So I guess what I'm asking is have they done anything over 200 miles and/or 80+ hours before, with comparable elevation gain?

    I'm definitely not trying to imply that these guys are inexperienced – they are far more experienced than me and probably more than anyone else who has attempted the JMT. However there seems to be a big difference in practice between going for 100+ miles/60 hours versus going for 200+ miles/80+ hours. I'm just wondering if they have any experience in this realm as that would likely increase their chances of success.

    I'm psyched to see guys of this caliber going for the JMT FKT, and especially doing it in unsupported/team unsupported style. I'm sure they are gunning for Leor's time as well – it will be very interesting to see how they do.

    Ryan Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: East TN

    Agree with Ralph. In my mind, you have to do the same hike or a more difficult hike(more restrictions) as the current record holder. Hiking with others is so helpful mentally that I don't see how it wouldn't qualify as support.


    Art …
    BPL Member


    I don't think there are very many routes or courses in the 200+ mile range that are on people's radar. And consequently not many athletes that specialize in that distance right now. So for the moment the 60 hour routes will have to do as an indicator.

    with the introduction of 200 mile mountain races in the US this may change in the future,
    there are 2 or 3 200 mile mountain events this year.
    the Bigfoot 215 is going on right now.

    the only real differences I see between a 30 or 60 hour event and an 80-90 hour event is first the sleep issue. Those who can personally solve this will have the most success at 80-90 hours. And second, the pacing issue. I've watched people attempt the JMT since early 2000's and in my opinion just about everyone goes out to fast and simply tries to drag themselves thru the final 60 miles.

    Kurt Achtenhagen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boulder, CO

    Well, I'm still in one piece :-)

    Obviously not what I wanted, but that was a hell of a fun day! Perfect weather, covering ground in the high mtns. I really felt great until the end of the day.

    Somewhere late afternoon, my belly was having a tough time digesting calories. I continued to push on wanting to take advantage of daylight. By the time I stopped, I was way in a hole. Sipping water was tough. I ended up getting ~200 calories in. Then moved my sleep spot as the mosquitoes were terrible. Poor choice of spots given my decreased capabilities.

    I intentionally didn't set an alarm, knowing my body needed time to reset from the lack of calories. When I woke up and started walking, legs felt weak, and I still wasn't able to take in calories. By the top of Pinchot Pass, I knew out was the best option.

    In hindsight, my 12:01am start, left me with a short sleep before going, and then it was still daylight when I was ready to call it a day.

    Huge thanks to Adam for the charting. Numerous family and friends have said they appreciated the story of what was happening. SPOT could clearly learn from you!

    Huge thanks to Ralph for sharing his experience, wisdom and time charts!!

    And, a huge thanks to Jackie for front end logistics, and driving straight to Taboose TH when she saw me turn!

    Allen C
    BPL Member



    Glad to hear you are OK, and sorry that you had to bail! If it makes you feel any better, I have bailed 3 times now, once at Kearsarge Pass, once at Bishop Pass, and most recently at Agnew Meadows.

    What kinds of foods were you eating? Have you had similar digestive issues before or was this the first time? just curious what might have contributed…

    I was wondering about the midnight start…It apparently worked for Andrew but it seems to me that unless you are able to sleep a lot in the days prior that it puts you in a hole at the outset that might be hard to climb out of.

    BPL Member


    About Jared:

    >> He is literally the toughest guy in America in my view.
    >> Hardrock winner.
    >> 2 time Barkley finisher.
    >> Nolan's 14 finisher.
    >> many others, he makes up his own really hardcore adventures

    If you haven't already seen the clip below, it's amazing to see how much fun this guy has running mountains!

    West Slabs of Olympus…..

    And his Barkley 2014 race report from irunfar:

    Sorry I just saw this thread…apologies if this is all old hat…..

    Adam White
    BPL Member


    Locale: On the switchbacks

    +1, Glad you're alright!

    Kurt Achtenhagen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boulder, CO

    Thanks All!

    Allen – I was relying on perpetuem ~4,900 calories a day, 500 calories of recoverite, and 1 gel shot each day. Essentially this is what really worked for me last year on my southbound 4 day. Until the last day that is!

    So not sure, but here are some theories I'm thinking about….
    1) The body was still pissed from last year, and the taste now has a physical association with it that my body reverted too. Ok, far fetched, but maybe I need to look into other food sources.

    2) Electrolyte imbalance – again I don't think so, but having calories sloshing around in my belly makes me wonder. I was peeing fine, not excessively, never crazy yellow either. I was using endurolytes. Last year I took 18 a day, one every hour, sometimes two in the middle of the day with heat. This year, I took in 14 on Monday. Not as regimented every hour, but still pretty consistent.

    3) Pace – I was definitely traveling faster than last year. Intensity was definitely higher. My only real stop was a quick swim in Rae lakes to reset mid afternoon. Perhaps that pace was just enough higher that my body was giving the digestive system less resources to work with.

    I'm open to any other ideas that folks have, so bring them on! I don't really relish putting myself that far out there to start testing various scenarios to eliminate ideas, but that might be the only way to take it up a notch.


    Art …
    BPL Member


    that sounds like a reasonable theory from my experience.
    everyone's body has a pace at which it starts rebelling.
    there is probably some flexibility in this on any particular event,
    but there is a limit.
    and I understand that taste association thing.
    14 or 18 enduralytes a day sounds a bit high to me given that perpetuem has electrolytes in it. but you know your body.

    in 100 mile ultra events, stomach upset is pretty common for many runners and happens for various reasons.
    for me pace and heat are the two main culprits.
    some get it every time, some get it only infrequently.

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