Tahoe Rim Trial Unsupported Record, round 2

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    Aaron Sorensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: South of Forester Pass

    There hasn't been too much talk about record runs around anymore. Not many of us wierdos that do it either. I made an attempt at the TRT Unsupported Record in 2009. An Unsupported Attempt had not yet been established on the trail, but I went for an all or nothing approach. I was trying to maintain a 3 mph pace or 56 hours and fell apart the first day with the heat. It ended up being the hottest day of the year at 92 degrees and millions of mosquitoes. Dicks Pass was not fun either with plenty of snow on the pass. Since I went against the traffic flow going counter clockwise, I had to kick footholds getting up to the pass for over a ½ mile. My inner thighs were destroyed after that and was unable to run anymore. I also spent 2 extra hours meandering around that night looking for the trail through all the snow mounds and watery mess going from Echo to Big Meadow. I still managed a reasonable 63 miles the first day. This was starting from Tahoe City at 6am and getting to Echo Lake by 9pm.
    Here is the link from my 2009 attempt:

    Two years later and the record has been established and broken. My best friend Michael Popov has it right now, however the original person who broke it is trying to say that he didn’t go unsupported due to the fact that his sister showed up at one of the intersections and took a picture of him, (yet he broke the record by 11 ½ hours).
    The record is 77 hours and 13 mins. Michael is going to try to lower this record before I head out for my attempt. He is doing a Triple, running the TRT, biking to road then kayaking the lake. His main focus however will be to get the unsupported record down. It’s still a far cry from the sub 60 hour time. He just hiked to trial to get the record and was in no hurry. The original record was a sad 85 hours. Michael is also running Hardrock this year as well as going for the John Muir Trail Supported Record.

    So here I am 2 ½ months until the attempt. I am only starting this post so early because I am board out of my mind right now. I am in the Coast Guard and our ship is on a southern patrol for 2 months. I am also in need of some good old fashion backpacking conversation as I still believe this record needs to get down below 56 hours for a 3 mph pace.
    There are plenty things I am changing to help with this. This year I will start at Big Meadow and go clockwise. This will get me over the hill to Echo in the day light. At night that part of the course is the most difficult to navigate. This will also get me through the wilderness and the rockiest section of the trail the first day. During most of the supported attempts they have saved the rocks for the end and end up 3 hours off the time going through the wilderness. More reasons for starting at Big Meadow and going c/c are that the start of day 2 you are going uphill toward Roes all day. At night, going up is a slow. Night 2 will be the start of the no water for 20 miles section. Since I will be going at a slower pace at night anyway, having more water during this section at night makes sense. You also don’t need to drink as much at night so I’ll be able to carry less water to get me through this section. There is also more descent going c/c throught this section.
    So this is the plan. I am trying for a 56 to 60 hour time with the sub 56 hours as the carrot.

    Gear will be very minimal. I have a 7.6 ounce homemade jacket and a 2.2 ounce h/m wind jacket. I also made a sleeping bag out of Through Hikers M50 with 12 ounces of 900 down. The bag weighs 18 ounces. I did not take a bag last time and the two 20 min naps I got were lousy. I will need a 1 ½ to 2 hours of sleep the second night. I think the extra weight is worth getting some good sleep. Other than change of sock, some gloves and lite baklava, the only other items will be the most basic, deet, maps, water purification tabs, a ground cloth and 5 lbs of food consisting of 3 lbs of mostly Gue and Jel and 2 pounds Hammer Perpetuim/ Heed mix.

    I will bring a GPS and a Spot. I do not plan on looking at my watch at all until I set an alarm at night before taking a nap. Falling behind and trying to speed up or being ahead and mentally slowing down takes a tool on you and I would rather just wing it. Besides, you spend so much time planning things out that you pretty much just know what your pace is going to be. It’s hard to push beyond what you are doing the entire time out there and pacing after a set time has never worked for me. I’ll just hit the Spot button a bunch of time a day and at all the intersections to be able to have the splits when I’m done

    So I am open for discussion and would like to know what you think. I would like to hear more about what strategy I should use to try to save enough time to get this record under the 56 hours that it should be.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Oregon

    I look forward to following your training and prep as well as your record attempt. Your plan seems well thought out.

    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    "So I am open for discussion and would like to know what you think."

    What I think? I think you guys are nuts! Godspeed!

    Seriously, the amount of mental and physical stress you guys put yourselves through is mind boggling-pure endurance. I've nothing more to say than best of luck in your attempt Aaron.

    Three quick questions:

    How beneficial is 1-2hrs. during something like this? Is there a point where it's too little too late, would pushing through be better?

    Also, what are you doing while away onboard ship for training? How are you getting in mileage and maintaining your base?

    I follow the Twittr race feed on the big summer ultras (Western, Hardrock, Leadville), where does Michael Popov sit in the field, expectations, projected finish time?

    Art …
    BPL Member


    " This will also get me through the wilderness and the rockiest section of the trail the first day. During most of the supported attempts they have saved the rocks for the end and end up 3 hours off the time going through the wilderness. "

    Aaron, I do some ultra running, and I often speculate on when is the best/worst time for the really slow difficult rocky sections.
    Killian and crew must have felt later was better, and yet you are thinking sooner is better.
    The rocky parts will slow you down and weaken your body if you hit them early when still fresh.
    On the other hand, the rocks may do you in if you hit them when wasted. Of course you are already tired and slow so picking thru the rocks won't slow you down as much.

    I can totally agree with doing the difficult navigation early, when fresh, if you have a choice.

    The controversy between Popov and Bradley just proves its time to tighten the verification guidelines for FKT attempts. Taking claims on faith is not good enough anymore.

    Aaron Sorensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: South of Forester Pass

    The only thing I can think of why leaving the most difficult section until the end would be that if something were to happen such a sprain or twist, you should be able to just walk the rest of the way and finish.
    I reality, the TRT has nothing on the JMT as far as difficulty of terrain goes. The JMT destroys you day after day.

    As far as just pushing through night 2. I just do not have that ability. I completed 233 miles at Across the Years 72 hour run and was good with 5 1/2 hours of sleep. There are a few that can just get through 3 full days. I can not understand how they do it? During the JMT and TRT I literally found myself going down to my knees to lie down with out even knowing I was doing it until I hit the ground with my knees.
    I also did Primal Quest in Utah and got 17 hours of sleep in 10 1/2 days. It wasn't enough sleep and our pace really suffered at night from the lack of sleep.
    Hallucinations can take over and mess with your brain so much that the pace drops down to nothing. Just getting 30 minutes of sleep can keep you on your projected pace for a good 3 hours. In that 3 hours, I'm sure I could make up the 45 minutes I lost while sleeping.
    Any amount of sleep adds to the benefit of the next night as well. Zero sleep on night one means you are going to be trippen by 1am. With a few naps the night before you can usually push until 3am before you are in the same state you would have been at 1am.
    This is just how it works for me anyways.

    Michael is in decent shape and took 10th at HURT this year. He is in even better shape now, so I imagine a 15-20th spot would be in order. Not sure what that works out to in time.
    Michael’s biggest dilemma is his inability to handle the lack of sleep on his attempts. He falls apart with any less than 4-5 hours of sleep a night after anything that last for more than one day. If he gets that sleep his hiking pace is insane. With his pace he can easily get the JMT Record. Then you take off the 6 hours extra sleep he needs and it becomes more of a deficit than he can make up for.

    This is why I like going for these records. I am super slow, have no form, could never be competitive any type of 100 miler or below. But I have the ability to get little sleep, recover “almost” instantly, and just keep going. I just start getting into a grove by the 4th day. My right leg is ¾” long than my left from 2 surgeries when I was young. My ankles start to fall apart after too much running. When I mean too much, I mean that I would love to do the 6 and 10 day races, but my feet won’t let me. I also have to run all dirt and trails. I’ve ran for 105 miles in my first 24 hour run on 40% road and feel apart by mile 90. I did some serious damage to my ankle and couldn’t run for over 3 months.

    As far as training on the ship. I can not run more than 30-50 mile weeks with my ankle anyway and I can easily get that on the ship. My ankle has always been my scapegoat.

    Aaron Sorensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: South of Forester Pass

    I had signed up to run the Plain 100 miler next weekend (106 miles, 21,000' in elevation gain, and 1 aid station) which met the Tahoe Rim Trail Unsupported Record was going to have to take a back seat until next year.

    Then low and behold a change in plans happened and both my friend Michael and I decided to ditch Plain and go do the TRT.
    I immediately got this overwhelming felling when I brought up the idea of going and it was decided. That feeling of oh crap, I'm not sure if I'm up to this. Going for a record is at least 75% mental as long as you are in shape for it.
    It is so to try and maintain a pace day in and out with no one there to keep you going. But maybe the build in my head is what becomes my own demise? Just maybe getting out there and doing it is what will be best.

    I am already going to put my watch away for this attempt and just get myself to the finish the most efficiently and quickly I can over the loop.
    i will write up a good trip report when I get back..

    Wish me luck!

    edgar desert rat


    Looks like both attempts fell apart…

    edgar desert rat


    3rd time should be a charm!

    Cayenne Redmonk
    BPL Member


    Locale: Greater California Ecosystem

    The new TRT Unsupported record has been set at 63:54 — Michael Popov

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    Holy crap! Great job Michael. Now sit down you deserve it.

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