I’d walk for a minute with my bottle in my mouth only to get a mouthful of water. The Long Trail traverses the state of Vermont and runs from the northern to the southern border. Even though I’m in the more technical section, the terrain seems noticeably friendlier than the prior two days. We laugh about how ridiculous, yet enjoyable, this whole experience is. Joe 'Stringbean' McConaughy set a new record on the Appalachian Trail today, beating both unsupported and supported times. I’ve been hiking the whole day lifting and sucking on my water bottle to try to get whatever water I can. It just must be closer to 1/3 than 2/3. Long Trail Announcement – Part ILong Trail FKT Recap – Part II (congrats, you’re here)Long Trail Gear List & Review – Part III Long Trail Food & Sleep Strategy – Part IV. I examine the filter and notice a small plastic O-ring is suspiciously missing. My feet follow instinctively. The sun begins to fall in the sky, and I begin to ponder my sleep strategy. I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a long day. I have to stick it out. His solution was to make “trail smoothies” where McConaughy would take some of the food he brought—for instance, a bag of Fritos—put it in a plastic bag, add water, shake it up, and drink the makeshift concoction. Despite everything going on, I’M DOING IT. Designed without switchbacks, the Long Trail is known for relentless ups and downs, rocks, roots, and mud. When McConaughy set out on June 10 on an attempt to break the self-supported speed record for Vermont’s Long Trail, he carried eight stones in his pack, each inscribed with the name of a Black victim of violence—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and … I was planning on doing the Long Trail… The first day went off smoothly. My legs burn and my heart rate skyrockets. After 42 miles that day, I cuddle up just past Middlebury Gap. (He’s raised over $6,000 so far, and is aiming to hit $12,000. I was out of water again. Finally, I can run without foot pain. The beauty of an FKT attempt is in the journey itself, not in the finish or the time. Nevertheless, after about 3 miles of painful running, the pain subsides. He hiked the 2,190 … But Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy had a good reason. “Well, if you want some of my water, we are about to get off trail. Despite being self-reliant on trail, (well, almost), I still needed Katie’s loving help and support to get to the start line. Over the next 30 minutes, I drink a water, kombucha, hot chai tea, and Heady Topper. Anyone whoâs hiked or run the 273 mile Long Trail knows it is a unique beast. Worth. I bump into a hiker named Kaleidoscope near Cowles’ Cover Shelter. I take a wrong turn and lose 20 minutes. 11:20PM. I recently tested negative and the symptoms didn’t quite line up. I am beyond words. There has to be a conscious effort to eat. Caution to the wind, I try to hold this pace until the big incline of Stratton. The light allows me to baby-step forward. With coldness trying to permeate my quilt, I try to catch a little sleep. Beyond this new water struggle, I haven’t even covered 100 miles in the first 2 days. New Long Trail Men’s FKT on the 273 mile Vermont Long Trail - 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes ⛰⚡️. The next few hours are a whirlwind, I cover 15 miles in 3 hours. Since leaving the northern section, the trail feels like buffed out West Coast Trail. Drew covers a variety of subjects for Runner’s World and Bicycling, and he specializes in writing and editing human interest pieces while also covering health, wellness, gear, and fitness for the brand. Finally, I hit a rhythm and started to relax. That’s odd. The blister on my right foot popped naturally. I plug my Petzl Nao headlamp into my battery pack. He had captured fastest known times (FKTs) on the Pacific Crest Trail in California and the Appalachian Trail (AT)—the latter of which he still holds the self-supported record. The only thing that my throat agrees to are Fritos. Things are not going well. Terrible call. He also consumed a DiGiorno pizza the day after while he stayed off his feet that kept swelling up like elephants. It is now the afternoon, and the rain is clearing up. My system needs food. I start running any uphill section that I can handle. As I depart, I wonder how much different life would be if I didn’t feel this desire to push the extreme limits of the human body. Minimize camp set up and take down. McConaughy he planned to go unsupported, meaning he would carry all of his gear and food with him from the start and receive no assistance during his trek. I find myself even being able to comfortably run on some uphill sections. At the beginning, I was obsessed with timing, pace and progress. With 125 miles to go, I’m beginning to count down the time. It’s pitch dark. The trail is an FKT (Fastest Known Time) classic, boasting five new records since 2018. Its endless rocks, roots, exposed peaks and steep climbs make it unlike anything Iâve ever run/power hiked/frolicked thru. The Long Trail has now joined with the Appalachian Trail. I cross my fingers that it will have a full charge after my nap. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. The iPhone is considerably less powerful, but I’m going up a steep climb so I don’t need to move fast. She has received multiple text messages from me, each more dire than the next. Katie kindly carries the bag to the start and remarks that the bag is outrageously heavy, giving me a lot of confidence pre-trail. The battery pack is dead, but the headlamp reads only one of three bars is charged. “Uh, no. His final time was 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes, beating the the previous unsupported record by almost 24 hours. My pace differential is shocking. To finish in time, McConaughy hiked about 19 hours a day, averaging 54.5 miles per day. If only I had known. Now it felt like a cakewalk. I also indulge in some power chia balls purchased from the Food Co-op. String Bean put his sights on the unsupported Long Trail Speed Record. How we test gear. My feet now have two large blisters on each arch, my throat hurts more and my shoulders and back are sore from the pack. To make them go down easier, I pour some filtered water into the bag. Well, if my right foot feels great with a popped blister, why don’t I speed up the process on my left foot? With 1-2 more nights remaining, my headlamp reads two-thirds charged, my iPhone was just recharged and my Anker battery pack has a half charge remaining. I’m desperately cold. My movement isn’t restricted by a trail. String Bean put his sights on the unsupported Long Trail Speed Record. I still have 170 miles to go, and the next 70 are supposed to be the nastiest. On Tuesday, August 25 th at approximately 3 A.M., Joe “String Bean” McConaughy” will attempt to break Travis Wildeboar’s unsupported fastest known time (FKT) of six days, seventeen hours and twenty-five minutes and set a new Long Trail Speed Record. Bits and pieces of my memory from my 2015 attempt come back to me. Links to Strava, GPS not 100% accurate. That is the real FKT! My body takes over, almost on autopilot. That and all my gear in a 35-liter, frameless speed-hiking pack.”, He also decided he didn’t have to be a run just for himself. “If I had a full headlamp charge and power hiked the second half of the day, I would’ve probably finished sleep deprived and a wreck around 3:30 or 4 in the morning,” he said. My mind is clear and there is nothing to do but move forward. Then, I’ll be ready to hit the final miles hard. Joe McConaughy has a serious case of cankles. “In 2015, I got destroyed by it, so it’s been in the back of my mind since.”. Pack up my crap and hit the trail. The trail continues to climb, and I eagerly pursue it. Hope to see you on the trails or manning an aid station in the future! Food is harder to eat, particularly nuts. On Thursday, McConaughy beat the speed record for the Appalachian Trail by 10:41, finishing in 45 days 12 hours 15 minutes. I feel so lucky, so blessed, so privileged. BUt I’ve only covered 6 miles. To no ones surprise, they sucked on day two. Average 2.5 mph, finish at 7am, just under 5 days total, Average 2 mph, curl up into a ball and cry. His 2020 racing season still up in the air, so he has not ruled out doing another big trail run this year while racing is on hold. That’s weird… I open my eyes. Luckily, I saved those Fritos! This section of the Long Trail has very few rocks, and the downs aren’t that steep, allowing for very efficient running. If I don’t beat Basham’s record, so what? We took a photo with them. My name is Joe McConaughy, aka Stringbean. I’ll need 3.2 mph to beat Jonathan Basham and 2.7 to beat Jeff Garmire, so I’m optimistic. She is also joined by a handful of wonderful friends, Josh and Cooper Katzman, Evren and Tara Gundez, Jen Watt and Eli Burakian. My back is the lightest it has ever weighed. Every so often I check my watch. He averaged about 50 miles a day and completed the journey in an unsupported fashion. I don’t worry about if I fit in or why no one else looks at me. Am I going to be just short? I remember laughing at all the challenges that this day has presented. I try drinking, and aside from a small weird minty flavor from the leaf, the filter works just fine. I’d then have a mad dash to the finish using primarily my iPhone battery. All they have to do is last one more day…. Hero has been on trail since mid-May, which is a little concerning because I was under the impression that the Long Trail was actively discouraging hikers through May. Life isn’t too bad. I wanted this one. In the moment, not much. I don’t want to mess with Whiteface at night again. Not once have I felt anxious or unsafe due to the color my skin. On Tuesday, August 25 th at approximately 3 A.M., Joe “String Bean” McConaughy” will attempt to break Travis Wildeboar’s unsupported fastest known time (FKT) of six days, seventeen hours and twenty-five minutes and set a new Long Trail … I slip and slide a few times on steep rocks, thankful to not have any major falls. Jounrey’s End, Vermont – 8/24/15, 10 PM. I’m begin to feel like my old self again. My iPhone shuts off a second time. Sleep 2 hours from 9-11 and 2 hours from 2:30-4:30. A Goal: Beat the supported record set by Jonathan Basham of 4 days, 12 hours and 46 minutes. I yell again. Back on trail, the food doesn’t sit well at first. Unable to see the ground, I need some kind of light to guide me. The place that allows me to ignore the extreme discomfort and fatigue. Best to you and Katie on your new adventures in WA! I trek on for a few minutes until I find a flat spot to set up camp and pass out. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy is an ultramarathon runner for Columbia and a fastpacking/running coach. I summit Laraway Mountain and witness a BEAUTIFUL sunset. Excitedly, I put my shoe back on. My thoughts wander to little electronic gadget shooting a beam of light from my head. A cold front came in, and the low temps will probably drain my battery and night miles are slow going anyway. His feet slid around in his Columbia Trans Alps F.K.T. He did this with a 25-pound backpack. The hiking community is overwhelming white. With a rainstorm coming tomorrow, we debate how bad the weather is going to be. Woof, that’s a lot. The wetness is taking a toll on my feet, they ache and I sense a blister forming, but I can’t worry about that now. Could I possibly finish before nightfall tomorrow? The increased air pressure forces the unfiltered water through the 0.1 micron filter and out the other side, allowing you to drink clean water by simply squeezing the water bottle. 45 miles (39miles + 6 miles), ~Bear Hollow Shelter to Bamforth Ridge to ~Montclair Glen Shelther. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. I find an appropriate spot to camp with 16 miles to go. Cruise, hit 50-60 miles. If I can play my cards right, I might just finish in two and half more days. Leading up to Stratton Mountain, the last true mountain of trail, there is a long section of flat section. If I can get through today, I am golden (or less screwed) . The outdoor community, especially in trail running and hiking, is predominantly white. I channel my inner Forest Gump. Jounrey’s End, Vermont – 8/24/15, 10 PM. 273 miles and 65,000ft of elevation gain in less than 6 days. I have at least 65 miles to go. Holy crap. It is like night and day. At about 53 miles out, my energy starts to plummet. The rocks, roots and climbs are relentless. “I had nuts, Oreos, Fritos, salami sticks, banana chips, plantain chips, and granola. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy did it in a staggering 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. I’m now dropping 500 feet to cross Vt. Route 9. At the finish, McConaughy was greeted by his wife and a few friends, who treated him to Kombucha and other liquids he craved. Feeling refreshed, I run and I run and I run. I just ate 2,5000 calories. The joy is in the experience and if I can hit one or two of my goals with a smile on my face, I am a happy boy. The O-ring is attached to the base of the filter and creates a seal around the top of the water bottle. We commiserate over the rainstorm we endured the day before. But is the 3rd highest peak in Vermont at night a good idea? As the days went on, he developed a slight infection in his throat, which made swallowing much of his food difficult. My phone has about 75%. shoes, and the resulting friction led to bad blisters during what he called his toughest day. At this point, I try not to focus on the details and my slowed pace. The clock hits 6AM, then 6:10AM, then 6:20AM. You can chill out. He estimates the phone gave out around 1:30 a.m. on Monday. Pinching my nails together, I pierce the skin. Most hikers take 6 months or more to finish the trek. The FKT is a true classic. FINISH. At 2:30 AM, I find the next spot to turn off and set up camp. That feels gooooooood. 936 Likes, 90 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Long Trail FKT Announcement . Sixty eight miles to go, leave it all out there. Joe McConaughy and The AT. The water doesn’t rush into my mouth, rather, it is forced out of the threading where the Sawyer filter is screwed onto the bottle. Battery is at 10%. Wife Katie and Hunter Hall were also on-hand to add color and field questions from the 300-person live audience. My GoPro has 5% battery, so I hit record. The Long Trail weaves through a few roads before beginning a long, slow climb that culminates on Whiteface Mountain. It takes most people six months or more to complete the approximately 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The LED screen offers a dim light. The mad dash to the finish is capped off by the company and laughter of good friends. The battery drops to 15%. My throat only has minor stinging. There are still a lot of rocks, but I’m making great time. Searching for any excuse to stop, I take off my shoes. Sleep 4 hours from 11-3. Katie and I hike to the northern terminus, which is a slightly uphill 1.5 mile hike. This is particularly sad, because I love nuts. “As I’m going, I see 24 percent, 18 percent, 12 percent, and then 3 percent. According to my watch, I’m moving at around a 4 mph pace. Mansfield; steep rocks and thick rains didn’t stop me from rock hopping down a technical shoot. My body needs more firepower. How Joe McConaughy Crushed the Long Trail FKT By Nearly 24 Hours. At least I know I hit a ton of elevation today, and I have a TON of gas left in the tank. Since the morning, the rain has varied from a faint drizzle to a windy downpour. The banana chips are dense, and I need to suck down water to keep my mouth from feeling like a desert. I realize I’m going to have to camp right at this spot. I decide I’m going to risk it. Imagine a baby futilely trying to suck on a bottle filled with only air. Today is the day. The goals of day one and two were to cruise. I dump some in a garbage can. Horrid to White Rocks to ~Baker Peak. I’m exhausted. B Goal: Beat the unsupported record set by Jeff Garmire of 5 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes. Either way, I’m going to have sleep deprivation, and Heather’s recommendation is backed by the opinion of most multi-day adventure racers. The elevation feels like nothing. In any other circumstance, I’d laugh at that challenge. Watch now. Every time I take a bad step, I feel the fluid shooting into the outside edges of the blister. And somehow, Katie appeared in my dreams to make sure I didn’t sleep through the night. I recently crossed Bolton Mountain am now descending down the other side. My blisters hurt more with each step. I’m a little discouraged, because it’s well short of my 60 mile per day goal. “If it didn’t have at least 110 calories per ounce, it wasn’t worth taking,” McConaughy said. Katie is waiting for me, and I give her the biggest hug I can muster. My throat is now undeniably painful. My body is slow to move. An intense burning sensation stings the back of my throat whenever I try to eat them. And, yes, you looked “HORRIFIC” right at the finish and only “terrible” just a short while after ð. Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy has plenty to share. I need a thought partner that I can talk over such complicated subjects with in a safe space. I camp at the first flat spot, which happens to be a windy ridge. I try to channel my old cross country days. It takes most people six months or more to complete the approximately 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). I remember I felt more like a free-soloing rock climber than a hiker. It never really comes. The fire has been lit. I look through the overwhelming number of texts and messages from friends, family and strangers on my phone. Joe McConaughy has a serious case of cankles. We agree it would be best for me to sleep at 9PM and try to regain whatever energy I can. “Is there any water up ahead?” I ask. My goal for the day? Actually, I realize only one of my blisters hurts. At the finish, everyone wanted to get a look at the eight 13.5oz stones carrying the name of an individual who had died due to police/civilian brutality. With this in the back of my mind, I decide to leave about two handfuls of Fritos in case I get desperate tomorrow. I’m still lethargic. I have Fritos, trail mix, oreos, plantain chips, 2 snickers, a salami stick and lots of nuts. Two hours later, I come across my first water source. I am beyond words. Thoughts of pace and FKTs leave my mind, right now there is only me and the mountain. Suddenly, the light on my headlamp dims. What an engaging, inspiring read – similar to you as a human. I wake up ready to ROCK. Towards the end of the day, I realize I’ve way overpacked food. The thought seems tragic. Ugh. When McConaughy set out on June 10 on an attempt to break the self-supported speed record for Vermont’s Long Trail, he carried eight stones in his pack, each inscribed with the name of a Black victim of violence—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery among them. My body shivers uncontrollably, trying to heat up. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) considers every hiker that completes the Trail a "2,000-miler," whether they take the average 6 months to thru-hike or a lifetime of section hikes. The trail is taking a toll on my body. Idiot. The water situation isn’t helping either. Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. Joe McConaughy is the kind of person to whom things come easily. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Glucosamine Supplements May Help You Live Longer, Sara Hall: Second-Fastest American of All Time, This Nutrient May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease, How to Run Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns, Jenna Hutchins Breaks Katelyn Tuohyâs 5K Record, This Hot Cocoa Bomb Has a Baby Yoda Marshmallow, Why the Middle of a Run Always Feels the Toughest, Daily Exercise Is the Antidote for Sitting Disease. The Long Trail is a place for me to express myself. Do I have COVID? I reflect on the name written on each stone: I passionately write my reflections into my phone while hiking, with some back and forth with Katie. The trail continues to be technical and I’m excited to hit the flat section around Vt. Route 15. Oh crap is my first thought. However, with my decision to stop is reaffirmed when I try use my headlamp. I’m definitely not going to finish before dawn. How many people have experienced Camel’s Hump in such conditions without another soul for miles? My throat continues to be a problem. The trail transforms into its only rocky, technical self, the one I cursed for 170 miles. In fact, it only accentuates the significant pain in my feet from my blisters. My stomach grows queasy when I hit the post button on Instagram, worried about my social responsibility and how people might react. At 4 miles in, my pace looks closer to 4 mph. It’s over 7,000 words, so turn on some jazz music and grab a cup of coffee. I only slept an hour because I’m cold. Three days later, Katie and I started our cross country drive/move to Seattle. What an accomplishment! Using the LED light from his GoPro, he made his way off of it and camped until 4 a.m. With only eight and half miles to go when he woke, McConaughy took off like a he was back in college running a cross-country 10K for Boston College, trying to beat the clock to 6:29 a.m. I text back and forth with Katie. The original American Long Trail. I go through my options to finish. Looking at my phone again, it still have 1% remaining. I only brought one … Just before 9PM, I set up camp with about 180 miles to go. He’s wearing pajama pants and seems to be thoroughly enjoying his thru hike. I can tell I’m still dehydrated. Hopefully I will be fine, but eating some foods is becoming painful. On Wednesday, 6/10, I will attempt the unsupported FKT going South on…” And, hear what NOT to do! Maximize physical and mental rest and break up the night. McConaughy beat the supported FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail that year—it took him 53 days, 6 hours, and 37 minutes—but the attempt took its toll. Here we go. That must be a mistake, the actual charge must be closer to 50%. The blister has expanded to cover both the arch and the inside of my foot. All I can do is put my time and energy into worrying about what I control, covering as much ground as possible. Hell, I’m in Vermont, one of the whitest states in the US. My watch alarm is set to 4:10AM. I begin with a 2 mile, 1,000ft climb up Mt. What was left was cold, mushy, bland and terrible Fritos. I’m now less than 20 miles away. As I trudge up Stratton Mountain, my heart rate still spikes and my legs are weak. He insists that I take his number in case I need a resupply (I didn’t tell him I was attempting an FKT), and I carry on. Source Runner's World. His hope was to complete the Long Trail in under five days, which would be well under the previous FKT set by Jeff Garmire in 2019 with a time of 5 days, 23 hours, 48 minutes. I’m on familiar territory. Person-Person On June 15 Joe "Stringbean" McConnaughy took an entire DAY off the previous best Unsupported time on the oldest long trail in the US, Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail. My second climb of the night goes over Mt. After attempting to find or McGyver some kind of replacement O-ring with the gear in my bag, I give up. Boy, a hot shower sounds nice right now. YIKES! Not only am I running off 15 hours of sleep in the last four days, but I haven’t been eating. Going after the unsupported FKT, I cannot use any other resource other than what the trail provides. Joe conducts all of his long-distance FKTs “thru-hiker style” (self-supported or unsupported), meaning that he receives no assistance of any kind and hauls his own gear. His knees are puffy, swollen masses, walking is “a chore” and his appetite is unrelenting. I’m 16 miles away, going at an all out effort, and am trying to sleep? My real issue is nutrition. Immediately upon putting on my shoe, I realize I am mistaken. 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