You can follow along with his adventures on Instragram, Facebook and Strava. I was planning on doing the Long Trail, then all the happenings with COVID…” I enter the alpine zone and am blasted by winds. It takes most people six months or more to complete the approximately 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). In any other circumstance, I’d laugh at that challenge. Most thru-hikers who complete the whole trail do so in about a half year. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. The FKT is a true classic. Despite not being by my side, she is with me. The ultrarunner and PCT and AT record-holder … Source Runner's World. 54 miles (41 miles + 13 miles), Northern Terminus to Laraway Lookout to ~Bear Hollow Shelter. I try drinking, and aside from a small weird minty flavor from the leaf, the filter works just fine. My heart is overcome with joy that these people would be here for me. I start doing the math. Despite all these setbacks, I am cruising. 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. I stop looking at my phone and focus on running what I have left. In my final 48 hours, I faced sleep deprivation. And so, we nicely arranged the rocks before hiking the last 4 miles through Massachusetts back to our cars. It’s pitch dark. The next few hours are a whirlwind, I cover 15 miles in 3 hours. I examine the filter and notice a small plastic O-ring is suspiciously missing. As I ascended Mt Ellen, I began to notice the dry ground and lack of any recent water sources. New Long Trail Men’s FKT on the 273 mile Vermont Long Trail - 4 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes ⛰⚡️. My biggest problem will be managing battery life thru inevitable night hiking tomorrow. The constant movement buffers me against the whipping cold gusts of air. I don’t worry about if I fit in or why no one else looks at me. Most hikers take 6 months or more to finish the trek. I’m having a hard time deciding, but sleeping now and following my original strategy is the only thing that makes sense. How Joe McConaughy Crushed the Long Trail FKT By Nearly 24 Hours. New Long Trail FKT. The beauty of an FKT attempt is in the journey itself, not in the finish or the time. My system needs food. I only slept an hour because I’m cold. My nickname came during my speed record attempt on the Pactific Crest Trail in 2014. I try to channel my old cross country days. The trail continues to climb, and I eagerly pursue it. Horrid to White Rocks to ~Baker Peak. Despite being self-reliant on trail, (well, almost), I still needed Katie’s loving help and support to get to the start line. I run as much of it as I can. I see about 6-7 thru hikers on day 1, the majority of which have been on trail in a similar time frame. I give a leaf a suspicious glance, pick it off the tree, poke a whole in the middle and place it in between the filter and water bottle as I screw on the top. “As I’m going, I see 24 percent, 18 percent, 12 percent, and then 3 percent. I camp at the first flat spot, which happens to be a windy ridge. I retreat into the pain cave of my mind. Inspiring, motivating, touching, scary, freeing… Sick! 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. I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey. I have known of you, watched and read your craziness, and had the chance to talk to you once…you are one of those good humans this world has. His knees are puffy, swollen masses, walking is “a chore” and his appetite is unrelenting. I hit trail at 5:15 AM. The Long Trail is a place for me to express myself. 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 … If I don’t go sub-5, put my name up there with the likes of Romeo and Gatsby. I’m not longer having issues running. For his attempt on the AT, he went self-supported, meaning he mailed gear to pick up along the way over 45 days. 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. I bumped into two European hikers after Mt. I have 8.5 miles to go. I have Fritos, trail mix, oreos, plantain chips, 2 snickers, a salami stick and lots of nuts. But Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy had a good reason. All the sudden, it happens. I’m now dropping 500 feet to cross Vt. Route 9. Earlier this month, Joe McConaughy stepped off the trail in Maine after demolishing the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the 2,200-ish mile Appalachian Trail. We took a photo with them. Rocks, roots, mud and a whole lot of adventure! To no ones surprise, they sucked on day two. Horrid turns out to be pretty pleasant, aside from a cold breeze whipping through the trees. Recorded half of my runs due to low watch battery. Lightbulb! I look at my watch and notice the battery is at 5%. Plus, I’m not sure if my headlamp and flashlight will last two more overnights. The trail transforms into its only rocky, technical self, the one I cursed for 170 miles. “Well, if you want some of my water, we are about to get off trail. String Bean put his sights on the unsupported Long Trail Speed Record. Finally, I hit Stratton Pond and the 1,700ft climb begins. I am dehydrated, sleep deprived and a little bit desperate, so it is no surprise that I accept their kind gesture. Immediately upon putting on my shoe, I realize I am mistaken. In 2014, after setting out on the Pacific Crest Trail for the first time, he broke the supported speed record. With only 40 miles to go, I’m not longer worried about a foot infection from a popped blister. Unfortunately, I make two more mistakes with water. My pack isn’t that bad! His feet slid around in his Columbia Trans Alps F.K.T. My feet follow instinctively. She is also joined by a handful of wonderful friends, Josh and Cooper Katzman, Evren and Tara Gundez, Jen Watt and Eli Burakian. I am beyond words. Did You Know That Santa Claus Is a Marathoner? It takes most people six months or more to complete the approximately 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The light allows me to baby-step forward. Sep 6, 2017 When ultrarunner and speed hiker Joe McConaughy, trail name Stringbean, set out on the 2,186-mile Appalachian Trail in mid-July, his goal was to break the trail… That should be enough to get me through 2-3 more nights. That’s nice. The rocks, roots and climbs are relentless. I’m now fully exposed on top of 4,000ft mountain and it is 1AM. Finally, I can run without foot pain. Oh well, I’m in the zone. Every rock and root is now a liability due to wetness. 6/23/2020 4:00:00 PM. 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. The iPhone is considerably less powerful, but I’m going up a steep climb so I don’t need to move fast. 629 Likes, 33 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Day 4 Long Trail FKT. So much. I decide I’m going to risk it. Thank you, Katie! After two and a half hours, I am well passed Camel’s Hump. There is an inch long, circular gash caused by pack rubbing. This is one of 4 blog articles on the Long Trail in addition posts on Instagram and Strava that I’m currently writing. 6/23/2020 4:00:00 PM. A Goal: Beat the supported record set by Jonathan Basham of 4 days, 12 hours and 46 minutes. Going after the unsupported FKT, I cannot use any other resource other than what the trail provides. The hiking community is overwhelming white. The trail has turned wet, which is when the Long Trail gets real nasty. He did this with a 25-pound backpack. This time, I hear a response. If I do anything to elevate my heart rate, the energy gets zapped out of me. There are three types of FKT styles, supported, self-supported and unsupported. 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. Dawn is at 4:30AM, leaving me with 2 hours of sunlight before the 6:29AM five day cutoff. I’m definitely not going to finish before dawn. This becomes particularly problematic when I am going uphill. I don’t want to eat anything even though I know it will help. Average 2.5 mph, finish at 7am, just under 5 days total, Average 2 mph, curl up into a ball and cry. But is the 3rd highest peak in Vermont at night a good idea? I’m so tired of jumping from rock to rock on technical downhill sections. Although for longer efforts he would resupply via mail drops, for the Long Trail he carried all his food from the start—40,000 calories worth. I begin with a 2 mile, 1,000ft climb up Mt. Woof, the blisters look real bad now. 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. He estimates the phone gave out around 1:30 a.m. on Monday. The fire has been lit. The smartest move would seem to be sleep. I awake in a daze. I realize I’m going to have to camp right at this spot. “In 2015, I got destroyed by it, so it’s been in the back of my mind since.”. I chuckle to myself as I bound through the dark Vermont Forest. I bump into a hiker named Kaleidoscope near Cowles’ Cover Shelter. McConaughy’s pack weighed 27 pounds when he started at 6:30 a.m on June 10. He averaged about 50 miles a day and completed the journey in an unsupported fashion. Ew. Oh crap is my first thought. And, hear what NOT to do! Expecting a full energy recovery, I wait for the breakthrough. An intense burning sensation stings the back of my throat whenever I try to eat them. Watch now. My throat hasn’t helped either. I still have 170 miles to go, and the next 70 are supposed to be the nastiest. Since leaving the northern section, the trail feels like buffed out West Coast Trail. I squeeze the Dasani bottle and put it to my lips. The Long Trail is 273 miles long, with 65,000 feet of elevation gain. I don’t care if I’m breathing heavily. I am beyond words. I set up my shelter with a lot of vigor and crash around 9PM. I was planning on doing the Long Trail… My energy levels are much too low. It is like night and day. Joe McConaughy has a serious case of cankles. Ten hours into day two and I’ve done 24 miles, a 2.4 mph pace. I’m begin to feel like my old self again. At about two miles in, it looks like I am averaging 5 mph. Despite everything going on, I’M DOING IT. Maximize physical and mental rest and break up the night. The outdoor community, especially in trail running and hiking, is predominantly white. Up until this point, a 13.5oz bag of rocks has stayed stashed away at the bottom of my bag. The left foot is now 3x more sore than it was before. I think I’m a 28 year old living in a 50 year olds body. Cruise, hit 50-60 miles. Halfway up, I decide I’m terribly sleep deprived. Well, this isn’t good. I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a long day. I estimate I have about 100 feet of plank walkways ahead and behind me. The first 4.5 miles has about 1,000ft of elevation gain. I’m 28 years old, going on a reckless adventure on the oldest Long Path in the United States. At the beginning, I was obsessed with timing, pace and progress. To make them go down easier, I pour some filtered water into the bag. This fuels me to run up the last significant uphill. On August 10, 2014, 23-year-old Joe "String Bean" McConaughy—a recent college grad who grew up in Seattle—took his last steps on the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail, crossing into Canada’s Manning Park exactly 53 days, 6 hours, and 37 minutes after setting off from the Mexican border. The miles continue to tick off, the hours continue to move ahead. At 2:15AM, well before the peak, I find a decent enough spot to pitch my bivvy and nearby water next to the Bear Hollow Shelter. I immediately curl up in my sleeping quilt. She has been pulling 20 mile days herself and is over halfway done with her northbound hike. 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. I find a stagnant ‘stream’ to wash my aching body and overstressed skin. I’m now less than 20 miles away. I am more familiar with and inclined towards option one, but she adamantly defended ‘dirt naps’ (30-45 minute power naps). My goal for the day? He carried eight stones with him, each with the name of a victim of police brutality to fundraise for Outdoor Afro. 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. My second thought it to turn off my headlamp and navigate by iPhone battery light. 629 Likes, 33 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Day 4 Long Trail FKT. At 4 miles in, my pace looks closer to 4 mph. When I did the Appalachian Trail, I thought Vermont was one of the more challenging sections. My watch alarm is set to 4:10AM. This is particularly sad, because I love nuts. McConaughy crushed the mileage he needed by the time he settled down to rest, which he did daily from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Trouble struck on day two, though, as heavy rain wrecked the trail from 3 a.m. until noon, making an already technical terrain even more challenging. I am beyond words. Despite my weak light source, I become wreckless. We commiserate over the rainstorm we endured the day before. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy is an ultramarathon runner for Columbia and a fastpacking/running coach. With only 41 miles to go, I’d covered the last 27 miles in 8.5 hours. Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the U.S-Mexico border on the 2,660-mile trail … With all these thoughts on my mind, what can I do for myself, but also what can I do to make our outdoor spaces accessible for all? Oh god, no. This is my one shot. Back in my familiar state of being, hiking, my body comes around to the idea of moving. Links to Strava, GPS not 100% accurate. The raw skin on my shoulders and lower back stings as it comes back into contact with the backpack. The sun begins to fall in the sky, and I begin to ponder my sleep strategy. Every so often I check my watch. I’m three hours into my night hike/run. The majority of the mud has dried, there are few rocks and roots on the trail and the gains aren’t as extreme. The banana chips are dense, and I need to suck down water to keep my mouth from feeling like a desert. Excitedly, I put my shoe back on. I slip and slide a few times on steep rocks, thankful to not have any major falls. I connect the dots that iPhone probably has a battery-saving feature to shut off the flashlight if battery is low. At this point, I try not to focus on the details and my slowed pace. My name is Joe McConaughy, aka Stringbean. My water bottle + filter + leaf system is somewhat successful. I’m 16 miles away, going at an all out effort, and am trying to sleep? And somehow, Katie appeared in my dreams to make sure I didn’t sleep through the night. Day falls as I start my climb up White Rocks Mountain. I also indulge in some power chia balls purchased from the Food Co-op. I need to recharge my flashlight, but if I can get a full charge I probably have 6 hours of light left. With only 2% battery on my COROS watch, my last remaining electronically charged item, I set my alarm for 4AM. Hopefully, the flat will allow me to cover good miles, but I’m not there yet. “Meltzer’s record is 45 days, 22 hours, and I am assuming a few things will go pretty wrong, so I think 43 days would be very, very bold,” he says. I give the bottle a squeeze, and to my utter delight, water doesn’t escape out the threading. For the first time in this entire adventure, this felt like a true race; physical capabilities put to the test against a clock. Descending off the windy peak, the trail is still very technical and a little wet. I start the day strong. 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. 936 Likes, 90 Comments - Joe McConaughy (@thestring.bean) on Instagram: “Long Trail FKT Announcement . My thoughts wander to little electronic gadget shooting a beam of light from my head. I don’t feel like much of anything except sleeping. I wanted this one. After 42 miles that day, I cuddle up just past Middlebury Gap. I know I’m going to hit Camel’s Hump at night. I realize I haven’t had this much calories at one time in days. I linger for 10 minutes before putting on my socks under my quilt. I carry onward. B Goal: Beat the unsupported record set by Jeff Garmire of 5 days, 23 hours and 46 minutes. Wife Katie and Hunter Hall were also on-hand to add color and field questions from the 300-person live audience. “The grossest one I did was an Oreo-almond slushy,” he said. Plus, the pitter patter of rain starts to fall as I wolf down my last few bites of food and close my eyes. And he’s using the FKT as a positive force for the greater hiking community. Pack up my crap and hit the trail. I’m desperately cold. Congratulations on reading my Long Trail FKT recap. I wrestle on my shoes, careful not to pop my blisters, pack up my gear and leave. I have to hike 400 feet off trail to a very nice mountain stream and guzzled down an entire bottle after I applied a new leaf. Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy did it in a staggering 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. “I wanted to go under five days, so I started sprinting through the night, trying to figure out how to best position the phone’s flashlight to see rocks and roots,” he said. Particularly for my wife Katie. I must have turned it on accidentally as I awoke. The thought seems tragic. Am I going to be just short? I breeze through the first 9 miles in at Jay Peak. However, with my decision to stop is reaffirmed when I try use my headlamp. My legs lose all strength and I struggle to stand. The LED screen offers a dim light. After attempting to find or McGyver some kind of replacement O-ring with the gear in my bag, I give up. Mt Ellen to Mt Abraham is particularly dry stretch of trail. Either way, it was absolutely out of this world. My blisters hurt more with each step. Since the morning, the rain has varied from a faint drizzle to a windy downpour. I’ve been hiking the whole day lifting and sucking on my water bottle to try to get whatever water I can. The place that allows me to ignore the extreme discomfort and fatigue. 11:20PM. The wind is howling and temperatures are in the mid-forties, I estimate. Ethan Allen. You can chill out. Joe McConaughy and The AT. 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. shoes, and the resulting friction led to bad blisters during what he called his toughest day. I feel so lucky, so blessed, so privileged. I cross my fingers that it will have a full charge after my nap. My headlamp goes into low power mode. We laugh about how ridiculous, yet enjoyable, this whole experience is. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at, 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 Tuohy’s 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. Gloves are off. In this moment, I don’t realize the implications of my actions. Dreaming Bigger Than Big: Joe McConaughy’s Pacific Crest Trail Supported FKT Eric Senseman on September 3, 2014 / 5 comments “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common … Hope to see you on the trails or manning an aid station in the future! I’m exhausted. Then, I think back to a few hours ago when I was bombing down Mt. Many sections of now feature mud. My feet now have two large blisters on each arch, my throat hurts more and my shoulders and back are sore from the pack. I had a hard time stomaching them, all the yummy fat and salty flavors were suddenly gone. This time, I thought it was only necessary to carry one. I look at my battery, somehow the went from two of three bars to one flashing bar in two hours. It totally capped off the run in a great way.”. Here we go. I’m still lethargic. My throat is now undeniably painful. Towards the end of the day, I realize I’ve way overpacked food. My next problem quickly arises. Taking water from a fellow hiker is against the rules and demotes my record attempt to a self-supported FKT. I look through the overwhelming number of texts and messages from friends, family and strangers on my phone. His goal: 43 days. Either way, I’m going to have sleep deprivation, and Heather’s recommendation is backed by the opinion of most multi-day adventure racers. 273 miles and 65,000ft of elevation gain in less than 6 days. The fluid is separating layers of skin to create more blister. The light is coming from my headlamp. My pace differential is shocking. The trail is humbling, inspiring, and grueling. Worth. The elevation feels like nothing. The pink dusk is now a deep black. The trail is fairly runnable, and nothing is going to stop me from missing the 5 day cut off. I recently tested negative and the symptoms didn’t quite line up. I try to feel confident about my decision, however I get the feeling like it was a giant waste of time. 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. Every time I take a bad step, I feel the fluid shooting into the outside edges of the blister. I trek on for a few minutes until I find a flat spot to set up camp and pass out. Definitely listen to Joe's insider tips - we go into valuable details on his shelter system, food planning (9,000cal/day), and why AT thru-hikers call the state, "Vermud". I was out of water again. I feel my lower back. They are the change we need to see in the world and on the trails.”. Not once have I felt anxious or unsafe due to the color my skin. Joe 'Stringbean' McConaughy set a new record on the Appalachian Trail today, beating both unsupported and supported times. Finish or die. Designed without switchbacks, the Long Trail is known for relentless ups and downs, rocks, roots, and mud. I realize just how sleep deprived I feel. To alleviate the pain, I tighten my backpack straps. I wake up ready to ROCK. As the wind howls, I meander up the trail. Using my entire bag of Oreos (~1,500 calories), a half bag of almonds (~1,000 calories) and filtered water, I make a smoothie. 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