Ultimate Direction and Carmichael Training Systems Form Exclusive Partnership

Ultimate Direction’s new Signature Series 4.0 trail running vests and Adventure Collection Fastpacks will be used exclusively by Carmichael Training Systems’ (CTS) coaches during the organization’s ultrarunning training camps and “Bucket List” events this year.

Kelly Wolf (center) with CTS Executive Director Jason Koop (left) on the podium at UTMB's CCC.

Kelly Wolf with CTS Director of Coaching Jason Koop (left) on the podium at UTMB’s CCC.

CTS is one of the premier endurance sports coaching companies in the world and this partnership deepens the connection between both brands, as several UD-sponsored athletes, including 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon winner Kelly Wolf, Skyrunning champion Hillary Allen, and Adidas professional Abby Mitchell are coached by CTS.

I am extremely picky about running gear. Ultimate Direction vests meet my every need as a mountain runner so I’m really excited to share UD at our training camps and through testimonials we’ll give to our international community.

–Jason Koop, CTS Director of Coaching and author of Training Essentials for Ultrarunning.

CTS training camps gives attendees the opportunity to eat, sleep, and train like a full-time athlete under the guidance of a professional coaching staff. Ultimate Direction will team up with CTS at camps in Lake Tahoe, Colorado Springs, Pisgah National Forest, Mont Blanc and more.

Kelly Wolf, 2018 Tarawera Ultra winner is a CTS-coached athlete

Kelly Wolf, 2018 Tarawera Ultra winner, is a CTS-coached athlete

Father and Son Summits: How to Have a Big Adventure with Your Kids

Do you share your passion for adventure with your children? Longtime Ultimate Direction Ambassador Thomas Reiss is recently back from summiting Mount Kilimanjaro with his 12-year-old son, Luke. In this interview we ask both father and son how to prepare for and execute a big adventure together. What does training consist of? What are some tips for getting along together through adversity? Read it all here.

Leave a comment if you have additional advice for parents and their kids.

You recently summited  Mount Kilimanjaro; what was the genesis of this project? 

Thomas: I got into mountains (besides running ultras) with backcountry hiking a few years ago to have another thing to share with my kids (Dylan, 14 and Luke, 12). After several multi-day backcountry trips in California we got more into bigger mountains. Luke is fascinated with the 7 summits, so we thought it would be fun to do one of them and see what we think.

Luke: I always loved running on trails/track and running in general and anything to do with the outdoors and when my dad introduced backpacking to me a few years ago I loved it. I always wanted to accomplish more and so I started to broaden my horizon and in 2017 we went to Mount Everest Base Camp. I loved the diversity of a new country and decided I wanted more and so we decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as my first of the 7 summits.

Thomas Reiss

Thomas (left) and son Luke (12 years old) bivouac

What was involved in the preparation; what was the most challenging detail our audience could learn from? 

Thomas: We kept up our usual running training. Luke runs about 15-20 miles per week during the season and runs track and cross country at his middle school. The most challenging aspect was coordinating it with our family Christmas plans and school; we already had all the needed immunizations from our Everest Base Camp trip in Nepal earlier in the year.

Luke: For me the most challenging part was to coordinate the trip with my school, I missed one week of school and had a lot of work that I had to make up before and after the trip.  

what was it like bringINg someone that young along on a high altitude objective?

Thomas: It was amazing to accomplish this together. He has done many things like this before (like Mount Baker, Everest Base Camp, multi-day backpacking trips in the Sierras) but you never know with high altitude. This was the highest either one of us has been but his oxygen levels where great even better than mine almost every day. We never had less than 88/89% even at base camp at 15,300 feet the night of the summit climb. Adults tend to overthink things; kids don’t really do that. 

Luke: This is the highest I have ever been but I am very active and run a lot so I felt I was well prepared fitness wise but with elevation you can never know how you will react.  

Thomas Reiss

Were people skeptical that he would be able to accomplish it with you?  

Thomas: I don’t think so. Our friends and family have learned by now that if he wants to do it he will. I got a little nervous during the summit attempt since we had way more snow than usual and it was a complete white out with 30 mile winds and temps down in the low teens. But he never doubted us making it to the summit. 

Luke: Nobody was skeptical of me making it. Afterwards on the way down our guide told us that our porters were very skeptical of me making it but they were very happy when they found out I did make it. 

How is it for you, a dad, to be adventuring with someone less strong or experienced than you in high mountains? Is it frustrating at times? 

Thomas: Very seldom is it frustrating. As far as experience level we are roughly the same, of course I am stronger physically, but sometimes I think his naivety helps mentally. On this trip I had plenty of times where I was thinking the weather (rain/hail/snow) sucks and he would be just, “whatever, no big deal, it’s raining.” 

Luke: Kids are stronger than people think. I believe that just because someone is older and maybe physically more fit than you that doesn’t mean they want it more, and that is what matters most. 

Thomas Reiss


Thomas: I learned from both of my kids that they are more able to do things than we give them credit. As long as it is safe–and they have the desire to do it–the sky is the limit. 

Luke: As a kid climbing these mountains, I believe that it has most to do with you wanting it. A lot of parents push kids too far to do things that they do not want to accomplish. 


Thomas: Mount Elbrus. We just started planning our trip for this summer. The cool thing about my son Luke is that he really enjoys the cultural aspect of meeting locals and immersing himself in the local culture. He always makes friends with the guides and porters and stays in touch with some afterwards.


Editor’s note:

Here is a list of Thomas and Luke’s impressive mountain resume.

  • Multi-day trip on the Tahoe Rim Trail (age 9) 
  • Multi-day trip in Yosemite with summit before sunrise of Half Dome (age 10) 
  • Multi-day trip in Yosemite with summit of Half Dome (age 11) 
  • Multi-day trip on the Tahoe Rim Trail (age 11) 
  • Multi-day trip in the Sierra Nevada High Country with 12k/13k passes
  • Mt. Whitney (14,508) summit (age 11)
  • 3 week Nepal trek with 2 nights at Mt. Everest Base camp at 17,500 feet; highest point on the trek was about 18k (age 12)
  • Multi day trip at Mt. Baker (10,781 feet) in Washington with a 10 hour summit climb, 10 hours in Crampons, rope and ice axe over the Easton Glacier. (age 12) 
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, (19,341 feet) (age 12)

Mountain Running Icon Anna Frost Joins Ultimate Direction Team

We are VERY excited to announce that mountain running icon Anna Frost has joined the Ultimate Direction ambassador team. She needs little introduction, but just in case: Anna is one of the world’s most accomplished mountain and ultra trail runners who has, in the past few years, transitioned into a yoga and meditation practice to complement her passion for exploring and racing in the mountains.


She carved a place with prior sponsors as a contributor to product design and development and she will offer the same to us. Anna will be using a variety of our vests and packs, including the new Signature Series 4.0 Vestas and Fastpacks.

“My greatest joy has been to make a life in the big mountains of the world. Sharing this passion with people, especially women and young girls, while developing other healthful practices has become my calling.”

For more information on Anna’s global retreats, racing plans and product insights, please visit www.trailrunadventures.com.


OCR Champion Amelia Boone Joins Ultimate Direction

Did you see the January/February 2018 cover of Outside magazine? If so, you’ll recognize our newest ambassador; it’s Spartan Race World Champion and World’s Toughest Mudder winner Amelia Boone!

Amelia Boone

Amelia is known for a commanding string of wins and podium finishes in obstacle course races (OCR) and ultramarathons and she joins our team with a full 2018 racing calendar ahead of her and a few to-be-named adventures. She has proven her mettle on fast, flat courses but where Boone shines the most is in races where suffering over long distances is paramount. “I always tell people, ‘the more gnarly and hard the race is, the better suited I am to succeed.'”

After a couple seasons set back by injury, Amelia is fully recovered and healthy and ready to shine in races where suffering over long distances is paramount.

“I always tell people, ‘the more gnarly and hard the race is, the better suited I am to succeed.'”

Amelia Boone

Amelia will bring incredible knowledge to our designs as we launch new products specifically for obstacle course racing–an OCR vest and an OCR belt–in Fall 2018.

For more on Amelia Boone’s racing, training and product insights visit ameliabooneracing.com.


Watch: Fastest Known Time of the Year Q&A

Buzz Burrell and Peter Bakwin sit down to discuss some key themes that emerged in the 2017 Fastest Known Time voting process. Learn about some issues that affected voters’ decision-making along with some personal anecdotes from these two FKT legends.

Click over to Buzz’s FKT of the Year Announcement to see which man and woman came away with the title.

1. What is the FKT of the Year Award?

2. Where in the country are some FKT hidden gems?

3. Which 2017 FKT of the Year nominations do you think will remain unbeaten for the longest time?

4. Is there a single theme you can pick out from this year’s nominations?

5. Which nominated route would be most challenging for each of you personally?

6. What is the most contentious theme since the FKT nominees were announced?

7. What does FKT of the Year represent to you?

Fastest Known Time of the Year Awards!

What were the most inspiring, difficult, fast, or just plain ‘out-there’ FKT’s last year?  A panel of 27 runners reviewed the 22 Nominees (selected from the hundreds of FKT’s reported last year), voted for their top 5, and the Results are below.  A hot discussion this year was the widening gap between Unsupported and Supported efforts – some people did their whole route solo, while others utilized ‘race-level’ support for the first time – they had pacers the whole way, while carrying only minimal food or water themselves.  And as always, there were blazing fast runs on very popular routes, along with some insane efforts in the backcountry lasting over a month.  How does one decide which to vote for?  Which style of FKT won?  Read on!


Coastal Trail#4 (tie) 
California Coastal Trail OKT, (Self-Supported) California
Natalie Larson;  44d,18h,40m;  8/20-10/4
The CCT combines wilderness, beach, and urban running/hiking for 1,200 miles along the coast of CA.  An OKT (Only Known Time), Larson’s Self-Supported trip was an adventure in every sense, and was documented by satellite tracking and an evocative, complete report.
The voters said:
“It’s not the time she set as the audacity of the project: A young woman running alone though urban, suburban and wilderness. Her trip report reminds me of why I started doing FKT’s.”
“Love the pioneering spirit and solo pursuit – the best kind of FKTs.”

#4 (tie)  
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim (N-S), Arizona
Alicia Vargo;  3h,19m,23s;  11/8
While the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) has been a major target for decades, the R2R has seen relatively little interest.  The previous women’s best (set S-N) was done as part of the R2R2R.  Vargo gave the R2R a serious shot on its own, which may inspire more women to go after this logical route.
The voters said:
“The Grand Canyon attracts strong performances. Alicia’s time is solid.”


AshleyNOzark Highlands Trail, (Supported), Arkansas
Ashley Nordell;  2d,10h,46m; 10/27-29
Nordell has the fastest time Overall (Women & Men).  The previous best was also by a woman, Jenny Foster, 2d14h25m (2009).
The voters said:
“Faster than any men!”
“Solid effort and overall FKT!  What’s not to love?”

Grand Canyon R2R2R, (Supported) Arizona
Cat Bradley;  7h,52m,20s;  11/15
The R2R2R is one of the most classic routes in the world.  Bradley made it a major goal, and turned in an excellent result, besting besting Bethany Lewis’ 2011 FKT by more than 23 minutes.
The voters said:
“Badass time on a highly contested, ultra-classic route.”
“R2R2R is becoming as supported as a race, especially the way Cat did it.  But still it is a fast time and it’s impressive.”
“Elite run by an elite ultrarunner with elite crew and pacers – like a ‘Pro-FKT’ – but awesome”
“I loved her comment that WS100 (which she won) didn’t matter, only the Canyon mattered. I think comments about support and pacing are irrelevant for this route.”

Cat B

John Muir Trail, (Supported), California
Darcy Piceu;  3d,7h,57m ; 9/15-17
Piceu smashed the 10-year-old FKT of Sue Johnston by a whopping 12 hours.  There was some controversy because of a small and unintentional route finding error:  Piceu (and pacer Betsy Nye) took the Mist Trail part of the way down into Yosemite Valley, very near the end.
The voters said:
“I Would’ve ranked her higher, but IMO knowing the official Trail and successfully staying on route are part of what differentiates FKTs from marked courses!”
“She just blew away the competition. Yes a route-finding error, but since she didn’t gain any time, I excuse this digression.”
“She broke a long-standing record, and even threatened the men’s record. It was a huge leap in what’s possible for women.”



Bryan Williams#5 (tie)  
Colorado Trail, (Supported) Colorado   
Bryan Williams; 8d,0h,30m; 8/26-9/3
Williams took the Collegiate West option, which is a little longer (83 vs. 78 miles), with more vertical gain and a generally higher altitude, than the Collegiate East route taken by other FKT trips.  Nevertheless, he beat Scott Jamie’s 2013 time by over 7 hours.
The voters said:
“Bryan had his sights set on the CT for sometime. Like Cat, he did is recon, his homework, then sheer drive got it done.”
“I recall Scott Jaime talking about that pain and suffering that will be required to beat his time.”

#5 (tie)  
Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire
Ben Thompson; 4h29m55s; 7/6
This popular and logical route traverses the Presidential Range in NH.  Since 2009 the FKT has been traded back and forth several times between Ben Nephew, Ryan Welts and Jan Wellford, often beating each other’s times by just a few minutes.  Ben Thompson took nearly 5 minutes off of Nephew’s 2013 time.
The voters said:
“This is classic FKT stuff: a strong local community of talented guys and gals constantly challenging each other to take it up a notch!”

#5 (tie) 
Colorado’s Highest 100 Peaks, (Self-supported/Self-powered), Colorado
Justin Simoni; 60d,14h,59m,42s (OKT); 7/18-9/16
Following on 2014’s self-supported / self-powered tour (and FKT at the time) of Colorado’s 58 14ers, Simoni upped the ante to include the highest 100 peaks in the state; he biked to then climbed every official summit over about 13,800’.  The high 13ers are more obscure and some are technically more challenging than the 14ers. Simoni biked 1,720 and hiked 624 miles, and gained enough vert to get into outer space – 247,810′ by foot and 136,374′ by bike.
The voters said:
“Innovative, badass, logistically over-the-top challenging… just WOW.”

Simoni copy

#5 (tie)
Matthias copyLA Freeway, Colorado
Matthias Messner; 16h,59m; 8/6
The LA Freeway links Longs Peak with South Arapaho Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The route follows the crest and summits all the peaks, traversing roughly 34 miles, mostly above 12,000’ elevation, and requires numerous sections of 4th and 5th Class climbing.  While this was envisioned by Carl Pfiffner in the 1950s, it wasn’t completed in a seamless push until 2002, when Buzz Burrell did it in 2 days with a bivouac.  Messner was only the second person to complete the LAF, and he set an entirely new standard by doing the route in only 16h59m.
The voters said:
“My intimate knowledge of this route makes me one of the few that will understand how amazing this time is. I could see this time standing for a decade and we shouldn’t wait that long to acknowledge it.”
“An amazing time on an almost mystical route!  Absolutely world class.”
“This is an extremely niche route that I hope will gain greater prominence (it’s SO GOOD!), but will always be limited by its technical nature and locals-knowledge needed to really kill it. Which is fine. That’s what FKT’s are all about, really.”

Holy Nolan’s OKT, (Supported), Colorado
Andrew Hamilton;  71h,32m;  6/29-7/2
Hamilton is the undisputed King of the Colorado 14ers, holding the FKT for CO 14ers (all 58 peaks).  This was his 3rd Nolan’s finish, and he holds the FKT for doing the Nolan’s route Unsupported.  Here he added Holy Cross, to link up all fifteen 14ers in the Sawatch Range in one push that added about 25 miles of on & off-trail travel to Nolan’s.  Besides being the first to finish “Holy Nolan’s”, he set the Nolan’s FKT in the process (which was later superseded by Iker Karrera.)
The voters said:
“Cleans up the entire range in one go. Mind-blowing endurance.”
“I always wondered why the Nolan’s folks left the Holy Cross straggler… this guy finally did it!”


Iker-Karrera-Grand-Raid-2Nolan’s 14 (Supported), Colorado   
Iker Karrera;  47h,40m;  8/1-3
A Colorado classic that has attracted international attention, this is a very sturdy route: 14 summits over 14,000’, about 100 miles, 44,000’ of vert, and half off-trail.  Iker bested Andrew Hamilton’s time from June (see above) by 6h2m, which included significant time spent being lost.
The voters said:
“It’s all about route finding and game-time decisions when shit hits the fan (which it will when there is no trail).”
“This is number one for me because it’s a super demanding, physically and mentally, requiring a sense of adventure and braving the elements, and it’s very prestigious.”
“Iker didn’t bring the massive Euro support machine, but rather slotted himself into the local culture and ethic. He’s humble, and he’s really good.”

John Muir Trail (Supported), California  
Francois D’Haene;  2d,19h,26m;  10/14-17
The 2017 UTMB winner smashed the previous supported FKT by over 12 hours, running the route northbound, and was the first person to complete the route under 3 days. His approach was unusual in that by choosing to run in mid-October he gave up daylight in exchange for cooler temperatures and easier access to hiking permits for the area. He also had pacers the entire way, probably a first.
The voters said:
“I didn’t vote for Francois D’Haene’s JMT, because it seemed “too supported”, maybe beyond the spirit of FKTs for a true wilderness route.”
“Huge advancement here; will pacers the entire way be the new norm on the JMT?”
“Francois crushed it with a brilliant combination of athletic ability, unmatched support, and a unique approach of doing the route in October.”


Appalachian Trail, (Self-Supported), East Coast
Joe McConaughy;  45d,12h,15m;  7/17-8/31
The AT has a long history of very strong efforts, with the men including David Horton ’91, Pete Palmer ’99, Andrew Thompson ’05, Scott Jurek ’15, and Karl Meltzer ’16, all Supported. “Stringbean” bettered them all while going Self-Supported, being 10 hours faster than “Speedgoat” from the previous year.
The voters said:
“World-class ultra-runners with support, and he beat them self-supported.”
“No one to feed him, no one to massage him, no one to pop his blisters, no one to do his laundry, no one to shop for his food – #1 no brainer.”
“Joe McConaughy pulled off an FKT on the AT without any of the normal hoopla that seems to accompany modern ‘ultra-runner’ attempts.”
“Everyone who finishes this thing in an FKT-style effort is necessarily a hollow shell by the end. To keep taking care of oneself with no help throughout that entire process should not be underestimated. The clear winner.”



Democracy works!  None of the 23 Voters came close to picking all 10 winners (a famous now-former FKT holder came closest :-).  Utilizing a diverse group of voters is a brilliant way to decide – all personal favorites and biases are erased through democracy, and the result reflects the whole community.  The Tie for #4 Female is a great example:  Natalie spent 44 days solo hiking/running the entire coast of California in a true personal adventure, while Alicia (with two friends minutes behind her) smoked the Rim-Rim in the Grand Canyon in a little over 3 hours – and these two received the exact same number of voting points (30)!

For the first time, two non-American citizens nabbed the #3 and #2 spots for Men (the Ultra Runner of the Year Award is only for NA residents, while the FKTOY is open to anyone; the route itself has to be in NA).  Our experienced European correspondent had an interesting perspective:

“Here in Europe, most of the FKT attempts on iconic routes such as the GR20 in Corsica or the Pyrenean Traverse are big operations. Kilian, François, Julien … they all pushed limits using multiple pacers, aid station crews, change of equipment. Which makes me wonder, will a European will come after the AT FKT in the years to come?  Sub 40 days supported by brands like Salomon w/ pro film crew?  Is it a good or bad evolution?”

So which is better:  Supported or Unsupported?  Long and hard, or short and fast?

The community has spoken:  Those distinctions do not matter!  What’s cool is cool; we are inspired by verve, vision, and commitment no matter the distance, and badass is badass, no matter how you do it.

Your Comments are welcome below!  And 2018 is here – what do YOU have planned?

Fastest Known Time Of the Year Award

It’s back! An Award for the most notable FKT of the Year.  There’s no big prize – actually no prize whatsoever – but that’s not why we do FKT’s is it?  We want to do and read about what’s cool, what’s exciting and new, what has meaning for us.  So Peter Bakwin with help from Buzz Burrell compiles a list of the big standouts for 2017, then a panel votes for their favs.  There is one Award for Women and one for Men.
nolans sunrise
What do YOU think?  Here’s the complete list … what amazes you most?  Are you inspired to give any of these a shot?
(Listings in chronological order)


Bruce Trail, (Supported), Ontario
Chantal Warriner, 12d15h14m, 7/1-13
The 900km Bruce Trail has become a popular target for multi-day FKT efforts in eastern Canada. The previous FKT was 13d6h28m by Virginia Gingras (2015).

4 Passes Loop, Colorado
Anna Mae Flynn, 5h38m29s, 7/18
One of the most classic and competitive short mountain routes in Colorado.  This FKT has previously been held by Gina Lucrezi, Sandi Nypaver and most recently by Megan Lizotte (6h2m35s, 2015).

Wonderland Trail (Unsupported), Washington
Mallory Brooks & Allison Macsas, 29h12m25s, 8/14-15
Brooks & Macsas were unsupported, but they were met along the way by friends for purposes of documentation.  The supported FKT is 22h4m47s by Jen Shelton.

Mt Whitney ascent, California
Tina Lewis, 2h57m9s, 8/16
Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states, and so an automatic classic.  The men’s FKT has been contested for years, but only recently have serious attempts been reported by women.  Lewis’ ascent via the somewhat technical Mountaineer’s Route beat Charity Dubberley’s time for the same route, set just 1 week earlier, by 13 minutes.  Dubberley has the faster car-to-car time (5h10m51s, vs. 5h36m3s).

John Muir Trail, (Supported), California
Darcy Piceu, 3d7h57m, 9/15-17
Piceu’s time smashed the 10-year-old FKT of Sue Johnston by a whopping 12 hours, and at one point was on track for the Mens FKT. There was some controversy because of a small and unintentional route finding error:  Piceu (and pacer Betsy Nye) took the Mist Trail part of the way down into Yosemite Valley, very near the end of the run. 

Calif Coastal Trail OKT, (Self-Supported) California
Natalie Larson, 44d18h40m, 8/20-10/4
The CCT combines wilderness, beach and “urban” running/hiking for 1,200 miles along the coast of CA.  More of an OKT (Only Known Time), Larson’s self supported trip was an adventure in every sense, and was documented by satellite tracking and an evocative, complete report (worth reading).

Ozark Highlands Trail, (Supported), Arkansas
Ashley Nordell, 2d10h46m, 10/27-29
Nordell has the fastest time Overall (Women & Men).  The previous best was also by a woman, Jenny Foster, 2d14h25m (2009).

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim (N-S), Arizona
Alicia Vargo, 3h19m23s, 11/8
While the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) has been a major target for decades, the R2R has seen relatively little interest.  The previous women’s best (set S-N) was done as part of the R2R2R.  Vargo gave the R2R a serious shot on its own, which may inspire more women to go after this logical route.

Cat Bradley, 7h52m20s, 11/15
The R2R2R is clearly one of the most classic routes in NA.  Bradley made it a major goal, and turned in an excellent result, besting Bethany Lewis’ previous (2011) FKT by more than 23 min.

Zion Traverse, Utah
Hayden Hawks, 6h50m49s, 4/14
An excellent 48-mile route across Zion National Park that has attracted some serious competition, with the FKT being held by Jared Campbell & Karl Meltzer, Matt Hart, Luke Nelson, Travis Macy, and Mike Foote & Justin Yates.  Hawks took over 30min off the FKT of Foote & Yates, and raised fund for the National Parks.

Holy Nolan’s OKT, (Supported), Colorado
Andrew Hamilton, 71h32m, 6/29-7/2
Hamilton is the undisputed King of the Colorado 14ers, holding the FKT for CO 14ers (all 58 peaks).  This was his 3rd Nolan’s finish, and he holds the FKT for doing the Nolan’s route Unsupported.  Here he added Holy Cross, to link up all fifteen 14ers in the Sawatch Range in one push that added about 25 miles of on & off-trail travel to Nolan’s.  Besides being the first to finish “Holy Nolan’s”, he set the Nolan’s FKT in the process (which was later superseded by Iker Karrera.)

Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire
Ben Thompson, 4h29m55s, 7/6
This popular and logical route traverses the Presidential Range in NH.  Since 2009 the FKT has been traded back and forth several times between Ben Nephew, Ryan Welts and Jan Wellford, often beating each other’s times by just a few minutes.  Ben Thompson took nearly 5 minutes off of Nephew’s 2013 time. It’s a good bet we’ll see Nephew try to get it back.

Colorado’s Highest 100 Peaks, (Self-supported/Self-powered), Colorado
Justin Simoni, 60d14h59m42s (OKT), 7/18-9/16
Following on 2014’s self-supported / self-powered tour (and FKT at the time) of Colorado’s 58 14ers, Simoni upped the ante to include the highest 100 peaks in the state; every official summit over about 13,800’.  The high 13ers are more obscure and some are technically more challenging than the 14ers. Simoni biked 1,720 and hiked 624 miles, and gained enough vert to get into outer space – 247,810′ by foot and 136,374′ by bike. 

Nolan’s 14 (Supported), Colorado
Iker Karrera, 47h40m, 8/1-3
A Colorado classic that has attracted international attention, this is a very sturdy route: 14 summits over 14,000’, about 100 miles, 44,000’ of vert, about half off-trail.  Iker bested Andrew Hamilton’s time from June (see above) by 6h2m, including much time spent being lost.

LA Freeway, Colorado
Matthias Messner, 16h59m, 8/6
The LA Freeway links Longs Peak with South Arapaho Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The route follows the crest and summits all the peaks, traversing roughly 34 miles, mostly above 12,000’ elevation, and requires numerous sections of 4th and 5th Class climbing.  While this was envisioned by Carl Pfiffner in the 1950s, it wasn’t completed in a seamless push until 2002, when Buzz Burrell did it in 2 days with a bivouac.  Messner was only the second person to complete the LAF, and he set an entirely new standard by doing the route in only 16h59m.

Pawnee-Buchanan Loop, Colorado
Andrew Skurka, 4h46m32s, 8/16
Along with the Maroon Bells Four Passes loop, this is one of the most classic and scenic 1-day runs in the mountains of Colorado. Skurka took 4 minutes off Anton Krupicka’s 2010 time.

Appalachian Trail, (Self-Supported), East Coast
Joe McConaughy, 45d12h15m, 7/17-8/31
The AT has a long history of very strong efforts, with the men including David Horton 91, Pete Palmer 99, Andrew Thompson 05, Scott Jurek 15, and Karl Meltzer 16, all Supported. Stringbean bettered them all while going Self-supported, being 10 hours faster than “Speedgoat” from the previous year.

Colorado Trail, (Supported) Colorado
Bryan Williams, 8d0h30m, 8/26-9/3
Williams elected to take the Collegiate West option, which is apparently a little longer (83 vs. 78 miles?), with more vert and a generally higher altitude, than the Collegiate East route that has been taken by other FKT trips.  Nevertheless, he beat Scott Jamie’s 2013 time by over 7 hours.

Bruce Trail (Supported), Ontario, Canada
Adam Burnett, 9d21h14m, 9/1-11
Approx 900km. Previous best was 10d13h57m by Jim Willet, 2014.
The 44-year-old from Toronto lowered the solo fastest-known time by more than 13 hours.

Pemigewasset Loop, New Hampshire
Ben Thompson, 6h6m53s, 9/12
The Pemi Loop is another major White Mtns classic, and the FKT has been hotly contested for many years. Thompson took just over 3 minutes off Ben Nephew’s 2015 FKT time.  These times are tight.

Grand Canyon R2R (N-S) Arizona
Tim Freriks, 2h39m38s, 10/1
Freriks was supported by Jim Walmsley, who had the previous fastest R2R of 2h46m8s (2016) set during his R2R2R FKT run.  These are fast times – Rob Krar had run 2h51m28s in 2012 as a dedicated R2R effort.

John Muir Trail (Supported), California
Francois D’Haene, 2d19h26m, 10/14-17
The 2017 UTMB winner smashed the previous supported FKT by over 12 hours, running the route northbound, and was the first person to complete the route under 3 days. His approach was unusual in that by choosing to run in mid-October he gave up daylight in exchange for cooler temperatures and easier access to hiking permits for the area. He also had pacers the entire way, probably a first.
An amazing list.  The Top 5 will be announced starting on January 21, and published in Ultrarunning Magazine, due to ship on January 25.  Please Post your Comments below – we’d love to hear what you think!

Hillary Allen Talks Recovery and Plans for 2018

Hillary AllenTrail runners around the world hold a special affection for Colorado born-and-raised Hillary Allen. Her infectious smile and world-class skill in the most difficult skyraces launched a career that was set-back by a severe fall this summer. Hillary stopped by #UDHQ to fill us in on her recovery and how the injuries have impacted her physically, mentally and emotionally. Leave a comment if you can relate to recovering from injury and battling the mental and physical trials along the way…


My specialty is skyrunning. I really enjoy the technicality of this type of running, often using my hands to scramble and navigate ridges. It’s the steep terrain and technical trails that keep skyrunning interesting and challenging. I was competing in an extreme skyrace in Tromso, Norway (they call it “extreme” due to its demanding terrain, ridges and elevation profile…it’s STEEP).

This was my last race of the season (in Europe) before coming home to focus on a personal project (the Sierra High Route FKT, the RUT and potentially traveling back to Europe to claim my World Sky Running title).

That all changed on August 5th.

At the halfway point, I was on Hamperokken ridge (the very technical bit) and I fell off of the ridge, at the worst point possible, falling 150 feet, 50 of which were a free fall. This was followed by a succession of impacts down the mountain until I finally came to a halt.

I don’t remember the fall at all; what I remember is a dream-like state of floating through the air and coming to with Killian Jornet, Ian Corless, Martina Valmassoi and a racer (Manu Parr) all around me.

It wasn’t until 3 days later that I realized the accident and the fall happened to ME. It was like a rug had gotten pulled out from under me and I was airborne with my brain telling me that I was going to die and I should brace myself for impact. That repeated itself until I was knocked out and came to with the doctors, helicopter and hospital. I was told (by Ian Corless and Martina Valmassoi, both photographers who witnessed my fall) that there was rock fall that moved as I crossed over the ridge, causing me to fall.

My injuries were extensive yet I was extremely lucky. I broke both wrists and arms, I broke two ribs, bruised a lung, I broke two vertebrae (L4 and L5), had a concussion, broke four bones in my right foot, popped a ligament in my right foot and severely sprained my other ankle.


The recovery process has been extensive. I wasn’t able to use crutches since I had two broken wrists. I wasn’t able to walk well on my severely sprained ankle so I had a scooter. I’m off of the scooter now and easing back into activity on my own two feet. It’s about four months post-accident. The hardest part is my feet. The ligament fracture in my right foot is a lisfranc fracture (like an ACL in your knee); it’s essential to proper foot function, so healing is very important for a return to running.

My “supposedly” good foot is actually not good at all. I sprained the ankle so severely, that its mobility is very limited, even four months post-accident, and this is limiting my movement even more than my operated foot. But, I am not paralyzed, which I could’ve been given my L4 and L5 fractures.

I am able to hike and jog downhill although I have to be careful with jumping and stability since both of my feet are unstable. I hike with poles to help with that. I can go up almost just as fast as running (especially when it’s steep) but the actual running will take a while since I don’t want to force it and cause compensation issues. I can ski (carefully downhill), but I’m happy to get out and do some touring. I’m also doing PT diligently every day at Revo Physical Therapy. Oh and cross training…I might break the stair climber machine at the rec center :).

I still have another surgery to do in February where they will remove the screws in my foot. This will help me to return to running and training. After the recovery period of course.


My primary motivator is just to get back to enjoying the outdoors; to not take running for granted and to explore with my own two feet.

Also to not let myself down.


Showering. Being completely reliant on other people. Not being able to drive for 10 weeks and still having to get to work and do my PT and the grocery store and do normal every day things.

Every daily task initially was a challenge, from getting dressed to cooking to figuring out if I could eat dinner at a restaurant with friends.

Going up and down stairs on my butt was a fun challenge. To be in the middle of my season, winning the Skyrunning World Series, to then being completely immobile and incapacitated, that was intense, emotionally draining, depressing, and at times impossible.

I still struggle with this helpless feeling from time to time.

DO you think you’ll be back to full strength & racing in 2018?

I’m not setting any racing goals in 2018. What appeals to me is my FKT attempt on the Sierra High Route (SHR). I was supposed to do this back in August, but with the accident, that was impossible. I think doing the SHR would be a good challenge for me, a year out from my accident, it would give me a chance to train and given the nature of the SHR, it might suit me well, since it’s more of a fast packing/trekking route than an all-out run.

But I’m keeping it relaxed. I will see how training goes after I’m cleared to run after my second surgery in February. I would like to do some later season races (fall) if I’m feeling ready. My main goal in 2018 is to get back to enjoying training outside and getting as strong as I can.


I have most definitely evolved as a trail runner and athlete. I’m fortunate to be a part of brands (like UD and TNF and Skratch) that allow me to dream and to explore. It’s about running fast during races, but more so now, it’s about challenging myself and others to push themselves to places they never thought they could go.

The other side of things is evolving as an athlete. I want to combine running and climbing routes, to become a better mountain athlete as a whole, not just a trail runner.

What’s new with Ultimate Direction in 2018?

Insta_12.6.17_AllieSpotlight (1)We know you’re eager to hear what’s coming in 2018 from Ultimate Direction so we sat down with our icicle-haired designer Ally Juhasz (…don’t worry, it has fully melted) to find out what’s coming in the new year and what inspires UD product. Ally is a super talented designer with experience at sportswear brands Under Armour and Obermeyer. She’s motivated to design the finest products for self-propelled athletes. Let’s meet Ally…


how do you define your position at Ultimate Direction?

I am a designer/developer at UD.  I work mainly on our wearable gear category which we are significantly expanding for spring 2019.

What drew you to ud?

A lot of what drew me to Ultimate Direction was that I felt it was a brand that would truly allow me to design exceptional product. We have a small but passionate team with great energy.

We have a never-ending flow of ideas and enough resources to implement them. At the same time we’re small enough to not wind up a “design by committee” when it comes to product decision-making.

What can customers expect from the brand in 2018?

In 2018, we will be expanding our Adventure category and have added a very innovative trekking pole and gaiter.

We will be offering the lightest trekking pole on the market as well as a super-fitted, stretch Cordura gaiter with a replaceable strap.

What challenges do your designs solve?

Two factors that I always keep in mind when working on product for UD are comfort and weight. The biggest challenge we face here is maximizing the comfort-to-weight ratio.

Many of our customers will be wearing UD products over long distances and for extended periods of time so everything we make needs to have a customizable, chafe-free fit, done in as minimal a package as possible.

What is your goal for our product in 2018?

My goal for 2018 is to see the brand become more approachable for people who are involved in other “self propelled” activities outside of, or in addition to ultrarunning. In 2018 we have broadened our range of products to help athletes with a wide variety of outdoor pursuits and have also started to offer more multi-use product.

Ultrarunning will always be at the core of UD product but we want to give our customers even more reasons to interact with the brand.

What is Skimo??

“Skimo” – the word is now part of the ultrarunning lexicon. Killian has always done it, many ultra runners have taken it up, Mike Foote and Rob Krar are on their National Teams, it’s the coolest new thing … so what the heck is skimo anyway?

Here is the best answer possible:  some of the top people in the sport will tell you all about it, in their own words – – –

Mathéo 1

Mathis Dumas photo of Matheo Jacquemond


Anton Krupicka:  “Skimo” is simply shorthand for “ski mountaineering”, but the shorthand is typically reserved for the competitive races.  “Ski mountaineering” is climbing and skiing technical mountains, which is something that has been around for many generations and is not new. However, uphill skinning at resorts is something that is becoming more popular as a form of winter exercise and I don’t think requires any labels. Call it whatever you want; if you enjoy it, do it.

Mike Foote:  What most folks love and crave is a big day of backcountry touring. The skills and fitness you gain from skimo racing develop your ability to be efficient and strong on big days in the mountains. Skimo racing is just the essence of ski mountaineering distilled down into a controlled course.

Jason Borro:   Racing is great training for the real thing, which is ski mountaineering.  It demands efficiency that can mean the difference between success or failure in the wild.

GT Start

Start of 2017 Grand Traverse


Max Taam:  Skimo has always been the perfect sport in my mind. It combines endurance, technical skills, and downhill ski racing in an incredible mountain setting.

Mike Foote:  Ski Mountaineering is simply the most fun and natural way to move through complex terrain in the mountains during the winter. It utilizes a wide variety of skill sets, pushes you incredibly hard aerobically, and has a level of adrenaline that is hard to find in trail running.

Mathéo 4Nikki Kimball:  Because it is crazy fun!  And because skiing gives my body and brain a break from the repetitive stress of running, while simultaneously allowing me to work on strength, power, cardiovascular fitness, and even the mental skills need in ultrarunning.

Stano Faban:  It’s just like trail running except you are much more free! Ski mountaineering/touring is an amazing way to cover lots of terrain, push yourself, and meet great people in general.  I don’t remember when was last time I called any of my skimo sessions a workout.

Eric Bunce: There are so many different aspects to the sport, so much technicality, so on race day its not who has the most horsepower but who is the best all around athlete.  Plus its a way to get out and explore the mountains.

Grant Guise: I moved from New Zealand to Tahoe to ski patrol, and started hearing these stories about Skimo, this weird sport that was big in Europe and involved a lot of lycra …

Anton Krupicka:  I participate in Skimo for three reasons: 1) Skiing is the winter version of mountain running; 2) Cross training – I can do big volume without overuse injuries; 3) I love mountain endurance competitions, no matter the sport.

Clare Gallagher:  There’s no way I could run year round; training and racing become exhausting. By doing skimo in the winter, I give my legs a break from running, strengthen my butt, back, and arms, and get so cold I wish it were summer again. Oh, and it’s pretty fun. And the people are hilarious hardcore hooligans that give trail runners a run for their money in terms of the weirdness-factor.  The lycra…

Clare 3


Mike Foote:  Skimo is more demanding and intense.  Not only are the races much higher intensity and shorter in duration, the very nature of skimo lends itself to hard aerobic efforts – you might spend an hour climbing a slope and just five minutes skiing back down.  If you love climbing, skimo is the sport for you.

Grant Guise: For me, the ideal run and the ideal ski adventure are very similar: in the backcountry, exploring, moving fast, and ideally with a summit.

Anton:  The base aesthetic is the same – moving in a mountain landscape.  Beyond that, they’re obviously very different. For skimo, expensive, technical equipment is required. Basic technique is required. To be competitive, a lot of specific technical skill is required (i.e., transitions, technical skinning, and skiing steep, variable terrain on skittery, lightweight gear).

Nikki: During transitions, the athlete quickly and completely changes the function of her equipment. Whether going from uphill skinning to downhill skiing, boot-packing to skiing, or descending to climbing, the athlete must be absolutely focused on the several required tasks in transition.  I find any sport which makes ultrarunning seem easy to be of great value!

Dropping into Dragons Tail - courtesy photo Matt Hart

Dropping into Dragons Tail – courtesy photo Matt Hart


Eric:  the sport has really progressed in the US both in numbers and in level of performance. You no longer can buy your speed; you have to train in all aspects of the sport.

Stano:  The gear was already light 10 years ago, and now it’s more accessible and durable so more people can pick up the sport. One new trend is lots of trail runners are getting into skimo; I think they have seen the light at the end of the tunnel :)

Nikki:  The sport has grown in the decade I’ve been doing it, mirroring ultrarunning. The overall effect is positive (more people enjoying healthy activity, better equipment, easily accessed learning opportunities), but I feel some growing pains. The gear has improved so that one is at a disadvantage when not racing on relatively current and expensive gear. The growth of skimo catalyzed amazing improvements in gear function, but expect your bank account to be a bit lighter.  Of course, simply enjoying ski mountaineering, or not being concerned with race results, can release an athlete of her perceived need for the most expensive gear.

Skimo Company, Salt Lake City

Skimo Company, Salt Lake City


Max:  We have a lot of great races in the US now that provide challenging, authentic Skimo courses. My favorites include the Aspen Snowmass Power of Four, Taos, and the Powderkeg.  Racing in Europe is still a must for any American racer at some point during their career. It’s a big eye opener regarding the level of racing and truly amazing courses. My favorites are the Tour du Rutor and the Pierra Menta.

Mike:  Last year I made the US Ski Mountaineering Team and had the opportunity to race in Europe at the World Championships. The level of competition over in Euope is incredible and eye opening. Nations have developmental teams and take the sport quite seriously.  There is such history and celebration of the sport over there, which is great to learn from.

Max Taam and partner finishing 2017 Grand Traverse before the sun comes up on Aspen Mt.

Max Taam and partner finishing 2017 Grand Traverse before the sun comes up on Aspen Mt.

Stano:  I have been racing for over 15 years and have followed the sport for about 20, and attended three World Championships. But the most important thing to me is that it’s still one of the most pure sports out there. Sure there are rules and you need to be fit, but when you are racing up and down mountains on snow there is definitely some magic to it.

Grant:  I was super keen to start a series of races here in New Zealand, and for a few years we had a small series of 4 races and then a couple of races a year, but it has died down now. I think skiing here is looked at as something that is social and not competitive.

Eric:  I have been racing since 2005 when i jumped in a race in New Zealand while I was working down there. Then came back stateside and started racing the (Wasatch) Powderkeg and the Colorado races. Two  years ago went to France and raced Pierra Menta – totally hooked!

Nikki:  My first race was Bridger Bowl’s Skin to Win. I raced on hand-me-down skis, a pair I later handed off to a friend who nicknamed them “The Skis of Death” for their complete inability to turn. Prior to the race I watched available videos about the sport on YouTube: all two or three of them. I was still undefeated in trail ultra running and feeling a bit cocky: how tough could this be? It’s just a combination of two sports I’m pretty good at: running and skiing, right?

The gun went off at Bridger’s Le Mans start and I ran fast to my skis. Then I fumbled with my bindings while watching the entire pack start up the mountain. But I recovered from this and started passing skiers up the hill. Then I spent what felt like hours trying to get back into my bindings while out of breath and terribly embarrassed that everyone I had passed seemed to fly by me effortlessly. The race continued in this manner, with the exception of me catching fewer and fewer other athletes after each transition. I finished, exhausted, in last place by over half an hour.  And strangely stoked to return.

Clare:  I love skimo races because most of them are partner races. This is due to the remote nature of the sport and the need for a buddy in case of an avalanche or if other bad things were to happen. I began my skimo “career” partnering with my dad for a handful of COSMIC races. The 2016 Grand Traverse was our last race together. It’s a miracle we finished, let alone were still able to call each other family. The hurt and dynamics of these races are so complicated and make for the rawest, most tear-strewn, hypothermic, and concussed of experiences.

Clare 4


Jason Borro– Salt Lake City, UT.  Owner of the Skimo Company, the first retailer of skimo specific gear in North America.

Eric Bunce– Salt Lake City, UT.  RD of the Wasatch Powderkeg, and a skier and skimo racer.

Stano Faban– Vancouver, BC. Publisher of Skintrack.com, a leading blog of all things backcountry skiing.

Clare Gallagher – Boulder, CO.  Ultrarunner, ski mountaineer, winner of the 2016 Leadville Trail 100 and 2017 CCC race in France.

Mike Foote – Bozeman, MT.  Ultrarunner, twice 2nd at Hardrock 100, 3rd at UTMB, and too many other big races to count.

Grant Guise – Waneka, New Zealand.  Ultrarunner, ski mountaineer, 8th and 11th at Hardrock 100.

Nikki Kimball – Bozeman, MT.  Longtime ultrarunner, skier, 3-time winner of WS100, 1st place UTMB, 1st place Marathon Des Sables, National Snowshoe Champion.

Anton Krupicka – Boulder, CO.  Ultrarunner, ski mountaineer, climber, twice winner of Leadville Trail 100, 2nd place Western States 100 , Miwok 100km winner.

Max Taam – Aspen, CO.  Dedicated ski mountaineer, winner and CR of 2017 Grand Traverse, Crested Butte, CO.

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOME!  Ever tried Skimo?  Are you going to?