FKT Grants Awarded!

Fastest Known Times have become really popular – as we found out when Ultimate Direction, along with partners La Sportiva and GU Energy Labs, announced the intention to award four Grants to people attempting FKT projects – and we received 315 Applications!  After screening those 79 projects were still left – and each one was totally worthy and really interesting.  I planned to crush that down to 20 projects our Award Panel could vote on – but I just couldn’t do it – they were too good!

I could only get it down to 39 Applications, then turned it over to our Panel to decide.  Here’s what they said:  “I want to do this one!!!”.  “An iconic trail that’s incredibly challenging”. “This is one of my pipe-dream projects.”  “OH MY GOSH!”.

So enough spray, these four athletes will be awarded $1,000 plus all the partners gear they want (from East to West):

Hut to Hut – Samuel Jurek – New Hampshire – June 30-July 1

Samuel wrote:

“The White Mountains Hut Traverse is an extremely rocky and rugged route connecting the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.”

“FKTs bring you to territory rarely frequented.  They are unlike experiences on a race course, yet access that same competitive spirit.  There are no spectators, yellow ribbons lighting the way, aid stations, or a crowd to cheer you down the homestretch.  You have to continue on under your own volition.  Digging into the soul, these attempts are raw, authentic experiences that force an examination of vulnerabilities and access of true grit.”

Award Panel comments:

“Lots of history!” “East coast trails are different than California – very burly.”  “It’s going to be hard.”


Colorado Trail Unsupported – Heather Anderson – Colorado – September 1-9

Heather wrote:
“My route would follow the well established and challenging 500 mile Colorado Trail end to end. I would complete this route in an unsupported manner, carrying all supplies from the beginning and accepting no assistance along the way.”
“Long distance trails are my passion in life. I’ve wanted to thru-hike the CT since I first hiked a section of it in 2006. I believe I can be faster than both the unsupported and self- supported FKTs.  Also, although I hold 3 Self-supported records, I would love the challenge of a completely Unsupported endeavor – especially of this length.”
(Note: the UD FKT Grants reserved one spot for a Woman; however, Heather was one of the top 4 overall vote-getters making that moot).
Award Panel comments:
“She has proven herself time and time again.”  “We like her chances.”


Wind River Traverse – David Anderson – Wyoming – September 1-14

David wrote:

“Summit all of the 40 named peaks along the Continental Divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming in a continuous push. The Wind River Range   runs for 100 miles along the Continental Divide from South Pass to Union Pass in central Wyoming. Between these two points, no road crosses or even penetrates the crest and it is located entirely in wilderness.  The traverse will include over 40,000ft of elevation gain and descent. Of the 40 peaks we will climb, 38 peaks are over 12,000ft and 14 are over 13,000ft including the highest in Wyoming, Gannet Peak at 13,804 ft.”
“I lived in Lander for 12 years. During that time I worked as a mountaineering and rock climbing instructor for NOLS and backpacked/climbed throughout the Wind Range. In my personal time, I established many new technical climbing routes including the first car to car enchainment of the Cirque of the Towers (solo) and an FKT on Gannet Peak. The Wind River Mountain Traverse will take all of the skills I have honed in 35 years of climbing. Technical rock climbing, alpine ice climbing, glacial travel, complicated route finding, severe mountain weather and bears hazards are a few.”
Award Panel comments:
“I’ve studied this a bit and it would be an incredible accomplishment – very hard!”  “I appreciate a big audacious project like this proposed by an eminently capable adventurer.”  “This is bold and a HUGE project with a high probability of failure – great!”

WRT Route

Norman’s 13 – Andy Gohlich – California – September 22-24

Andy wrote:

“Norman’s 13 (AKA the Sierra Nevada 14er Link-Up) will connect all thirteen of the 14,000′ peaks in the Sierra Nevada range in one push on foot, north-to-south, following the model of Colorado’s Nolan’s 14 challenge.”

“I am going to attempt this new FKT route because the Sierra Nevada have been so formative to my love for the mountains, and putting up a Nolan’s-style route in my home range (especially a range so iconic), in good style, is a way to pay tribute to these mountains that I can be truly proud of.  I hope that by having the vision for this route and sharing it with others that I can somehow give back to the sports that have given me so much, inspiring others to combine climbing and running to experience the same route, and hopefully inspiring someone to come along someday and do it faster as well. Trail running/hiking and climbing are my bread and butter, and the technical nature of the peaks of the Sierra Nevada compliment the fusion of these sports like no other.”

What the Award Panel said:

“Brilliant – the comparison to Nolan’s is apt and obvious.”  “Creative! Great range and I like the idea of a Nolan’s style in CA!”

Note there are 15 14ers in CA, but two are entirely disconnected, so 13 is logical.

Note there are 15 14ers in CA, but two are entirely disconnected, so 13 is logical.

What to YOU think?  Want to try any of these?
We will be updating with progress, so stay tuned.
WR Pic
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10 thoughts on “FKT Grants Awarded!

  1. Pingback: Ultramarathon Daily News, Mon, May 1 - Ultrarunnerpodcast

    • I think are rad and love the diverse range across the U.S. I cannot wait to follow the progress! Especially the Wind River Traverse…I agree, Buzz! Well done, UD!

  2. 4 extremely cool and challenging projects, and I like that there’s a mix of on-trail routes and more off-trail and technical routes. That Wind River trip is bonkers – completing it at all will be impressive regardless of the time, and I continue to be excited by the combination of running and climbing in FKT culture. Stuff like this and the Teton Traverse last year are exactly the kind of thing I’m training for, albeit at a much lower level. Also very interested to see how the Norman’s 13 route will go in CA. Thank you UD for putting this together!

    • My thoughts as well. It’s hard to believe no one has done Norman’s 13 yet, it’s so logical – and it’s hard to believe anyone will complete the Wind River Traverse! I’ve stood up there eyeballing that route many times – it can definitely go – but it will be big.

  3. This is awesome. Hopefully we can get some detailed TRs on here at the seasons end!

  4. These are all pretty amazing projects and lines, but I’m curious as to why you selected one of your own sponsored athletes for the award? Isn’t that kind of redundant (wasn’t UD already going to support Heather)?
    I’ve loved watching Heather take on these massive trails in traditional through hiker fashion, but shouldn’t an award like this be setup to challenge those not already under your sponsorship umbrella?


    • “We” didn’t select Heather – an 8 member Award Panel simply voted, and those 4 were the top vote-getters. Numerous Ultimate Direction Ambassadors submitted Applications, which was not a factor in the voting. Personally, I didn’t even vote. (My selections would have been different – but that’s the fairness and beauty of this process – just like in the FKT of the Year voting, no one made selections that were 100% the final result; it’s a group process).

      Another cool aspect is we reserved one Grant for Women, but it wasn’t needed as Heather was one of the top 4 anyway.

      I’ll ask you to be a Voter for the 2017 FKTOY Awards – it’s fun (and really hard!)

  5. These are some very cool projects, I especially like the Norman’s 13 concept. I think there are a lot of people right now going “why didn’t I think of that?” I know I am. It’s so obvious and elegant, but everyone has been focused on doing ALL of the CA 14ers in the past…I like this idea better, less logistics, no driving between trailheads/mountain ranges, could be done supported or unsupported etc…Great idea Andy! Thanks UD for sponsoring this, and congrats to all the winners, should be a great year for FKT’s! Very cool to see Heather among the winners too, she has certainly earned it with her multiple long trail FKT’s over the last few years…

    • Allen, “Why didn’t I think of that?” was the exact response of many on the Award Panel! An idea whose time as come.

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