This is part 3 in a series to motivate and inspire your running and adventure goals in 2019. This entry comes from UD ambassador, Karel Sabbe. In July and August 2018 Karel attracted international attention for his new FKT on the Appalachian Trail where he took more than 4 days off what already was a highly competitive time, established by a who’s who of some of the best ultra-runners in the US. Karel explains what it takes to try an FKT for yourself this year.
Setting a Fastest Known Time (FKT) can be an awesome adventure because you can make it your own thing with a personal approach. Unlike during a race there is no fixed time or date to start and there are no aid stations at fixed locations. You can create a plan that looks best to you personally. This can be challenging because it can take a lot of effort to work this all out, but the freedom this gives can be very rewarding as well.
BE SAFE AND LEAVE NO TRACE
Unlike races, setting an FKT can be an event in a remote location or in a protected area or National Park. You need a very good plan as you don’t want to be that person that needs to be rescued by professionals or volunteers. You’re out there for your own challenge but you don’t want to give other people challenges because you didn’t plan well!
A good plan makes it possible to leave no trace and to make your FKT attempt as enjoyable as possible.
CHOOSE YOUR ROUTE WISELY
Try to choose a route that feels comfortable to you. This means the adventure has a duration that you can manage, a distance you feel like you can take, and a level of adventure that you are experienced enough to attempt. There are hundreds of trails on which one can set an FKT. It should be easy to find the one that’s ideal for you! Choosing the right FKT attempt for you will be the most important decision on the way to a successful ending.
UNSUPPORTED, SELF-SUPPORTED OR SUPPORTED?
Different approaches offer different challenges and rewards. An unsupported or self-supported FKT attempt can be a life-changing personal experience. A supported attempt poses challenges as to how are you going to handle being dependent on other people and make it more of a team effort. All approaches can be inspiring in their own way. A mix of supported and unsupported adventures could be ideal!
PREPARE WELL AND PLAN YOUR PROOF
Most likely there will be articles, blogs, videos or maybe even books about your FKT attempt. Go online and see what people have done in the past. Learn from their strengths but also from their mistakes! It goes without saying that you should reach out to the current and previous record holders and discuss your upcoming attempt with them.
Nowadays you can’t set an FKT if you can’t offer GPS proof. Don’t try your GPS device for the first time while you’re out on your FKT attempt! Plan your additional proof as well. Selfies at important signposts, speaking with witnesses, etc. help validate your attempt. It’s not worth setting an FKT that in the end doesn’t get recognized for lack of proof. Take your time to plan this as well and there will be no discussion.
Setting an FKT is quickly gaining in popularity with over 3 requests a day on the FastestKnownTime.com website. And for good reason! You can experience the trails in ways that no races can let you experience them. It’s your own adventure with your own goals. When you have made all your plans, you have done your training and you’re ready to go out there: enjoy it and let go of everything that has led up to it.
Any outcome is a good outcome, as long as you have gone outside your comfort zone and have tried to do something remarkable.