Another Side Effect of Covid19- A Proliferation of FKTs

Trail runners and hikers like to set the fastest known time (FKT) on various routes, some of them quite elaborate. More famous ones include through-hikes on the Appalachian trail, and rim-to-rim (or rim-to-rim-to-rim) in the Grand Canyon. Because of Covid19, a lot of formal races and other events have been postponed or cancelled, so FKT attempts provide another outlet. You can do these yourself, you just have to provide the GPS data for your attempt. Trail runner magazine described how this July there were 566 FKTs set, compared to 151 the previous July. Some of the more notable ones were one the Tahoe Rim Trail, the Colorado Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, and the classic fell-running route in the UK, The Bob Graham Round. Others are less well known but still impressive feats. I am happy to see people figuring out safe ways to still be adventurous. And kudos to Buzz Burrell and Peter Bakwin who tirelessly keep track of the records on their website Fastest Known Time.

I must admit that these FKTs can be a little humbling for us mere mortals attempting the same route. My brother and I hiked rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon in the early 80s when we were both in our primes. Granted we were not trying to st any speed record, but still it took us more than 14 hours. The FKT (Tim Freriks, 2017) is 2 hr 39 minutes. Nevertheless it can inspire us to go for are own similar adventures, even if it is at a somewhat slower pace. And they don’t have to as long as a lot of the FKTs are. Much shorter alternatives are trying to set the King (or Queen) of the mountain on Strava segments on a bike. Or you can do something informal you make up yourself, like me power-walking up Barnard road which I mentioned recently. I’m pleased to have recently lowered my PR to 12:53. Not bad for an old guy. These kinds of challenges add some spice to training.

I’ve been keeping to shorter outdoor stuff lately because of our poor air quality. You may have seen pictures of the orange air in San Francisco. Ours hasn’t been quite that bad, but despite the fact that the local fires are getting pretty well under control, a combination of the marine layer coming in and the smoke (not just from the local fires but from newer fires further away) has made the air look like dirty fog. This doesn’t inspire going long. For now, I work out indoors or stick to short stuff outdoors, and sometimes even wear a particulate mask.

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