On Dec 17, 2017, I completed a new unsupported and solo Fastest Known Time (FKT) of the gnarly 165 mile Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) in 70:01:16 (2 days 22h 1min). The previous unsupported record was about 110h (by Trey and Dylan in Aug 2016). Unsupported means no external support of any kind. This was my 2nd attempt. See announcement here. The 1st attempt is documented here. I roughly spent $8.60 per mile of running on this FKT.
‘How to Beat my Record’ Movie Clip
Want to beat my record? Here’s a bunch of tips and tricks on how to do better than I did.
Direct URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDJuD2j_fdE
Training and Preparation Movie Clip
Direct URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYw6SGXdfwY
How to Beat My Time
Below is a list of 13 tips that I think someone who wants to beat my record can or should consider. Some are obvious, others perhaps not so much. More details in the movie clip.
- Go more minimal, go lighter.
- Know the water sources.
- Pee less.
- Be younger, stronger, and better trained.
- Pick a perfect weather window.
- Know the trail and train on the trail.
- Know the finish.
- Sleep less.
- Avoid errors.
- Pack enough calories.
- Opt for less darkness.
- Keep your shit together.
- Know how to navigate.
In October 2017, Ashley Nordell, who happens to live in Oregon too, set a new supported FKT in 58h 46min. You can read about her experience here. According to the FKT Board, the current records are as following:
|Ashley Nordell||Women||Supported||2d 10h 46m (58h 46min)||Oct 2017|
|Women||Supported||2d 14h 25m (62h 25min)||Jan 2009|
|Steve Kirk & Greg Eason||Men||Supported||2d 16h 34m (64h 34min)||Mar 2004|
|Men||Unsupported||4d 13h 53m (109h 53min)||Aug 2016|
|Christof Teuscher||Men||Unsupported||2d 22h 1m (70h 1min)||Dec 2017|
1Note that technically, Trey and Dylan’s record does not count as unsupported because they were a team of two. Unsupported means solo. Yet, the opinions are split about that detail. Also…link seems down.
The key to moving fast is to go light. While your body weight has some influence on running efficiency, what matters much more here is the additional weight you are carrying. Although there are other variables that matter, the weight you are carrying is something you probably have the most influence over. To move an object with a mass m at a speed v, you need a certain energy: kinetic energy KE [in Joule] = ½×m×v2. Thus, assuming your metabolism is able to produce a constant energy output that you can use for kinetic energy, i.e., to run, if you are 10% heavier than your normal weight because of a pack, your speed would be reduced by 5% (I’ll let you do the derivation). So, that also means you can be 5% faster if you manage to be 10% lighter. If you are 20% heavier, you’d be about 10% slower. Of course you could go faster despite the weight increase, but you’d need more energy for that. And you may not readily have that available. Plus, you’d also need to eat more calories. So, no matter what, a lighter pack allows you to go faster and/or longer, at least in theory. On a 165mi route that will take 60-70hours to complete, being 5% faster would make roughly a 3h difference.
In reality, things are—as always—a bit more complex. For example, it also depends where the additional weight is. Not surprisingly, the shoe weight has a big effect on performance. It’s also well known that any weight further away from your center of gravity (such as your shoes) will decrease your running efficiency. That’s why carrying bottles in your hands is a pretty bad idea.
Yet, going minimal comes at a risk as well. You may have to quit because you did not pack enough layers or enough food. So it all depends on how much risk you are willing to take.
For my calories budget, I assumed it would take me up to 70h to complete the trail. I usually consume about 180cal/hour, but decided to go to about 210cal/hour as I did not have enough calories during my 1st attempt. But not only that, I felt I had the wrong calories then. So I spent a lot of time testing new things and trying to think outside of the waffle wrapper. For example, I discovered instant Jello and coconut bites.
Wed, Dec 13, 2017
- Flew out to Fayetteville.
- Got a good dinner and a good night of sleep.
Thu, Dec 14, 2017
- Drove to Turner Bend.
- Was dropped off at start.
- Started at 9:39am.
Fri, Dec 15, 2017
Sat, Dec 16, 2017
Sun, Dec 17, 2017
- Finished at 7:40am.
- Transported back to Turner Bend.
- Drove back to Fayetteville.
- Drank beer and got a good night of sleep.
Mon, Dec 18, 2017
- Flew back to Portland.
Nothing is for free in these days. Certainly not running. Considering all my expenses, it turns out I roughly spent $8.60 per mile of running on this FKT.
|Flight from PDX to Fayetteville||$416|
|Hotel night before start||$110|
|Hotel night after finishing||$110|
|Transport to start (incl. tip)||$60|
|Transport from finish (incl. tip)||$130|
|Dinner before and after||$60|
|One pair of shoes (Hoka ATR3)||$130|
|Food for the adventure||$100|
|Cost per mile of running||$8.60|
- Elapsed time: 70:01:16 hours (2 days 22h 1min)
- Full track: https://www.strava.com/activities/1319107456/overview
- Short-logged miles: https://www.strava.com/activities/1319110280
- The GPS was on 1min interval, it thus short-logged many miles.
- SPOT Adventure:
- Note that the tracking failed due to two empty sets of batteries. I was only able to send out occasional OK messages.
- Ozark Highlands Trail Association
- Ozark Highlands Trail Guide
- Turner Bend: Transportation, lodging, food
- Trip report: Ozark Highlands Trail Hike: A Ten Day Thru Hike Journey