News: 2nd 165mi Ozark Highlands Trail Unsupported FKT Attempt

Update: I finished in 70:01:16 (2 days 22h 1min). See report here.

On Thu, Dec 14, 2017, I will make a 2nd unsupported fastest known time (FKT) attempt of the 165 mile Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) in northwest Arkansas. The 1st attempt on Feb 1, 2017, was not exactly a success. You can check out the depressive movie clip report here if you don’t know what to do with your next 10 minutes.

The 2nd attempt will mainly serve as the peak training effort and gear kit test for Britain’s most brutal 267 mile winter Spine race. As the saying goes, the attempt will either break me or make me stronger. No matter what, it will be another experiment, another test, another bad idea, another lesson, another painful experience.

Below is a short clip about the Ozark and Spine training of the last couple of weeks. It had taken me a long time to recover from the UTMB/Tor double. I guess I’m getting old. An extremely painful shingles outbreak, perhaps because of my weakened immune system, set me back in addition. But I was finally able to fully reboot my training and go through several solid cycles. More gear was purchased, shoes were tested, navigation skills were honed, muscles were built, pain was had, beer was consumed, and the willpower was nurtured.

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1st attempt, Feb 2017: It was cold. And it looks like it will be cold again.

1st attempt, Feb 2017: There were leaves. Like everywhere. And in the leaves, there were armadillos. And rocks. Did I mention leaves?

1st attempt, Feb 2017: I made it 89.4mi in 32:56:34. That is how slow this trail is. Also, I look pale and tired. That very much reflects reality.

Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) main route (165mi). West end: Lake Ford Smith State Park. East end: Woolum.


Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) elevation profile. The trail is relentless. Nothing too crazy otherwise.

Unsupported means I will have no external support of any kind. Thus, I will be carrying all my gear and food (except water) from the beginning to the end. Also, I will be doing this solo. I’ll start at the Lake Fort Smith State Park (West end) and (fingers crossed!) finish at the Woolum campground (East end). However, this time I will start in the morning and after a good night of sleep.

Current Records

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:

Name Category Style Time Date
Ashley Nordell Women Supported 2d 10h 46m (58h 46min) Oct 2017
Jenny Foster Women Supported 2d 14h 25m (62h 25min) Jan 2009
Steve Kirk & Greg Eason Men Supported 2d 16h 34m (64h 34min) Mar 2004
Trey and Dylan1 Men Unsupported 4d 13h 53m (109h 53min) Aug 2016

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.


You can track my progress at the following address:

The plan is to start around 9:30am (CST) on Thu, Dec 14, 2017.


As during my first attempt, I will likely see lots of nine-banded armadillos. They are very timid and dig into the leaves and soil when they get scared.

“Who wouldn’t be impressed by the armadillo’s extraordinary reproductive cycle? Armadillos mate in summer, but the fertilized egg doesn’t attach itself to the wall of the female’s uterus until early winter. Upon implantation, the egg divides to produce four embryos that develop into genetically identical quadruplets. Each litter contains four young, all of the same sex. Armadillos are the only mammals in which such double-twinning regularly occurs” [Source: The little armored one].

There may also be feral hogs, which are considered an invasive species. Bears are the other big game that I have to watch out for. Luckily, there won’t be any ticks, bugs, and snakes in the winter, which there would be plenty of during the other times of the year.

Other resources: