For many of us just walking the 93-mile loop around the Mount Rainier Wonderland Trail is an accomplishment. On July 1-2 Canadian endurance runner Gary Robbins set a new record for a supported run of the challenging course. Robbin’s followed the standard Longmire clockwise route finishing the loop in just 18 hours, 52 minutes, shredding two hours off the previous record set in 2006.
The previous record was held by endurance running legend Kyle Skaggs and was considered unbeatable. Robbins had been planning the record run for 18 months and scouted the course in October. The record attempt was originally planned for late July, but unseasonably warm weather allowed a record attempt to be mounted in the beginning of July.
The record attempt started with a 34-mile leg that gained 11,000 feet from Longmire to Mowich Lake. Robbins told iRunFar that the long hill run played to his training strengths and that he just turned off his watch and enjoyed the run. Robbins finished that first leg 30 minutes faster than he had planned and knew the record was within reach. Robbins said the crux of the race occurred in the next stage with a 4,800 foot elevation gain up to Sunrise. Robbins hit this leg during the heat of the day and began to think that he was behind his pace. When he reached his next support station he realized he had actually cut another 15 minutes off the split. Robbins arrived at the finish line at 2 a.m., finishing the final push 15-20 minutes faster than he had planned. Robbins said the record validated his training and work as an endurance athlete.
According to Robbins, he could not have set the record without the dedicated crew of supporters. The support crew included drivers, pacers and a film crew. The crew had three planned support stops, the first at 34 miles, then after another 26.5, and finally before the last 19 miles. Robbins said the support crew had a full aid station and everything he needed to be successful – including motivation.
This is just the latest endurance run record to be set this year. On July 12, endurance running legend Scott Jurek, 41, set a supported thru-hike record of the 2,189.2 mile Appalachian Trail, running from Georgia to Maine. Jurek finished the long-distance run in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes, beating the previous record held by 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the year Jennifer Pharr Davis by three hours. Jurek averaged nearly 50 miles a day in his record setting effort.