Appalachian Trail Speed Record
Appalachian Trail Speed Record Falls in just 54 days to Seattle native Heather Anderson. Source: kuow.org

Endurance trekking speed records have been falling on America’s iconic trails for the past year. It started last summer when Seattle native Joe McConaughy set the supported thru-hike record on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then this summer Scott Jurek set a new supported thru-hike record on the Appalachian Trail. Now Seattle native Heather Anderson has set the unsupported record on the Appalachian Trail reaching Springer Mountain, Ga., on Sept. 24, in just 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes.

Anderson averaged more than 40 miles per day on the 2,189 mile trek cutting four days off the previous record held by Mark Kirk. Anderson told reporters she was able to consistently maintain this daily mileage by making the most of every day, “I woke up every morning at 4 a.m. and was typically hiking by about 4:30. And I walked all day without taking a break until 10, 11 sometimes at night and just was very consistent.”

Appalachian Trail Speed Record
Anderson averaged over 40 miles a day on her record setting unsupported thru-hike. Source: blog.altrazerodrop.com

Anderson said she never took a day off and would only stop on the trail to get water and for other necessities. When Anderson went into towns to resupply she had the goal of staying no longer than an hour. This discipline and focus over the 54 days helped make Anderson successful in setting the record. Anderson said she developed this strategy while setting the unsupported thru-hike record on the PCT in 2013.

Anderson told National Public Radio that she started hiking a little over a decade ago while in college to boost self-esteem and become more fit. Her first long trek was the Appalachian Trail, before moving on to her record setting effort on the PCT.  But after recent struggles on other record setting attempts, Anderson saw the Appalachian Trail trek as a way to revisit that first hike and reground herself in the things that brought her to trekking in the first place. Anderson said, “That was empowering and helped me to see that I have value not only as an athlete but as a human being and helped me really overcome these inner demons.”

 

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