Karl Meltzer Breaks Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail Record

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    Karl Meltzer is greeted by Scott Jurek as he sets the new record for fastest supported thru-hike on the Appalachian. Image via the New York Times.

    The third time was a charm for ultra runner Karl Meltzer, who now holds the record for the fastest completion of the 2,190 miles (that’s 3,524 kilometres) of the Appalachian Trail. Meltzer completed the feat in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes, surpassing the previous record set by ultra legend Scott Jurek by just about a day. There really aren’t a lot of records that can come down to an entire day, are there? Meltzer’s feat is certainly inspirational and is probably made even moreso considering his fuelling strategy along the way. According to the New York Times:

    “…he capped each night with one or two beers and left from rest stops with rainbow-colored Spree candy, Three Musketeers chocolate bars and bacon in his pockets. To save time and keep his energy up, he typically slept less than seven hours a night and instead had an energy drink every 10 miles, downing about five a day. When on another day his support crew found him napping, they gave him a pint of ice cream for a boost.”

    Karl Meltzer is greeted by Scott Jurek as he sets the new record for fastest supported thru-hike on the Appalachian. Image via the New York Times.
    Karl Meltzer is greeted by Scott Jurek as he sets the new record for fastest supported thru-hike on the Appalachian. Image via the New York Times.

    Meltzer’s record is recognized as the fastest supported thru-hike, meaning that the 48 year old was met along the way at designated checkpoints by a crew who would ensure he had the supplies needed to complete his task, supplies such as ice cream and beer in this case. Meltzer’s progress was tracked using GPS by sponsors Red Bull to verify his time on the trail.

    Just a day after Meltzer hit the finish, greeted by Jurek, hiker Kaiha Bertollini claimed to have set the record for fastest unsupported thru-hike, meaning that she carried her gear on her own and was not met by any type of crew along the way. Bertollini claims a finishing time of 45 days, six hours, and 28 minutes. That would not only smash the previous record for an unsupported hike – 53 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes – but would also slightly edge out Meltzer’s time.

    Bertollini’s hike, however, was not officially recorded via GPS tracking. Instead, Canadian Running reports,  “Bertollini posted photos to Facebook along the way that are time-stamped indicating her location. Besides that, there is little information to verify her claims.”

    There’s no denying that both Bertollini and Meltzer accomplished something incredible, but aspiring record breakers might want to take heed. When it comes to records, proper verification and data are essential. If a record is broken and no one is there to verify it, was it really broken?