FKT meets Jerry Springer


from YouTube

Just last year about this time, I wrote about how I suspect yet another high-profile FKT attempt will be made in 2016. And the usual yammering will be done about how a FKT is not true to the spirit of the trail” or “how it is an amazing athletic achievement”.

I was correct.

A well-known ultra-runner broke the record.  And received some mainstream press. And the same chorus as last year was sung.  Can’t wait for 2017… 😉

A year later, I still have the same reaction: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I rejoiced this past winter when the Broncos were in the Superbowl because it meant no traffic…

Growing up, we spent Sundays around our grandparents’ kitchen table and I honestly can’t remember watching any sportsball event there…

And next Sunday when I am off my electronic leash I hope to enjoy my favorite season with some sort of outdoor jaunt.

I can appreciate, and even admire,  the athletic achievement. But it has as much to do with my interest in the outdoors as a so-called “reality cooking show” has to do with Grandma Magnanti’s Sunday dinners: A superficial resemblance but nothing like how I experience or enjoy something.

That’s not to say FKTs are wrong or incorrect. I just find them uninteresting , boring even.  Meh.

Then again, there is a reason why Baskin Robbins sells 31 flavors.  It would be a boring world if  we all liked chocolate ice cream only.  (A good pistachio is my personal favorite.. 🙂 )


Or, to put it another way “Just because I like pistachio, that does not mean chocolate sucks”. From Yelp.

But FKTs, and the modest internet fame and possible money it directly or indirectly generates, are gaining popularity.

More people are writing on various FKT sites to declare their attempts.   The very informal grassroots nature of these attempts is becoming more formal. And people will be coming out of the woodwork.

All kinds of people apparently.

The quick version of this latest act is that an unknown hiker/runner allegedly beat both the traditional thru-hiker record AND the supported record by quite a bit. But with no verification, possible holes in her stories and other possible evidence of some potential shenanigans.

The latest act in this circus can be read in detail on Outside online.   EDIT: As others have pointed out rightfully, the Outside article is crap. This Gear Junkie article is better.

This hiker/runner may very well become the Rosie Ruiz of FKTs. Or not.

So what does this all mean?

  • The informal and grass-roots nature of the FKT community erodes even more.  A SPOT or GPS device will become mandatory to validate all attempts and the information will have to be made public on some level.
  • Though there is a modest amount of fame/money to be made on these FKTs, it is there.  The Boston Marathon did not award money until 1986. We are just starting to see the money aspect (again, admittedly modest) becoming a part of the FKT scene. And a FKT certainly helps a person gain “cred” to get sponsored even if there is no money involved initially. See above about more verification being needed.
  • The latest act shows a lot if interest in these FKTs.  Call it an outcome of social media, but FKT attempts have become akin to the Sunday football games  most people watch [1]:   A spectator sport to pass the time and something that holds interest.    
  • For most people?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   Nothing, really. Some parks or other areas may get stricter about allowing organized FKT crews  or similar on their lands. And permits or similar for support crews depending on how large the crews may be.  Otherwise? Well, it is not just curmudgeonly guys in Colorado who would rather do their own thing than read about someone doing theirs… 😉

I have a good feeling, however, something else will happen in 2017. And 2018. And 2019. And so on.


[1] We were eating braciole and ravioli on a Sunday instead I suspect.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Clay Bonnyman "Pony" Evans

I find the FKT stuff fun to read about, but hardly relevant to my hiking experience – no more so than, say, the Broncos’ Super Bowl win. That said, this young woman claiming the records (both supported and self-supported) couldn’t possibly be more full of shit. She really has no leg to stand on. The evidence is all against her, whether it’s her physical condition, the numerous reports of her lounging about smoking and partying along the way, the lack of any sort of documentation, even a guy who gave her a ride coming forward to call her a liar.… Read more »

Just bill
Just bill
7 years ago

Outside article was nearly as shitty as Zach Davis’s craptastic efforts. Outside spelled Peter Bakwin’s name wrong. Why is it that you can crank off an objective blog replete with fancy character text guys eloquently shrugging an “professional” media outlets can barely spell AT or do enough homework to post credibly on a forum?

All I know is I want some pistachio gelato now.
Maybe 99 bottles of beer and a battlestar marathon too.

Wait, it’s time for the Super Bowl already?

Clay Bonnyman Evans
7 years ago
Reply to  Just bill

I’ve been good friends with Peter since fifth grade. Pretty bad that this writer couldn’t get his name right.

I couldn’t find an email address for her, but I did send an email to the editor asking them to fix the egregious error, noting that it “does not reflect well on the magazine.”

And I agree that overall, the story was just terrible, particularly in its effort to be “fair and balanced” in a situation that is much more clear-cut than it is portrayed.

7 years ago

For not caring about FKT’s, you certainly spend a lot of time discussing them 🙂

Peter Bakwin
Peter Bakwin
7 years ago

Paul I wish you would reopen the WB thread. Since closing a bunch of stuff has been pushed to the FKT site which would be better discussed there. WB is the appropriate forum.

(Hi Clay – I already complained to the reporter about inaccuracies. They seem more concerned about speed of publication than accuracy. Hey, congrats on your AT, huge hike!)

Clayton Bonnyman Evans
Reply to  Peter Bakwin

Thanks, Bawkin! I am both glad I did the AT and glad to *have done* the AT, if you catch my meaning. When I started in the spring I really had no plans to finish this year, but I guess I’ve grown a little obsessive in my old age. Funny, pretty much all the Westerners I met on the trail were like, “Yeah, I’m glad I’m doing it, but I’m kind of mad about it, too – no switchbacks, endless days of ‘green tunnel,’ etc. etc.” I told Jody I would refrain from doing a long trip next summer, but… Read more »