In search of a new type of running event to bring to your community? If you’re near mountain ranges, state or national parks, expansive trails or even the Grand Canyon, you might want to consider looking into what The Washington Post is hailing as the latest running trend.
It’s an “endurance feat at warp speed” that began to take root a few years ago and is referred to as “fastest known time,” or “FKT.” Warning: Be careful where you pronounce that acronym.
FKTs “have captured the imagination of an increasing number of trail runners, climbers and mountaineers,” according to the Montana Standard. “Social and mainstream media now create attention for the once largely solitary figures and audiences for their accomplishments — and sponsorship dollars sometimes follow.”
According to Shawn Bearden, an avid trail runner and physiology professor at Idaho State University, the development of lighter gear, the increase in popularity of distance running and the ability to track progress online have contributed to the evolution of FKTs.
“It’s competitive, but the other side of the coin is it’s impromptu,” Tim Freriks, an FKTer who ran from the Grand Canyon’s North Rim to the South rim in an unbelievable two hours and 40 minutes this year, told the Montana Standard. “You’re out there alone a lot of the time. There isn’t much publicity. It feels more pure.”
Not all FKTs are established in a matter of a few hours. Joe McConaughy, 26, ran the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail earlier this year in 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes — leaving the old FKT mark in the dust by more than 10 hours. Ashley Nordell smashed the FKT on the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail by almost four hours. Kilian Jornet, 29, did something arguably even more amazing: He raced up Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, without oxygen tanks or fixed ropes, twice in the same week. Those feats took him just 26 and 28 hours.
“In 2017 alone, runners have established records at popular locations such as Denali, New Hampshire’s Presidential Traverse and several of Colorado’s “14ers” — mountains with elevation[s] of at least 14,000 feet,” reports The Washington Post.
There’s an online community of fastest known time participants that tracks records and establishes a protocol for documenting records, and the recently established “FKT of the Year Awards” are giving the sport added credibility.