As of Aug. 27, ultrarunner and Red Bull athlete Karl Meltzer remains on pace to set a new record to finish the Appalachian Trail (aka the AT) in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes — or faster. Meltzer began his attempt on Aug. 3, but his time on the trail will stretch into September.
To break the record, he’ll need to reach the end of the 2,190-mile AT, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, on or before Sept. 17.
Meltzer, nicknamed “Speedgoat,” made his first attempt in 2008 before an injury on day 14 forced him to abort after 538 miles. (He still finished the AT in a total time of 54 days, 21 hours and 12 minutes.)
He tried again for the record during the summer of 2014, but quit after about 32 days.
Forty-eight-year-old Meltzer started his current attempt at Mount Katahdin, Maine, on Aug. 3, for his third and final try for the thru-hike speed record on the AT.
“It’s not only man versus clock, but man versus nature — and man versus self,” Meltzer has said.
Averaging more than 40 miles per day during the first week of his continuous run, he has since completed 1,211.2 miles — taking, as of the posting of this story, 2,392,199 steps at an average a speed of 3.28 mph and burning approximately 183,637 calories.
Meltzer is performing a supported run, crewed by a few very close friends and family members.
During the second week, Meltzer kept his average daily distance despite passing through a strenuous northern section of the trail near Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Cold air, dense fog and strong, gusty wind slowed Meltzer, adding longer running days and affording him less rest.
Week two continued to give Meltzer challenges with foot blisters as he traversed the White Mountains, which are known for their unforgiving terrain. As the week progressed, Meltzer entered the more forgiving topography of Vermont before moving on o Massachusetts and its highest peak, Mt. Greylock.
He wrapped up his second week of the trail with running over 47 miles on day 14.
Meltzer and his crew use SPOT satellite trackers to help them reunite at planned meeting points and for emergencies.
“Our crew mistook Beartown Mountain Road and Old Beartown Mountain Road as one in the same so we waited for Karl at the wrong stop,” said crew chief Eric Belz.
Fortunately, a stranger near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, offered him a jacket, a blanket and a floor to spend the night.
Meltzer got back with his crew the following day and knocked out several 53-mile days, passing major trail landmarks like the Dover Oak, the largest blazed white oak on the AT.
By day 19, Meltzer had made his way into New Jersey, and with New York and Connecticut in his rearview, he could focus on how best to combat the rising temperatures as he heads farther south.
Meltzer had run through New Jersey and Pennsylvania by week four, and he and his crew are feeling strong about the remaining hike and breaking the record. You can follow his progress in real time.
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