Without the burden of races, Colorado’s long-distance runners are shattering trail records
Fastest known times are exploding as runners use solo sufferfests to compete in the contest-killing era of social distancing
Jacquie Mannhard had long heard her fellow trail runners talk of fastest-known times. The prospect of tackling a gnarly route relatively unsupported had tickled the Boulder-based distance runner’s fancy for years, but she’d never gotten around to looking into it further.
Then the pandemic struck.
It was April when she got the first notice: “Given the uncertainty and severity of the situation,” the Silver Rush 50 Run in Leadville was off. Then “due to COVID-19” the Golden Gate Dirty 30 near Black Hawk followed suit. It was clear her racing season was going down the toilet, but that itch to test herself against fellow athletes remained.
“I realized the races were all being canceled, so I checked out the FKTs more seriously,” Mannhard said.” I thought it would be fun to do some summer objectives, and FKTs are the most reasonable way to compete virtually.”
FKTs, fastest known times, are just that: the fastest run or hike time recorded by anybody — ultrarunner or casual jogger — for a specific stretch of trail. Tackle a route but come up one second behind another runner? Well done, but don’t bother posting. “There are no second- or third-fastest listings; only the fastest [times], posted chronologically as they were completed,” reads fastestknowntime.com, a database tracking the speediest traverses of 2,328 routes worldwide.
Pre-COVID, FKTs were popular primarily among elite athletes “bored with running,” said Colorado trail running legend Buzz Burrell, who co-founded the FKT website. “Now it’s Tom, Dick and Sue. It’s just everybody.”
Runners from Canada to Croatia are lacing up their shoes, queuing up their GPS watches and hitting the trail. Worldwide, runners have snagged more than four times as many FKTs this year as last for the March 1 to July 16 time frame. In June and July alone, Burrell’s team logged 450 worldwide records, accounting for nearly 20% of all the FKTs the site has tallied since 2017.
Indeed, given that FKTs are typically solo attempts often on local trails, they present an ideal competitive outlet in the era of COVID-19, when everyone is encouraged to stay away from others and remain close to home.
“Races are essentially illegal right now,” Burrell said. “With a FKT, you can be out there and be socially distanced. It’s totally legal and totally safe to throw down and put your mark up.”
To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Glenwood Canyon likely to remain closed for ‘weeks’ as I-70 assessed, repaired following numerous mudslides
Interstate 70 will likely remain closed for several weeks, as Colorado Department of Transportation crews work to assess the extent of damage from several days of heavy rains and debris slides from the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar.