Update (July 17th): Kristian is no longer chasing the Appalachian Trail record. He fell behind the required pace and by day 10 had conceded that the record was beyond him. Rather than carrying on up the 2,189-mile trail, Kristian has now decided to focus his attentions on breaking the record in July 2020.
With this in mind, he has enlisted the help of Appalachian Trail legends Warren Doyle and David Horton, whom he has spent the last few days with. Warren advised him to travel north to New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, where he is going to spend more time checking out the trail in what is uncharted territory for him.
Kristian said: “The Appalachian Trail means more to me now than ever before. I have bled, cried, laughed, been happy, depressed, and experienced every human emotion possible.”
PRE-ATTEMPT BLOG POST
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most iconic long-distance hiking routes in the world. Every year thousands of hardened thru-hikers challenge themselves to complete the mountainous 2,189 miles through 14 US states, with most of them taking between 5 and 7 months to do so. Yes, it is that tough.
With every year that passes there also seems to be an ambitious attempt by a trail runner to negotiate the point-to-point Appalachian Trail (known as the AT) in a time faster than any of his/her peers that have gone before them. This year that person is Kristian Morgan.
The 42-year-old from London has been planning his own attempt ever since helping Belgian dentist Karel Sabbe set the current record time last year. Karel ran and fast-hiked northbound over the trail in a total time of 41 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes. Amongst those to have previously held the record are ultramarathon running legends Scott Jurek and Karl Meltzer.
Having witnessed close-up how Karel did it (he supported him for 15 days on the trail), Kristian has meticulously prepared, with the help of AT veterans like Warren Doyle, a schedule that would see him do it in 40 days or less. It is a huge challenge that Kristian has set himself, with an average of 55 miles a day required, but he is confident of making history.
The secret weapons
Kristian’s “secret weapon” will be revolutionary inov-8 graphene shoes, giving him the world’s toughest grip for the world’s toughest trail running challenge.
Lee Procter, inov-8 Global Communications & Ambassadors Manager, said: “We were looking for the ultimate in tough trail running challenges to test our new graphene footwear when Kristian approached us about a world record attempt on the Appalachian Trail. It quickly became the perfect fit.
“The AT mountain terrain is notoriously tough on shoes, with the rough ground shredding outsoles and most runners using 10 pairs or more. Our pioneering rubber outsoles infused with graphene – the world’s strongest material – will give Kristian the toughest grip and the best chance at achieving his goals in fewer pairs of shoes.”
Kristian, who starts his attempt on July 1st, will wear the soon-to-be-released inov-8 TRAILROC G 280 shoes and/or the popular ROCLITE G 275. He will also use the award-winning RACE ULTRA PRO 2IN1 VEST throughout, giving him multiple options in terms of how to carry his kit and how to store water flasks & poles.
The equivalent of 16 x Mount Everest
If he is successful in beating Karel’s time it will be an official Guinness World Record. To do this, Kristian will have to run and fast-hike the planned 55 miles a day, sleep between 5 and 7 hours a night and consume approximately 8,000 calories a day. Along the way he will have to ascend the equivalent of 16 times Mount Everest… and do it all in less than 6 weeks.
To put it into perspective, Kristian will attempt to run back-to-back marathons, plus a little more, every day, covering a distance equal to two-and-a-half completions of Land’s End to John o’ Groats (the length of Britain).
Running northbound from Georgia to Maine on the Eastern side of the USA, Kristian will be supported throughout by his mum and cousin, who will drive ahead and set up overnight camps at scheduled stops.
“I decided long ago that I wanted to live a life rich in experiences over possessions, and I can think of no better experience than running the AT. It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime,” said Kristian, who has run 120+ marathons and ultramarathon events.
“I supported Karel when he set the record last year, spending 15 days on the trail with him. I also spent another 5 days on the trail earlier this year. I feel all this experience, coupled with the help I’ve had in planning from AT veterans, stands me in good stead to have a go at the world record.”
Looking out for bears!
Living out of a camper van in the heart of London for the last eight years and working as a self-employed ultramarathon coach, Kristian has done most of his training in and around England’s capital city, often running 100+ repetitions of a small hill near Crystal Palace.
He added: “Life on the AT will be very different to life in London, but I can’t wait to get going. I’ll start running at 4am each day in the dark and push on until reaching the overnight camp. I’m really looking forward to the peace and tranquillity, but less so the prospect of encountering bears and rattlesnakes. Meeting a bear in the dark is my biggest fear!”
*All photos within this blog post were taken during Kristian’s visit to the AT in May this year.