June 19, 2015

Wonderland FKT Attempt is a Go!

This is the Wonderland Trail in Squamish, BC. It is ~ 93 miles shorter than the Wonderland Trail around Rainer :)

Well, it's time to make this thing official. On Wednesday, July 1st (Canada Day) I'll be starting in on the 150km journey around Mount Rainier with but one goal in mind, a new fully supported FKT (Fastest Known Time).

The current supported FKT was set by the one and only Kyle Skaggs way back in 2006. Kyle is most famous for having held the only sub 24hr Hard Rock 100m time, until some unknown Catalonian named Kilian showed up and rewrote the record books, as he's prone to doing. Kyle's 23h23m HR100 time stood as the HR100 course record from 2008 up until last summer.

Kyle's Wonderland time of 20h53m is so highly respected that it's almost feared. There have been few subsequent attempts at the supported record and a direct quote off of the FKT record boards states that "Skaggs' fast time may have discouraged others from attempting all-out, supported trips, as most subsequent efforts have been unsupported."

The Wonderland Trail is absolutely one of the most beautiful step for step trails in the entire world. I was fortunate enough to run it over a three day span with friends in October, and I subsequently ranked it the 2nd most beautiful adventure run I had completed, behind my four day tour of the UTMB course around Mont Blanc in 2012.
Just one of many stunning vantages on the Wonderland Trail.

The stats roll out as 150km with about 7500 meters of gain and loss, or 95 miles with just under 25,000ft. It - is - a - beast!

I've been dreaming of lining up for this attempt for a few years now, and a few things conspired to finally make the timing make sense. First off, I did not get into the Hard Rock lottery back in December. This of course was no surprise given my less than 4% chance of being drawn. Hard Rock happens on July 10th and I'll be road tripping down with a few friends and pacing Iker Karrera this year.

The second, and most important thing that happened, was that we got pregnant and our due date is August 12th. Given the uncertainty around the exact timing of these things it effectively eliminated a window of time in signing up for an alternate race to HR. I didn't want to take a chance on training my butt off for a specific race date only to have to forgo it due to an early baby arrival.

The third thing that lead to this attempt happening on July 1st is the unusually low precipitation year we're experiencing here on the coast in 2015. Higher trails are open months earlier than normal and most years you couldn't even entertain such an endeavour in late June or early July. This is the reason that most of the FKT records have been set in late August or early September.

I put the word out to a few friends a few weeks back and things started to roll pretty quickly. I have ended up with quite the dream team of friends in attendance, and Ethan Newberry aka The Ginger Runner, is even stepping up to do a full film project. No pressure right.

In no particular order, this is the crew who've confirmed they'll be joining me in some capacity, Ethan Newberry, Rich White, Jenn Love, Sam Drove, Yassine Diboun, Willie McBride and Jeff Pelletier. If nothing else, we're gonna have some fun out there in just 12 days time!

If you'd like to read up on the Wonderland Trail here are some great resources:

The National Park Service's elevation profile for the Wonderland Trail.
Yassine Diboun / Brian Donnelly's Unsupported 25h48m FKT trip report.
Krissy Moehl and Darcy Africa's woman's supported 22h22m FKT trip report.
Jeff Pelletier's sub 40hr unsupported trip report + his video journal.

My plan will consist of going the usual Longmire via a clockwise loop. July 1st will have about fifteen and a half hours of daylight and I plan to utilize most of them. As of today I'm planning to begin at 6am. This plan would only really be altered if we were looking at a weather forecast of unusually high daytime temperatures, like in the 33+ degree range as an example. Thankfully due to our early summer conditions this year I'm already fairly acclimated to the hotter temperatures. It would have to be an actual noticeable spike in heat on July 1st to alter the run plan at this point.

Not much more to say other than wish me luck, this thing is a go!



LukeD said...

Have a great time, Gary!

wch said...

Good luck! Sounds like you've got good help and preparation and I'm definitely looking forward to another Ginger Runner film. Here's the report of a buddy of mine when he established the then-FKT for an unsupported trip around Wonderland. His preparation was unconventional and totaled about 36 hours of thinking about it but he made it. http://www.isaiahjanzen.com/search?q=wonderland

Tim said...

Good luck and I will be looking forward to seeing your attempt. Just running it is a goal of mine. FKT, well that's for guys like you.

Unknown said...

That sounds like a great adventure with an even better crew. I would love to be involved let me know if there is anything else you need.

garobbins said...

Thanks all! Appreciate the support and well wishes. We're all dialed on the attempt but appreciate the offer to help out.