Warm long summer days and no races to train for, what’s an ultra trail nerd to do for fun? Find an official local loop and run it as fast as you can seem to be the answer to that question. Over 1700 record breaking times have been uploaded to fastestknowntime.com this year, most of them will be first attempts at nettle infested back water trails but there has also been some stand out performances on major rounds giving us mortals some quality dot watching entertainment and inspiration to take on challenges of our own.
BETH PASCALL - Bob Graham Round, Supported ~ 66 miles / 8200 m - New Record 14:34:26
The most legendary out of the holy British round trinity is this 66 mile loop across 42 peaks of the Lake District. Starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall it takes in 8200 m of elevation and a fair bit of rugged terrain along the way. The BGR is not a national trail or even a way marked path, the idea is that you choose your own ideal route up and down the 42 peaks and try to make it back in 24 hours to receive a free pint from the pub opposite the finish line stoop. In other words its not something you do on a whim.
When the event cancellations stacked up back in early spring and it became clear that there would not be a summer of racing Beth Pascall decided to turn her focus in training from WS100 and UTMB to an FKT attempt on the Bob Graham round. The previous record (15:24) was set in 2016 by Jasmin Paris who in her turn shaved over 2 hours off Nicky Spinks time (18:06) from the previous year.
On the 24th of July Beth set out in a record breaking pace that no one thought she’d be able to keep but with an incredible day and two performance hungry legs she went far beyond her goal of a 15:20-ish finish and broke the sub 15 hour barrier with a time of 14:34:26 (the 5th fastest time OA and just 100 minutes off Kilians record time!!). Insane performance from Beth Pascall! We know that Jasmin Paris followed up her 2016 BGR run with breaking the records on the other two rounds (Paddy Buckley- and Ramsey Round) and in a recent interview with irunfar Beth hints that she has more adventure plans up her sleeve, here’s to hoping that she will follow in Jasmins footsteps later in the summer!
Read Byron Powells post record round interview with Beth here:
SARAH HANSEL - Nolan 14, Unsupported ~80 miles / 12200 m - New Record; 57 hrs 43 mins 34 sec
Just like BGR the “Nolan 14” in the rocky Colorado state has no set route, the aim here is to climb all 14 summits before the 60 hour mark. In difference to the English fells this adventure runs on high altitude with a bit of mountaineering thrown into the mix so for a sea level living bird from South Carolina to take this on is no mean feat. Sarah Hansel set off on the 6th of July in perfect conditions and on a diet of Pringles, Stroopwaffles and mild hallucinations she made it across the peaks to Fish Hatchery 57 hours and 43 minutes later. She was greeted at the finish line by previous record holder Meghan Hicks (59:36)!
AUDREY TANGUY, 14 2000 des Bauges, 90 km / 9500 m - First Female recorded completion; 23 hr, 43 min.
You might have heard about Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz taking down Francois D’haene’s record on this route earlier this summer as it caused a bit of a stir. However, little has been mentioned about Audrey’s completion of the same route in the opposite direction, turning an already very technical challenge up to the extreme. Just a couple of weeks after Dunand-Pallaz’ record Tanguy set off to become the first female finisher of the loop around the summits of Bauges in an incredible sub 24. According to the interview in the link below Audrey has another FKT attempt up her sleeve for the end of the summer so keep your eyes peeled on those French Massifs!
SANDRINE BERANGER - GR 54, Tour de l'Oisans et des Ecrins, Unsupported, 118 miles / 12000 m - New Record; 1 day 16 hrs 40 min.
I couldn’t find any in depth reports of Sandrines impressive record on the Tour de l’Oisans in the South French mountains but if unlike me you are fluent in French (all i could make out was talk of hard last 40 k’s and pitstops for magnum and sorbet ...) you can read her own report here!
CANDICE BURT - Tahoe Rim Trail, Unsupported, 171 miles / 9448 m - New Record; 2 days 12:47:34.
In early July after receiving the news of Badwater’s cancellation Candice Burt decided to make lemonade out of lemons and set out to finish something she’d started three times before. The 171 mile long loop around Lake Tahoe on altitude between 1500-3500 m above sea level across the Sierra Nevada and Carson range. In the week before Candice was due to set off on her attempt Helen Pelster broke the previous Unsupported record with a time of 3 days, 03:44:13. That lasted for four days before Candice with a cracking run improved the female FKT to 2 days 12:47:34. Remains to be seen if anyone will have a go at Krissy Moehl’s supported record of 1 day 23:29 from 2015 before the end of the season!
SABRINA VERJEE - Wainwrights Round, Supported ~ 320 miles / 36000 m - First Female completion; 6 days 17:51
Although the humble Sabrina herself is of the opinion that her Wainwrights round should not count as a record due to “getting too much assistance with an injured knee” (she did take every step herself but needed to lean on pacers when the pain forced her to descend backwards) I do think that it’s an incredible achievement that deserves to be recognised. In July Sabrina became the first ever female finisher of the 214 fell long round in the Lake District. She set out to break Paul Tierny’s record of 6 days 6hr and 4 min and for the first days before the onset of knee pain an overall FKT was well within reach. Sadly as Sabrinas pain increased the record started to slip away and this is when she started to take help from her pacers to descend safely. It sounds like Verjee will be back for another crack at Tierny’s time soon and we are very much looking forward to that!
COURTNEY DAUWALTER - Colorado Trail, 500 miles
At the moment of typing Courtney Dauwalter is starting the second day of her 500 mile long Colorado Trail FKT attempt. Go CD!
Track Courtney’s progress herE: