Earlier today, I saw on my FB feed that Scott Jurek just completed a supported thru-hike (actually run) of the AT in a record 46 days, something hours and some more minutes. It got me thinking...what's the point? IMHO, it completely defeats the purpose of why I'm out there to begin with.
I did a day-hike a couple years ago in the Delaware Water Gap area of NJ and 3 of the 4 of us were actual hikers. The 4th was a walker, a speed walker at that. He saw nothing, appreciated nothing and blew past anything of note on the trail. What's worse, for some reason I felt compelled to try to keep up with him. It kinda ruined my experience, at which point I promised myself I would never allow someone else's pace to dictate mine. Hike your own hike.
So I ask - what do you think about the concept of speeding through a long distance hike just to set the speed record?
Did you know that 83.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot?
Loc: Washington State, King County
To paraphrase (and distort) Voltaire, "I do not agree with the way you hike, but I'll defend to the death your right to hike that way." In more modern parlance, HYOH.
Running the trail isn't for me personally, but I'm sure that while it loses some of what I like in hiking, it certainly must gain some good things in return. It's just a different style.
In terms of a trail runner who "saw nothing, appreciated nothing" --- I can't accept that as true. The only one to judge the perception of that runner is the runner him (or her)self. I've heard and read people say that long distance hikers have the same problem, treating the trail like a hiker freeway, wearing blinders, etc. It's all nonsense, spoken by people who haven't experienced it. I expect there are folks who hike even slower and take yet more and longer breaks who in turn feel that anyone hiking faster is not "doing it right".
Loc: San Diego CA
YOU pick the pace and style that keeps you going back for more. The pace can vary with who you are with. As long as you follow LNT practices, you are free to enjoy the backcountry in the style you wish.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
It's Jurek's breaking several of the rules at Baxter State Park (Mt. Katahdin) that has done a lot of harm. BSP management has been looking for an excuse to send the Appalachian Trail elsewhere (and they can do this because of the unique statutes under which they operate), and Jurek's messing up just gives them more justification.
To me, going for FKTs with all kinds of outside support, much of it mechanized, defeats the purpose for which hiking trails were built. I can see those who do it unsupported (like "Anish"), but not where everything is handed to the so-called "hiker" on a silver platter.
As far as trail running goes, it's fine as long as runners wait for me to get off the trail safely (harder for me to do as I get older and have increasing difficulties with my balance) and don't try to push me out of the way, which unfortunately has happened half a dozen times. Trail runners might also consider the safety issue. To most predators (such as mountain lions), if it runs, it's dinner!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
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