ESTABLISH A PERSONAL “FASTEST KNOWN TIME”, AND BE CONTENT
(UPDATED; summer is a wonderful time to investigate new ways to find excitement and contentment in athletic endeavors. This post on FKT's is worth repeating. The possibilities are endless.)
An August 2018 article written by Whitney Spivey for running.competitor.com introduced me to “fastest know times” and the fact that there are people across the globe interested in setting them. It identified FastestKnownTime.com as a website that tracks the efforts of athletes taking on running and hiking challenges. The homepage world map shows the USA as having the most FKT routes; other concentrations are seen in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Additional web pages include: “Routes”, “Athletes”, “Articles”, “Add an FKT”, and “More” (FAQ, FKT Guidelines, FKT Verification, The Team, Support this site, Contact).
The list of “Latest FKTs” starts with the current month and extends back, 217 pages (10 entries per page), to the early 1960’s. Alex McPhail’s name is posted for completing the White Mountains Hut Traverse (NH) in 12hours and 11minutes in August 1963.
The pace of FKT achievements appears to be accelerating since 2008. At the time this post was written (going backward in time) page 24 contains the first entry for 2019, page 70 contains the first entry of 2018, page 97 the first entry for 2017, page 120 for the 2016, and page 141 for 2015’s first entry.
Calculations (simple subtraction) indicate that roughly 19 pages of FKT’s were filled in 2015, 23 in 2016, 27 in 2017, 46 for 2018, and with more than half the year left, 24 pages already filled in 2019. There are ~6.5 months remaining this year, which suggests that more than 48 total pages, possibly 500 FKTs, will be posted this year!
The running.competitor.com article isn’t about FKT’s but rather shines a spotlight on Swedish ultra-runner Emelie Forsberg, who “has made a name for herself by clinching fastest known times (FKT) across specific routes either supported or unsupported”. The FKT website confirms her elite status among this group of high achievers!
She is quoted by Spivey as saying, “For me [fastest known times are] what I was drawn to when I started to run in the mountains.” She goes on to explain that it was a spirit of adventure and curiosity to “see what was behind that summit, or on top, and then to see how fast I could go”, which initiated her FKT efforts.
Spivey describes the mindset and lifestyle of Forsberg, an accomplished athlete who “currently owns eight FKT records”* listed by FastestKnownTime.com, but who “encourages readers to be content before being competitive”. Fosrberg’s perspective extends beyond running and training it seems, to self-sufficiency, farming, and cooking in her book, “Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness, and Balance in Your Running”, recently published in the USA.
Are you interested in establishing an FKT? The FastestKnownTime.com website provides a great deal of information and guidance. Documentation and verification are extremely important for an official attempt at an FKT. It would seem wise to seek expert advice from an athlete who has accomplished one, and to check that all systems required to verify a feat are working perfectly beforehand.
Epic adventurers with travel plans anywhere in the world might check the location of FKT routes near an intended destination in advance. Possibilities for competition include setting a new one, but it also might be challenging to match a previous FKT, or just unofficially measure your own effort against the listed record.
New routes can be added to the FastestKnownTimes.com site as well, iInternationally, or in your own backyard. A unique feature of this challenge is that contenders aren’t constrained by past accomplishments. What and where a record has been set doesn’t necessarily define future records. The FAQ page suggests that “ideally, the route has some interest & integrity, be it aesthetic, historical, or otherwise”.
In scrolling through the published FKTs routes in areas familiar to me, I found that one had been established with a 1.5mile climb up the 3 tallest sand dunes at an Indiana Dunes State Park, with a hike of the 144 mile Buckeye Trail in OH, and a run of the 184 mile C&O Towpath from Maryland to Washington DC. The site indicates the Chicago Lakefront Trail is a common route for such efforts.
At the time this post was written, there were 2177 entries! It was entertaining to investigate who, where, and when the FKTs were achieved. The names of some well-known athletes and routes appear alongside the many not-so-famous. The Homepage also has “Articles” and “News” sections that detail ongoing or recent efforts, and “Comments” that include notices of failed attempts!
Although only formal running and hiking efforts are tracked by FastestKnownTime.com,
an alternative to setting an official FKT would be to follow the advice of Emelie Forsberg, and “be content before being competitive”.
Consider working toward a personal FKT in a familiar location on a route that has special meaning to you in the shortest possible time. You might broaden the kinds of effort that can be made to include walking or biking, climbing the killer stairway that leads to the top of a favorite scenic outlook, or the mounting the steps of all sections in a beloved stadium. Swimming, kayaking, or paddle-boarding around edge of a cherished local lake are potential venues for personal and unofficial FKT’s
An honest effort at accurate timing and course marking should be made. Apps with GPS tracking or personal tracker devices can be helpful, but informal methods might serve the purpose. Once you have recorded an initial personal fastest time, other successive attempts can be made to beat it; perhaps officially at some future time.
It’s inspiring to browse the list of FKTs to learn of the attempts that have been made to establish fastest times in a variety of locations on diverse routes. Some are renowned athletic feats, like running the Appalachian Trail, climbing the Matterhorn, and reaching the peaks of the Colorado ‘14ers’ mountains. Others are smaller efforts within regional parks or along traditional trails.
The kind of personal competition conceptualized by the FKT and espoused by Emelie Fosrberg embodies the spirit of Earned Runs. Our competition bibs are ‘symbolic of physical striving, accepting challenge, attempting to surpass previous efforts” on a personal level.
Although only new to me, it’s wonderful to discover the community of FKT competitors and the dedicated team that tracks their accomplishments.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
CHICAGO'S LAKEFRONT TRAIL Taken by PKSenagore August 23, 2017. All rights reserved.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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