Good grief, what am I thinking?

I’m going to attempt to set the self-supported fastest known time (FKT) on the Mason-Dixon Trail. I will be starting at Whiskey Springs, the western terminus of the trail, on May 20th about 8am. This means I will try to cover the entire 200 mile trail on foot with no outside support in one continuous effort. Just me, the gear I start with, and whatever food/drink I can buy at stores along the way. I could cache supplies on the trail if I wanted, but there are enough stores along the route that I hope this won’t be necessary.

I’ve been kicking this idea around ever since I found out about the trail around five years ago. The attraction mostly falls into the “because it’s there” category. More specifically because it ends in Chadds Ford, PA which is about 10 minutes from my house. Sure, I’ll grant you that’s a pretty silly reason, but there really aren’t any good reasons to run 200 miles. In preparation for this attempt, I’ve managed to run/hike all the sections of the trail over the past 2 years. This in and of itself was a really cool project and further piqued my interest in attempting to run the entire thing in one go. I really enjoyed the variety of the trail sections. While some of them are relatively easy, many of them turned out to be much harder than I originally thought.

Goals

  1. Have Fun
  2. Set the official Self-Supported FKT – 8d 12h 27m (Robert Brosh Jr)
  3. Set the official overall FKT – 3d 12h 40m (Paul Melzer)

I went about the goal setting process a little different this time around. Normally, I would put my super aggressive A goal on top followed by a couple more realistic goals. Even though I enjoy my normal races (well, at times anyway), there’s always a strong underlying focus on performance. I may not be aggressively racing the other runners, but I want to do well timewise. My approach for this FKT attempt though is to treat it more as a celebration of my ultra career to date. I’m taking all of the training (physical and mental) and all of the experience (37 ultras with 16 being 100s) I’ve gained over the past 7 years and translating it into this one adventure.

Even though I’m attempting a FKT which literally has the word “time” in it, I’m also trying to downplay this aspect of it as much as possible. This will be far and away the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and I don’t want to be disappointed if my final time (if I finish) is above some random number I pulled out of thin air. At this point, I’ve got a pretty good idea what my 100 mile pace is. I have no idea what my 200 mile pace is though (fingers crossed I have one). Do I extrapolate my slowdown linearly? Or will I go straight from 16 minute miles to 30 minute ones? How much sleep will I need on the second (or 3rd) nights? And how many bonus miles will I require because I got lost? While the trail is well marked, the turns aren’t all idiot proof like they are in races which could add more time. Then there’s the steady accumulation of aches, pains, blisters, and chafing as I go along that will impair my performance. And on top of all that, I’m doing this with no outside support or help. It’s all completely and utterly on me to get from Whiskey Springs to Chadds Ford.

So really, time isn’t my #1 focus. Just finishing will be.

Live(ish) Tracking

I will be updating my progress throughout the run on my newly created Twitter account. Well, technically my wife is going to handle it. I’m going to text her my progress and she will tweet it out to the world. Yes, I could very easily do this from my phone myself. I’ve decided not to for a couple reasons.

First off, I don’t want to be bothered. I want to be focused on the experience itself rather than connecting with the wider world. I’m planning on texting my wife updates so she doesn’t worry quite so much about me. I also think having an editor would be beneficial as ultra-brain takes over towards the later stages.

And now I’m off to bed for some extra sleep. I’m going to need it come the 20th.

Here’s my goal.

2 thoughts on “Mason-Dixon Trail FKT Attempt Preview”

  1. Good luck!

    FYI
    Not my own runs, but I know he’s too humble to ever submit them. Eddie Pantoja has knocked the Mason-Dixon Trail out of the park multiple times, setting FKTs for Supported and Unsupported runs.

    Supported in 62:56:22, in a team effort with David Lantz in December of 2019: https://www.strava.com/activities/2952540415

    Supported in 54:35:51 in May of 2020: https://www.strava.com/activities/3494995204

    Unsupported in 77:52:29 in August of 2020: https://www.strava.com/activities/3957174418

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