Courtney Campbell Sets New

Long Trail Speed Record

Courtney's Complete Account can be found here.

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At 5:11 AM on July 30, 1998, Courtney Campbell, an ultrarunner from Berryville, Va set out to break the speed record on the Long Trail in Vermont. 5 days, 14 hours, and 55 minutes later he emerged from the woods at the Vermont/Massuchusetts border. He had indeed broken the previous record of 6 days 6 hours and 50 minutes, held by Sam Swisher-McClure.

The Long Trail is located in Vermont. It runs north to south, border to border, for a length of 271 miles. It is the oldest continuously maintained trail in the United States, and it is essentially divided into two different sections.   The northern section is the hardest. The southern section is somewhat easier as it is also the Appalachian Trail. Unlike most other records attempts on this trail, Courtney  ran from north to south which allowed him to tackle the harder/rougher section first.

Courtney was crewed by his father, Kennan Campbell, and David Horton.

For pictures go here

Before Courtney left he wrote a brief article "Why Run the Long Trail"  Please take the time and check it out. I think you will find it interesting. Courtney's complete account can be found here.

 

Below you will find brief reports that were written after receiving calls from Courtney's crew.

Report #1 - July 30, 1998 (11:00 am)

Received a call from David. Courtney started this morning at 5:11am. As of 10:32 am he had covered 19 miles.

Trail conditions were as expected. Rocky, lots of roots, and muddy.

Weather conditions were excellent, cool and overcast.

David ran the first 12 miles with Courtney and is expected to go another 26 later this afternoon.

We should receive another report later this evening when Courtney finishes. He traveled at approximately 4 miles per hour for the first 19 miles and hopes to continue this pace. By maintaining that pace the 63 miles he has planned for today will take almost 16 hours, which will have him finishing at approximately 9:00 pm tonight.

Report #2 - July 31, 1998 (9:00 am)

David called early this morning and updated us on yesterday's events. All went well until the last 11 miles.

Courtney left at 7:40 pm to complete the last 11 mile section of the 62.7 mile day. Several problems arose that slowed his pace to the point that he did not finish this 11 mile section until 1:05 am.

The first problem was rain. David said it was extremely hard and caused the trail conditions to deteriorate more than they already were. The second problem was fog and the third problem was trail markings. Apparently this particular section goes through at least one ski area around Stowe. Going through this area in the dark would have been hard enough, but when the rain and fog were factored in, Courtney could not find where the trail went and was "lost" for an hour and a half.

David and Kennan were very concerned because the temperatures had dropped, and Courtney would have been in big trouble had he been injured and not able to continue. David was going to go and look for him, but he had already fallen once during the day and hurt his "Hardrock" broken finger. The trail was very steep, slick and muddy and certainly Courtney did not need the complication of David having a messed up finger to complicate matters further.

David and Kennan were waiting at Smugglers Notch and finally Courtney emerged from the trail at 1:05 am this morning. They stayed at a hostel that is about one mile off the trail. Fortunately they were able to get a good pasta meal even though it was extremely late.

Despite the setback in the last 11 miles, Courtney did not have any physical problems and they were up this morning at 6:00 am. They have amended their schedule for today and are planning on covering only 47 miles. This could change as the day goes along, but David said that was the plan as of this morning.

Report #3 - August 1, 1998

Yesterday, July 31st, Courtney did the 47 miles as planned. The day was pretty uneventful, but long. Start time was 4:30 am and finish time was 12:49 am. On a personal note though, after he finished Courtney was able to call his wife at 1:05 am and wish her a happy anniversary. I trust she didn't mind.

Today started at 6:15 am and the temperature was 44 degrees. Weather today was ideal. Clear and cool. Everything was going real well until a wrong turn/miscalculation by the crew. (Maybe David should stick to running) They were supposed to meet Courtney at 11.6 miles but he arrived before them.  After waiting for a short time, and they still did not show up, he proceeded on. Not a real problem, except the next road crossing was 17.6 miles further down the trail.  Courtney had some supplies and did not have a real problem. Once the crew realized they had missed Courtney (thanks to a hiker who had seen him) they went to the next road crossing and David went back with some aid. Just enough of a "glitch" to keep things interesting.

As of 4:25 pm when we received our update Courtney had covered 28.9 miles. The plan is for a total of 49.8 which will put them about 9 miles north of Sherburne Pass/Highway 4 near Rutland and Killington,  VT. Assuming that is the stopping point there will be 111.8 miles to go and 105 of that will be on the Appalachian Trail. This will make the going a bit easier.

The big question tomorrow night will be whether to stop or continue through the night. Pros and cons both ways. I'm sure Courtney's condition at the time will be a major factor.

Physically Courtney has some blisters and muscle soreness but no major problems. Today is the mid-point so as they say, "it is all downhill from here."  Easy for all of us sitting at home to say, right.

One interesting side note. If you read Courtney's "Why Run the Long Trail" you might remember he made the statement about his wife hoping he would hate it so bad that he would never try the AT record. As of today it appears her wish has come true.  Courtney said he will never attempt the AT record. Time will tell.....

Report #4 - August 2, 1998 (2:30 pm)

David called this morning and gave us a complete summary of yesterday and the plans for today. On Saturday Courtney actually did 53.7 miles rather than the 49 planned. Apparently there was a problem with a gate being closed that was supposed to be open.  This caused a problem for crew access. As it was, David ended up backing in the equipment for the night and they stayed at the Rolston Rest Shelter.

The day ended at 1:56 am and by the time they got in bed it was 2:15. The temperatures have been in the low 40's at night and Courtney said he really did not get much sleep. They were up again at 5:15 and on the trail by  5:40.

The plan for today is to go 50-60 miles. As of last night they had 107.9 left. If Courtney could come close to the 60 mile mark this would allow for "only" a 12-14 hour day on the final push to the end.

David had a few bits of trivia to tell this morning. One that some might find interesting had to do with Sam Swisher-McClure. Last night when they stopped they were only about 5-6 miles from the point where the Long Trail and the AT join. When checking the register at the point of intersection, David noticed Sam's name. Apparently Sam is hiking the remainder of the AT to complete his "thru-hike" this summer. (Note - Sue Johnston, an ultrarunner from Vermont saw Sam a couple of days later and our assumption was not correct. He is just hiking around up there for a few days to "chill out" before school starts again in the fall.")

The other bit of trivia David was quick to point out was that while he was at Friendly's relaxing eating his waffles and drinking his coffee this morning,  Courtney was crossing over Killington Mountain. I guess crewing is not all that bad after all.

The question of going through the night came up and David felt it was a remote possibility but not likely. Courtney has been getting anywhere from 3-4 hours of sleep per night and even though this is not a lot it makes a tremendous difference in Courtney's ability to function the next day. After going for 4 days with little sleep Courtney will probably not be able to continue without getting at least a few hours of sleep.

Even without going through the night Courtney should finish in 4 days and approximately 12 - 15 hours which will pretty much destroy the old record of 6 days and 6 hours.  Of course all of this depends on no major problems or injuries, and as they say "it's not over until it's over."

Report #5 - August 2, 1998 - (11:00 pm)

Earlier today when I wrote "it's not over until it's over" little did I know what was transpiring on the trail. Today Courtney did 36 miles in 14 hours. He is struggling. The lack of sleep and 200 trail miles in 4 days have taken their toll.

David called around 8:30 and indicated they had stopped early because the pace had slowed so drastically that it was apparent that if Courtney was going to continue he needed to stop early, get a good meal and get more than a couple of hours of restless sleep. They had found a motel to stay at and were trying to "regroup."

There is 71.9 miles left. How long that is going to take remains to be seen. Tomorrow will tell a lot in regards to the final outcome.

Report #6 - August 3, 1998 - 2:30 pm

It is amazing what at good night's sleep can do. Courtney is doing much better today. He started at 6:22 am and had covered 17.5 miles by 1:45pm. This put him at the intersection of VT 11 & 30 at Manchester Center. Those that followed Andrew Thompson's record attempt on the AT at the beginning of the summer might remember this is where Andrew stopped.

Courtney is mostly walking because today the length of time in hours is not significant. If he takes 12 hours or 18 hours it is still one day. Tomorrow is the day when hours become important. So today he is walking to try and recover enough so that tomorrow he can run.

Those that are familiar with this section of the AT/Long Trail are probably aware of a tower on Bromley Mtn. David was with Courtney when they got to this point. David somehow convinced Courtney to make the effort and go off the trail and climb this tower. The view was spectacular. According to David on a clear day you can see 5 states.

Tonight they are anticipating staying in Arlington, VT after going a total of 37 miles. This will leave about 35 miles to go tomorrow.

Report #7 - August 3, 1998 - (11:00 pm)

Received a call from Courtney's father, Kennan Campbell. The final push to the end is on. Courtney, accompanied by David, is going through the night to finish the final 35 miles.

They have a 20 mile section that is going to be done without aid because there are no road crossings until Vt 9. This road crossing is 14.4 miles from the Vermont/Massachusetts border and the end of the Long Trail.

The pace is slow but steady and they anticipate completing the trail late tomorrow morning.

Report #8 - August 4, 1998 - (1:15 pm)

We all know that in any athletic contest or endurance event there is such a thing as "momentum."  To say the momentum has changed would be an understatement, and unfortunately for Courtney it has not shifted in his favor. The trail and fatigue, in addition to just plain being beat up, are winning. Courtney is still moving but the pace is so slow that he will be fortunate to break the six day barrier.

David called and said the only way to describe what
Courtney looked like was to compare him to a hundred year old man crossing the street.

At 11:30 this morning Courtney had 14 miles to go. He was at VT 9. During the night Courtney did stop along the trail to sleep a little bit. In fact, as David was hiking back in to bring some breakfast some hikers reported that Courtney was laying in the middle of the trail asleep.

How this ends up is anybody's guess. Stay tuned.

Report #9 - August 5, 1998 - (8:21 am)

NEW LONG TRAIL RECORD - 5 days 14 hrs 55 min

After making a homestretch comeback by doing the last 14.3 miles in 8 hrs and 44 minutes ( not bad for a 100 year old man ) Courtney finished last night at 8:06 pm.

Other than sleeping some in the middle of the trail the final push was over 37 hours. We will have a final report by Courtney some time in the next week or so. Keep checking back.

To add insult to injury though when Courtney finished he really wasn't finished because he had to walk another 3 miles out to where the car was. In typical Horton style this turned into an "adventure" as well. David went ahead to try and get the car closer by going to another road but while doing that he got lost. His flashlight went out and the trail is rather vague. Finally he ran into a hiker and got back to the road.

They got to the car at 11:11 pm but of course they were in the middle of nowhere and they needed some good rest. To make a long story short they finally found a motel in Hudson, NY and got to bed at 3:30 pm.

David said he was impressed with the way Courtney did at the end. He truly "sucked it up" and was actually running some towards the end despite the fact that he was absolutely trashed, both mentally and physically.

How strong is that record? We will see later this month. Scott Grierson, aka Maineak, is doing the Long Trail to attempt to break Courtney's record.

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Now a word from our sponsor. You knew I couldn't get all the way through these reports without giving a plug for A Quest for Adventure. Seriously though, it is interesting how all of these long distance record attempts take on a similar feel. No matter who is running/hiking there are no supermen out there. Everybody struggles at some point or another. There are ups and there are downs. Injuries and pain occur. Emotions waver.

If you have enjoyed following this saga you will certainly enjoy reading A Quest for Adventure.

Please note one thing. The writing in the book is a whole lot better than what I can do. So don't judge it by what you read here. Click on the picture of the book to read excerpts and learn more about getting a copy for yourself or a friend.

 

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