Long Trail Speed Record
The NEW speed record for the 271 mile Long Trail is 4 days, 22 hours, and 54 minutes.
June 8, 1999, I will be attempting to break my
Report 1 - June 9, 1999
We received a phone call at about 10:30 PM last night from Fred Pilon. David had started at 4:30 AM and was making good progress. His average miles per hour was a little slower than the 3.5 he wanted to go. That was a little disappointing, but just meant he would be on the trail some extra time. When Fred called he was at the hostel where they would stay for the night. David had started the final 12.6 mile section at 8:30 PM. This is the section where Courtney had gotten lost last year. Ralph Swenson was going with David through this section. This 12.6 miles is extremely difficult and David was anticipating it taking 4.5 hours.
The trail conditions were wet (as usual) but could have been much worse. The temps were in the 80's which is much warmer than David had hoped, but there was a breeze. It was overcast so in reality heat had not played too much of a factor.
They were anticipating starting at 5:30 AM today. (Wed)
Below is an additional 1st hand account of the first day (Tuesday) from Dot Helling.
Received via e-mail on Wednesday (Day 2)
Hi Gary and Rebekah,
2nd Report - 10:20 PM June 9
Despite getting to bed around 3:00 AM David started again this morning at 6:19 AM. The mileage for the day was scheduled to be 45.3. As of 7:00 PM he had 10.5 miles to go, but because of the difficulty of the trail he probably would not finish until around midnight.
Conditions today were better than yesterday. Some rain in the morning but temps were in the 60's and overcast. The trail was still quite wet but rather than the normal 6 inches of water there was just a couple of inches of mud.
Sue Johnston was with David the majority of the time today, with Fred and Peter taking up the slack and bringing in supplies from the infrequent road crossings.
Tomorrow is the important day. If David can complete the 59.1 miles as planned without being totally trashed the last couple of days might be possible. Naturally the lack of sleep will begin to play a role and of course he needs to remain free of injuries.
The following was written by Sue Johnston who was with David most of Day 2
I spent a fun day with David, Fred and Peter yesterday & got in a good training hike.
On Tuesday evening around 9 p.m. my husband Mike dropped me off at the State Ski Dorm/Hostel, where the gang was supposed to be staying. Peter & Fred soon arrived & relayed David's progress. After going over the next day's route, we all turned in for the night. Around 2:30 a.m. I was awakened by the sound of a car, then a voice mumbling something about "Madonna Peak." Peter & I got up and heated David's supper, but he couldn't eat hardly any of it, instead opting for a can of Ensure.
The next morning David & I started up Mansfield at 6:19 a.m. We had the summit ridge to ourselves, except for 2 rabbits. The mountain was completely socked in, so David didn't get any views from Vermont's highest peak. The trail down the other side of the mountain cannot adequately be described in words--"Wet, rough & slippery" just don't do it justice! It's one of those things that you just cannot understand unless you've been there. Consequently the going was slower than we had hoped.
Fred met us about a mile north of Nebraska Notch--He had hiked up a side trail and brought food & water. He continued on with us for a couple of miles before turning back toward the Lake Mansfield Trout Club. The next few miles went something like this: [David] "Sue, what's the next section like?" [Me] "Oh, a bunch of ups & downs," or "I can't remember; I haven't done this section in 10 years." We joked about how the LT was so rough in sections that even Vermonters (i.e. me) didn't hike it but went to the White Mtns. instead. But then I told him how we Vermonters are actually quite proud of the fact that the LT is "unimproved," wild and rugged.
Peter and Fred were waiting at Bolton Notch Road with food & drink. David & I made pretty good time on the next section--to Jonesville--as the trail was drier and more runnable. David laughed at me when I screamed at a mother grouse that charged me with her wings outstretched, trying to protect her babies. Once we hit the road just above Jonesville, I opted for a short break, and David ran the next ~4-mile section across the river & down River Road to the foot of the Bamforth Ridge Trail. Fred kindly let me use his cellphone to call Mike so I could tell him that we wouldn't be finishing until 11 or 12 p.m. Lucky for me I got Mike's voicemail at work! ;-) Otherwise, he might not have agreed to get me at that hour!
Peter, David & I started up Bamforth Ridge around 3:30 and reached the top of Camel's Hump--a 6.2 mile, almost 4000 foot climb--by 6 p.m. Once again we had the summit to ourselves! Peter continued on with us to Montclair Glen Lodge, where Fred waited with flashlights, food, water and of course a couple of cans of David's "old-fart food," Ensure. We had 10.5 miles to go, & the first mile was a friendly little 1000 foot climb up Mt. Ethan Allen. Then came Ira Allen and then beautiful Burnt Rock Mtn. We made really good time, going about 2.5 MPH. This doesn't sound very fast, but, again, you cannot really know what it's like until you've hiked the Long Trail!
At Cowles Cove Shelter around 9 p.m. we finally had to turn on the lights, and our progress slowed a little, but still we made good time to Huntington Gap. At this point we had 2.6 miles to go, about half of it which was UP. David and I remarked how we actually did the last climb of the day faster than the first, and neither of us was sleepy. Fred & Peter met us a little over a mile from Appalachian Gap & were a welcome sight because we knew we were almost done for the day. We reached the road at about 11:30 p.m., and Mike was waiting there for us. David, Peter & Fred stayed at the Hydeaway Inn, & Mike & I drove home, arriving at about 1 a.m.
It was a lot of fun, & I wish I could've stayed with them through to Massachusetts; however, work & home beckoned! I am confident of David's ability to break the existing LT record. As Dot said, he's remarkably good at tending to his needs, pacing and staying focused, and he was a joy to spend the day with.
Now to get caught up with my work!!
3rd Report - June 11, 1999 10:00 AM
We received a call from Peter around 9:30 PM last night.
David's day had started at 4:36 AM and he had covered 38.4 miles by 6:35 PM. The schedule for yesterday called for a 59.1 mile day. David, along with Fred Pilon had started the last 20.7 mile section at 6:35 PM. There were no road crossing in this last section and it was probably going to be in the early hours of the morning when they finished. As of this writing we do not have any details concerning when they finished last night.
Everything is going according to plan other than the hoped for 3.5 mile pace is not happening. This does not prevent the days mileage from being done, it just forces more hours on the trail. More hours on the trail also means less sleep. Other than the lack of sleep, Peter said David is doing well. He has no injuries and is continuing to eat well. The problem of lack of sleep will show up today and tomorrow.
At the end last night they had completed the rougher section of the Long Trail. Starting today the Long Trail is also the Appalachian Trail which is better maintained and the terrain is not quite so rough.
4th Report - 11:45 PM Friday, June 11th
We only received a brief update tonight. David had started at 5:37 AM and finished the 48.1 miles as planned at 10:16 PM. Barring any major problems tomorrow will be the final day. He has 54 miles remaining.
He is experiencing very bad blisters that bothered him all day today, but despite that made better time than the previous day.
Peter said he is in good spirits and should be able to get more than the normal 3-4 hours sleep.
5th Report - 8:20 AM Sunday, June 13th
We recieved a call from David's wife Nancy this morning with the finishing times. We will have to wait until David returns home in the next several days to give a full report.
David started at 4:44 AM on Saturday and ended at 3:24 AM on Sunday morning. He had started at 4:30 AM on Tuesday which gives a cummulative time of 4 days, 22 hours, and 54 minutes.
More details to follow in a couple of days.