Long Trail Speed Record

The NEW speed record for the 271 mile Long Trail is 4 days, 22 hours, and 54 minutes.

Complete Article and Pictures

From David:

Starting on June 8, 1999, I will be attempting to break my
very good friend Courtney Campbell's Speed record of 5 days and 14 hours
to cover the 271 miles of the Long Trail.  As most of you know the Long
Trail is the oldest hiking trail in the U.S.  It runs from the Canadian
border down the middle of Vermont to the Mass. border.

I will have the outstanding crew of Fred Pilon ( editor of UltraRunning
) and Peter Gagarin ( former editor of UltraRunning magazine ).
They are very experienced ultra-runners and outstanding orienteers.

We will be driving to the Canadian border on June 7 and camping on the
border that night and starting very early the next morning and heading

The following is a tentative schedule. The goal is to beat Courtney's
time and if possible finishing on the 5th day.

Day 1:  Canadian border to Smuggler's Notch; 64.2 miles. Smuggler's Notch
is on VT. 108 outside of Stowe
              Lodging:   Vermont State Ski Dorm and Hostel ???

Day 2:   Smuggler"s Notch to Appalachian Gap; 45.3 miles.  App. Gap is
west of Irasville.
              Lodging:    Tentatively:  Mad River Inn which is 3 miles
east of App. Gap.

Day 3:   Appalachian Gap to Sherburne Pass; 59.1 miles.  Sherburne Pass
is on VT. 4
              Lodging:    Sherburne-Killington Motel

Day 4:  Sherburne Pass to Manchester-Peru Highway;  48.1 miles,  This is
on VT. 11and 30 east of Manchester
              Lodging:   Sutton"s Place in Manchester    ???

Day 5:  VT. 11 and 30 to the Mass.-VT. border,  54.4 miles
             Expected finishing time: ???????????? LATE


        1.  I'm concerned about the section between VT. 15 and VT. 108
over Whiteface Mtn. and Madonna Peak.  Courtney got lost there last year
at night and I will be going through this section late on Tuesday night.
This will be on day 1( June 8 )

         2.  In the 18.2 mile section between Jonesville and App. Gap (
over Camel's Hump )  Courtney and I had a lot of trouble following the
trail especially afer it got dark.   This will be during the second day   (June 9 )

         3. Water availability was very limited between USFS 71
and VT. 9.   This will be on day 5 ( June 12 )

          4. Places to eat late at night in these towns???????

           5. The best way to deal with blackflies????????

I know the challenge that lies ahead is going to be very difficult.  With
God's help ( Phil. 4: 13 and 19 ) and Fred and Peter and many of you
helping out it is possible.  If you are in that area try to catch up with
us and tell me how bad I look!!!!!!!

We will be calling back to Gary Trittipoe daily and giving him updates. We hope that you enjoy the reports.

In Christ
David Horton
( The Runner )
A.T. 1991
L.T. 1999 ???????????

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,
It has been raining here all day.  I live within 30 minutes of all
parts of the trail that David is running today.  I just tried to call
Fred on his Cellphone for an update but he is out of the service area,
meaning probably in the Valley between Bolton Mtn. and Camel's Hump.

At any rate, I was with Laura Farrell and Ralph Swenson running some
with David yesterday between Belvidere Mtn. and the Notch.  I dropped
Laura off at Belvidere and she ran with David and Peter and/or Fred for
four hours, while I went to pick up Ralph and deposit his car at the
day's end.  While getting Ralph, the skies opened up on the Notch but it
was still pretty clear where David was running.  Meanwhile David had
told us how slippery the going was all morning especially on the very
rocky sections up on Belvidere Mtn.  Ralph and I then ran with David
from Waterville to the base of the climb up to Mansfield, where Fred and
Peter left him at 8:30.  Laura and I also left as David and Ralph headed
off into the last and rugged 12 mile section.  As we drove away the
skies again opened up and it poured.  Luckily no lightning.

The section from Route 15 outside Jeffersonville to Smugglers Notch at
Route 108 is extremely rugged, rocky and steep.  We thought of them all
night and prayed for their safety.  Originally David had asked me to
lead him over but I was afraid I could not keep his pace.  As I found
out earlier, I was fine with him on flats and uphills, but he smoked me
on the downhills.  Ralph told me this morning that, even given what they
went through, David remained strong on the downhills and Ralph was
concentrating to keep up and not kill himself on the wet rocks.  They
were drenched through and through.

I felt badly when Ralph told me they got turned around on top of Madonna
Mtn. for about 20 min., probably the same area where Courtney was lost.
That is a section of the LT I know well but I think having Ralph Swenson
with him was a stroke of luck.  Ralph is an equivalent runner and
certainly was able to address any problem they might have faced.

Ralph said they returned to the Hostel about 2:30AM, which means the 12
miles took them about six hours.  When they left us at 8:30PM they were
still hoping for a midnight finish.  Ralph said the uphill was not so
bad but the downhill was treacherous and scary.  They stopped stepping
on logs because they were so slippery and just walked through all the
mudholes.  There is boardwalk on top but it was not so bad because of
it's width.  The downhill was hairraising and Ralph fell innumerable
times, with lots of cuts and bruises to evidence the ordeal.  At the top
of Madonna he said David was really cold and thoughts were given to
spending the night in the ski hut up there.  But they championed on.
Laura, Ralph and I all marvelled over David's focus and his incredible
ability to stay with his program - watch the trail, take care of food
and replenishment needs, etc.  And of course he has an incredibly
experienced crew.

Today's section is equally challenging and, given the rain and colder
temperatures, I am sending prayers his way all day.  Luckily he had Sue
Johnston lined to go with him over the rockiest, steepest sections -
this AM from the Notch to Bolton Mtn. and later up Banforth Ridge and
over Camel's Hump to the Appalachian Gap.  Both these sections are very
difficult even under the best conditions.  Before these rains started
over the weekend, the trails were as dry as they usually get in late
July and August.  However, after today, the topography will get easier
and the weather reports are very encouraging.  It will be a piece of
cake after these first two days.

When I last saw David at 8:30 last night he looked very well.  Although
he said it was not so, he looked energetic and in good health.  Ralph
said he was in good spirits throughout last night's ordeal, never losing
sight of the goal.

I will try to call Fred periodically, unless I see a report on your
screen first.  Feel free to contact me or Ralph if you want to know

Dot Helling

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

Hi Rebekah and Gary

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.

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