Appalachian Trail Endurance Record Attempt

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Andrew (left) with Eliza, David, and Reid. Taken after the Smoky Mountains Fun Run this spring.
Andrew Thompson is a 22 year old ultra-runner from Lynchburg. Andrew is originally from New Hampshire and has quite a bit of hiking and outdoor experience. His first ultra was the MMTR in 1995. He has completed 7 other ultras since that time.

His wife Amy and another friend John Basham will be his crew.

Interestingly, Andrew has plans to follow David's schedule until sometime in Pennsylvania. At that point he plans to add extra miles so that his ultimate finishing time will be 50 days. His guide book is essentially A Quest for Adventure, David's book about his experience in 1991. About the only difference in Andrew's plans and David's run is that Andrew does not plan on going as fast. Rather he feels that he will need to spend 14-15 hours per day on the trail compared to David's 11 hours.

Living in Lynchburg, Andrew has trained with David many times and has been a part of some of the infamous "Fun Runs."

We wish him well as he starts his "adventure" on May 9th.

May 11, 1998 - Report #1

Andrew started on May 9th as planned and completed the 37 miles of the first day with no problems. The second day called for 45 miles and the third was 39 miles. The only physical problems so far are sore feet. This next week will be crucial as the excitement of the run turns into the day to day hard work.

May 14, 1998 - Report #2

Days 4, 5, and 6 were completed as scheduled with one exception. The report that we received was that Andrew finished approximately 2 miles ahead of where David was on his sixth day.  The mileage for these days would be 41, 38, and 33. He finished day six where the A.T. crosses I-40 in Tennessee. The Smokies are behind him. No reports of any injuries so far.

We will have a more in depth report in a couple of days. David is going to "trail days" in Damascus, VA. Since David will only be about 65 miles from where Andrew is going to finish on Monday he will drive down to check his progress and condition.

May 17, 1998 - Report #3

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If you want to view other pictures click here. (Easier to view but with frames)

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David was able to catch up with Andrew on Sunday morning. David indicated he was doing well and really had not experienced any major difficulties so far. David went along with him for quite a while and said Andrew was walking very well uphill and just a little problem going downhills. The slowness going downhill was probably a result of some knee pain Andrew was feeling. Andrew's spirits were good. His wife Amy and a friend Brett Copeland are crewing him at this point. For those that might be on the A.T. as he comes along his trail name is "Trail Dog."  They are driving a red pickup with the license plate TRAIL DG. Keep an eye out if you are in the area as he comes through. He is currently 10.8 miles ahead of David's schedule, which at the end of nine days puts him at Iron Mountain Gap. This is 96 miles south of Damascus, VA where Trail Days is held.

As we had indicated earlier Andrew's plan was to follow David's schedule in regards to what was covered each day, but go at a slower pace. This is exactly what he has done. He is spending about 2-3 hours longer each day on the trail than David did.

As  mentioned earlier Andrew is doing well physically but he has lost about 7-8 pounds, but no other physical problems other than the slight knee pain.

At the end of Day 9 he has gone 356 miles.

May 24, 1998

Andrew has been in Virginia for several days. At the end of today he will have been on the trail for 16 days. He is 12.7 miles north of Pearisburg, VA. He has averaged 39.2 miles per day so far and has covered a total of 627 miles. This puts him 23 miles ahead of the schedule David had at this point in 1991.

Problems so far have consisted of some blistering and swollen feet. In fact he is now wearing size 12 shoes instead of the 10's he started with. Neither of these situations would be abnormal under the circumstances.

He did get caught in a rain/hail storm on top of Whitetop Mountain on Day 13. It also rained hard the next day as well.

David was coming back from Georgia this morning and had a chance to run/walk with Andrew for the first 5.5 miles. Mentally he is continuing to do well.

His pattern of having long days has remained the same. Several days he has gone into nightfall before quitting. As a result of finishing late he is not getting started until about 8 or 9 in the morning, but unseasonably cool weather has caused this to not be a problem.

May 26, 1998

On Day 17 (May 25, 1998) Andrew covered 21 miles. He is having blister problems that caused him to slow down and not cover as many miles. At the end of this day he was 2 miles ahead of the David's schedule. He finished the day at Rocky Gap, VA (Route 601)

May 28, 1998

Yesterday (May 27, 1998) David, Rebekah, and I (Gary) went down to Roanoke to see how Andrew was doing. He had stayed at Rt 311(Catawba) that night. The next road crossing would be at U.S. 220 in Cloverdale, VA., which would be 19 miles.

We arrived at about 11:00am and after waking Amy and Ed up from their morning nap, David and Rebekah decided to run back to meet Andrew. They met him about 4 miles back on the trail and they all arrived back at the vehicles around 1:00pm. Andrew had started that section at 6:45am, but had been slowed slightly by a thunderstorm.

After arriving at the truck, fixing feet and eating lunch were in order and after about a 1/2 hour Andrew was back on the trail with Amy. She would go 6 or 7 miles with him this day. The day would end on the parkway at the the Peaks of Otter overlook.

Interestingly, Andrew is exactly on the same schedule David was in 1991. (If you would like to read David's perspective about this section of the trail from his book A Quest for Adventure, click here.)   The blisters on his feet had slowed him down several days before and the time he had gained earlier was lost.

The nice thing about the next several days is that Lynchburg is close. Last night the whole crew went to the Outback Steakhouse where Amy works and had a great meal.

David took some more pictures. If you would like to check those out click here.

We did meet several thru-hikers. One of them was Chris Rinehart, trail name "Tripod." He has a website where he is posting trail pictures. If you would like to view his site click here.

June 1, 1998

The last several days Andrew and his entourage ( Scott Grierson aka "Maineak" and David Blair aka "Lone Wolf" joined them on Saturday) have moved along the Blue Ridge here in Central Virginia.

As of the end of Day 23, which was Sunday, Andrew is exactly on David's schedule from 1991. He ended the day at Swift Run Gap at 7:30 p.m. after a 13 hour day. David had done this 36.9 mile section in 9:55, but a sore quadricep muscle has slowed Andrew's pace to below 3 miles per hour.

The next 6 days should prove interesting for Andrew as he tries to maintain David's schedule. It was at this point that David began increasing the mileage. These next 6 days will see an average of 45 miles per day needing to be covered. Two of these 6 days are over 50 miles.

David saw Andrew several times over the weekend and despite the soreness in his left quad Andrew is excited about Maineak and Lone Wolf joining the group for the next week or so. (Lone Wolf helped crew Maineak in 1991 and also helped crew David on the Trans-Am)

As they leave this area we are going to maintain contact as much as possible,  but we will be depending on Andrew's crew for our updates. We will pass on any and all information we receive.

June 2, 1998

We received a call tonight (June 2, 1998) from Maineak. He reported that Andrew had completed the last two days as planned.

Yesterday was 43 miles with today being around 39. Andrew has walked the last two days because of the soreness in his quadricep. He was on the trail for 13-14 hours both days.

He completed the last section in the Shenandoah National Park park today and stopped at Paris, VA.

Tomorrow he will be going through West Virginia and ending in Maryland on a part of the trail where the JFK 50 miler is held.

June 9, 1998

We apologize for the length of time between reports but we have not gotten first hand info.

Today David received a call but he was not home so Maineak and Lone Wolf left a brief message. The only info we have is that Andrew finished yesterday 7 miles ahead of David's schedule (from what we can figure this would have put them at Smith Gap Road 7 miles north of Danielsville, PA) Lone Wolf said they were "rockin' and rollin' in the rocks of Pennsylvania. When we get more complete information we will post it.

June 10, 1998

David received another call today from Maineak. David, of course was not home. (He needs to stop training so much for Hardrock)

The message said Andrew finished last night (June 9th - Day 32) at Flatbrookville Road. This 17 miles north of Delaware Water Gap (start of New Jersey)

He is still 7 miles ahead of David's 1991 schedule.

June 14, 1998

The most recent report we have is  from Friday June 12th.  This was day 35 and Andrew had made it to Deep Hole Hill Road in New York. This is 16 miles from the Connecticut border and ten miles ahead of David's 1991 schedule.

If you have been following weather reports for that area you have seen there has been tremendous rain in that area. Andrew and his crew have hit all of this bad weather.

We hope to hear another report tomorrow and will put up anything else we hear.

June 15, 1998

Andrew finished last night (Sunday) at 10:10 pm at Jug End Road in Massachusetts. This is 7.4 miles behind David's 1991 schedule. The bad weather and difficulty of the trail has caused Andrew to slow a bit.

One interesting note about this point on the AT is this was the first place David's crew saw Maineak. If you would like to read this section of A Quest for Adventure click here. This describes the several days leading up to when David actually caught Maineak on the trail.

June 17, 1998

We received a call today from Amy, Andrew's wife. Unfortunately we were down in southern Virginia trying to catch up with Sam before David takes off for Colorado later tonight.

Amy said they entered Vermont yesterday. She did not say exactly where they made it to last night but as far as we can figure it was at Mill Road which is 3.1 miles inside of Vermont.

She called in the early afternoon and said Andrew was planning on doing either 47 or 51 miles today. If he does the 51 it will put him at Manchester Center. This is 5.3 miles behind David's 1991 schedule.

She did say they were having real problems with the rain and the trail conditions were extremely wet and that at times the water was up to their knees.

Despite the conditions she reported that Andrew was doing well just hoping the weather conditions would get better.

June 18, 1998

We received a call today from Maineak and he told us Andrew has decided to quit in his attempt to break the AT record.

Last night he had made it to Stratton Pond which put him 15 miles behind David's schedule. Today, he actually stopped at Manchester Center which is another ten miles further.

We did not speak directly with Andrew so rather than "put words in his mouth" we will attempt to get in touch with him in the next several days and only pass along first hand information about this development.

June 23, 1998

Andrew called today and I had a chance to get his perspective on his last couple of days on the trail.

According to Andrew, there was essentially one factor that "forced" him to cease in his attempt at the AT record. When he entered Vermont the rain was such that it had deteriorated the trail conditions to the point there were not enough hours in the day to maintain David's 1991 schedule. Andrew said  from the beginning his plan was to maintain or get ahead of David's schedule.  Then, for the last several days in northern Maine, he had planned on going more hours, evening going through the night to break the record by as much as he could.

On the evening before he stopped he was 15 miles behind David's schedule. With the conditions as they were he would have continued to get further behind. David had made excellent time in this section of the trail averaging 44 miles per day. Following Vermont, Andrew felt there would be no place to make up the lost time even if the trail conditions improved.

He had stated from the beginning his goal was not to be "a thru-hiker." His goal was to break the record and when, in his mind, this became impossible the decision to stop was the only logical one.

He did say that physically he was recovering, but the days right after he stopped he wondered how he had even done what he had. The first day at home he could hardly walk. David had experienced this same thing on both the AT and the Trans-Am.

 

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