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JMT speed record attempt
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Brett Maune
(bmaune) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/20/2009 23:26:03 MDT Print View

If anyone hears how Jeff's attempt turns out please post it here. I will be acclimating when he finishes and would really like to know if he breaks the record before I start!

Michael Popov
(mpopov) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/21/2009 15:09:41 MDT Print View

Jeff Kozak is starting in Yosemite and going SoBo. There is a chance you two will cross paths either on the trail or in Whitney area.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: join in. on 08/21/2009 17:06:13 MDT Print View

"I continue to wonder (especially in this day and age) what would happen if someone did something amazing, incredible, at the edge of human fitness and endurance, and didn't tell anyone. No one. I am sure those people exist, and are doing those amazing things all the time. But we don't know. Maybe they seek purity and inward knowledge and self-satisfaction."


Probably. Others do, and have done, such things just to stay alive, or be free. One such adventure is laconically recounted by one Slavomir Rawicz in "The Long Walk". The JMT, or even the Arctic1000, pales by comparison(heresy, I know). I highly recommend it as an antidote to your lament. He didn't write the book for recognition, for sure. I doubt it sold more than a few hundred copies-Joseph Conrad he ain't.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY – John Muir Trail speed attempt report. on 08/23/2009 15:33:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting your attempt Michael. I'd enjoy meeting you some day. It's a tough trail and there are many ways to approach it. Information about your plan, techniques and support make it easier for others to have a better experience. I learned a lot from Brian Robinson's experience prior to my record in 2004. For me getting 5-6 hours of sleep each night was critical to keeping up a good pace and motivation--his problems with sleep deprivation, hallucinations and slowing pace pushed me in this direction.

I'd like to respond to several of the comments earlier in this post. I've kept a bit of distance as fast JMT attempts are very personal.

1. If there is an official "record" it needs to be from an agreed upon point to an agreed upon point. The prior three record holders and others going for the record have established the route as Portal to Valley--or Valley to Portal. You can argue about what constitutes the JMT but road to road makes sense and is what has been agreed upon.

The minor variations of the trail through Red's and Tuolumne are also open to interpretation--I chose to take the original trail by Devil's postpile and Soda Springs (crossing the road twice in Tuolumne) because the intention of the trail is to see as many "wild country features" as possible. The re-routes around these areas are Park Service choices to limit traffic to popular features. This is rather like the re-route of the PCT away from Crater Lake--it just doesn't make any sense.

2. If I were to attempt the record again I would use poles, pre-tape my feet to avoid blisters and have better support so I wouldn't have to carry an overnight pack (I carried a sleeping bag, bivy, stove for about 1/3 of the trail--Charlotte Lk. Junction to Blaney Meadows). Acclimation to elevation (longer the better) is also something I'd have to work out.

3. There are many ways to get the calories, fluid and salt you need for the trail but variety is very important. Even my much beloved Molasses Chew cookies didn't taste so good on the third day. You've got to try what you'll eat on the trail when training to find what works for you. Bret may have "bonked"--sometimes your stomach shuts down and just can't absorb the calories you need. He may also have had dehydration or electrolyte problems.

Good-luck to those going for the record later this year and in subsequent years.

Kevin Sawchuk
JMT record 2004-2008 3d,21h,5m

Ian Alloway
(CRAZY8s) - F

Locale: westSiiiiiEEde!
JMT: entering the fray on 08/24/2009 19:15:48 MDT Print View

Not so abstract a question: I plan an early September speed record attempt, so what criteria is there for a legitimate record POINT to POINT (Mt. Whitney to Happy Isles)? What sort of verification is considered legitimate? I run this race for my satisfaction, but recognition of an accomplished feat seems worthwhile to me in addition, so I submit this query, my unburdened colleagues.

Jeff Kozak
(Kozak) - F
Re: Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/24/2009 20:12:38 MDT Print View

Peter's assessment of my background is dead on: decent ultra-distance trail racing background, virgin multi-day trail speed attempter! Not for much longer though. A big part of me really wanted to keep my attempt on the downlow since I feel a bit sheepish about even saying I'm attempting to break a record since this is my maiden voyage but in the name of respect for others who have blazed the way and set the standards and in keeping true to an "open book" policy here it is for those who care about such things. I will try to post info about what happens or does not happen(!) as soon as I can muster the energy to type upon finishing or bailing.
Jeff Kozak

My JMT "Plan":
*camping in Upper Pines Cpgd./Yosemite Valley WED 8/26
Happy Isles 0.0mi 3am TH 8/27
*my girlfriend is starting the pre-dawn hike with me past the falls

Tuolumne Mdws 24mi 9-10am TH 8/27
*breakfast(real food!) at café/re-supply with my GF

Reds Mdw 61.7mi 8-10pm TH 8/27
*truck camping either at Rainbow Falls T/H parking or in nearest cpgd.
Being re-supplied by friend who will also hike with me in dark to Upper Crater Mdws

6hr eat/sleep/re-supply break 2-4am FR 8/28

Piute Creek 113.8mi 9-11pm FR 8/28
*a friend is setting up a full camp and will be hanging out from about 3pm FR to 8am SA, I will have hot food and coffee

5hr eat/sleep/re-supply break 2-4am SA 8/29

LeConte Cyn 137.6mi
*will have trail companion from Piute Ck to LeConte with another friend joining up where Lamarck Col trail meets JMT with a mini re-supply

Kearsarge Pass tr jcn 179.5mi 2am-6am SU 8/30
*friends will be setting up a full camp here and will be hanging out from about 6pm SA to 9am SU, I will have pizza and coffee!

4hr eat/sleep/re-supply break 6am-10am SU 8/30

Mt. Whitney 210.7mi 6-8pm SU 8/30

Portal 221.7mi 10pm-who knows when SU 8/30

*A note about the planned “sleep” breaks. They make up most of the difference between Sue’s 92 hour record and a non-stop 74hr 3mph pace for 222mi…obviously not an option for sleep-needing creatures. I hope to be able to “tweak” the actual length of these breaks based on how off pace I am. Also, if things are going magically and I’m anywhere near Sue’s pace late in the game I’m hoping that will be sufficient motivation to push harder and break for less time. Of course at some point no matter what I will simply most likely be in survival mode with sleep deprivation being factor #1. It seems this becomes paramount for just about everyone and I expect it will be no different for me. There will probably be unplanned daytime naps in random meadows…

Random but important additional info:
A big question by many has obviously been: why the hell would you go North to South? Well, I did the entire trail in training over the course of 8 scattered days in July-August of this summer. The logistics of car shuttle help from friends found me in Happy Isles for the first training run and since I wanted to do the sections in order I went with it. I feel the rhythm of the trail in the N to S direction is lodged firmly in my consciousness right now and to suddenly switch directions for the actual attempt would feel "against the grain" to me. That is the main reason but I also feel like the first 2 days N to S to Piute Creek contain some very runnable sections that are also at lower elevation. I'm hoping that by hitting these sections while "fresh" I will actually be able to do a lot of running. As we all know the southern half contains a lot of thin air, relentless climbs, and I think, much rougher trail overall- a lot of stuff that I would be hiking even if "fresh" coming from the S. By days 3 and 4 I figure fatigue, hammered feet and legs and sleep deprivation will have me doing mostly hiking anyway regardless of the terrain. We'll see how well this theory pans out. I certainly am not psyched about the climb to Whitney at mile 203!
Because I have plenty of re-supply/bivy set-up help I will be travelling as light as when I do, say, the 56 mile "Evolution loop" as a 1 day training run...4-6# max on my back (using Nathan mesh vest pack minus bladder, carrying 2 20oz handhelds). Last weather check shows a forecast as good as it can get. I should be able to minimize even further the foul weather survival gear I plan to carry.

I will not be taking a camera. This is a tough one for me but I took hundreds of photos on my training runs, know how much time I can eat up with a camera in hand and am hoping that my "support" will get some "action" shots along the way. I know there will be some spectacular "Range Of Light moments" where I will regret this. It simply is not a part of the going as fast as possible equation.

I plan to carry enough food between re-supply points to be able to eat something EVERY HOUR whether it be a gel, energy/electrolyte chews, energy bar, pop tarts (Nature's Path Organic! they are a magic food to me in the BC). More food weight to start each section than most would carry I'm guessing but I am convinced from my 3 day 100+ mile fastpack earlier this month that it is not possible to maintain consistent energy levels for such sustained periods by eating any less frequently. For fluids I plan to drink 20oz every hour mixing water with either Accelerade(protein content) or GU2O. I do not bother to filter in the Sierra. I'm fairly discreet about my water sources however this adventure may cause me to get a little more reckless (I will have a straw for desperate moments...great idea Buzz!). I will be ravenously consuming pizza and coffee at each of my 3 main re-supply points, courtesy of a support crew open to my requests!

I plan to take an Endurolyte cap every hour, a glucosamine/chondroitin cap every 2 hours (while on the move), a multivitamin/multimineral supp each morning and night, and 600 mg ibuprofen before each planned sleep break (i find more than anything it helps to calm the "jimmy legs" syndrome caused by trying to be motionless after 15-20 hours of continuous motion, which at least allows for the possibility of sleep!)

I will have an iPod shuffle with about 7 hours of battery life to be judiciously spread out for use when I need more than the sounds of nature.

No maps will be carried. I feel I know the trail so well and it is so heavily signed (except in the Reds to Crater Mdws area where it need it the most which is simply baffling to me!) that no map is detailed enough to be of any help where I might have issues. For instance the upper south side of Muir Pass where the trail crosses/recrosses/becomes one with the creek numerous times in a desolate rock bowl always has me looking around even in the daylight...could be weird at night when dead tired.

Hopefully I'll end up having some trail company for more of the journey but the only sections I know I will for sure are a few miles at the start, the "Bermuda Triangle" zone in the dark on morning 2 from Reds and from Piute Creek to LeConte Canyon on the morning of Day 3.

I will probably not set foot on a single patch of snow. There will be some stretches where water sources are more limited than normal, at least by Sierra standards which are very generous!

And last but definitely not least: I care far more about experiencing the intertwining of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of this journey in a magnificent setting than I do about what the stopwatch reads at the Portal BUT it is fun to see how you stack up against others and you do need some sort of timetable so why not go for it!

That's about it. All's that left is to start putting one foot in front of the other and see just how much of this plan goes out the window!

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/24/2009 20:36:32 MDT Print View

Most off all, have fun!

A patch of snow might set on you though.

You have sleep breaks startin between 2-4 am.
What do you plan on using for protection while sleeping?
I doesn't look like you will be at anyone of your helps locations for the sleeping periods?

You are going just a little late in the season.
Michael hit 28* on the last night. You could get down into the low 20's. Brrr.

Will you be able to have your friends that are helping you keep us posted as soon as they get back to civilization?

Edited by awsorensen on 08/24/2009 20:37:02 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: JMT: entering the fray on 08/24/2009 23:46:57 MDT Print View

Are you attempting a "supported" or "unsupported-unresupplied" record?
Are you starting the time from Whitney Portal or Whitney Summit?

If travelling solo, then Mark Davis' method of passing out small laminted cards with your name and email address requesting they email you is a good way to prove you were there. But as far as the unsupported & unresupplied part, it seems to be the honor system.

Edited by asandh on 08/24/2009 23:48:10 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/24/2009 23:50:44 MDT Print View

best of luck.
so far this summer a fast start has tended to end in disaster.
watch your pace.

Jeff Kozak
(Kozak) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Another JMT Record Attempt - Jeff Kozak on 08/25/2009 12:15:50 MDT Print View


The way I wrote out that itinerary is misleading I suppose. The times listed (2-4am, etc..)to the right of a planned sleep break indicate when I plan to get moving again AFTER a rest period at a re-supply point.
At Red's Mdw I will be cozy in the back of a styled-out Tacoma, at Piute Ck I will be in a bivy sack/40 degree rated 1.1lb Marmot sleeping bag with a 3/4 length 1/2" thermarest underneath, at Kearsarge Pass zone I will be in a tent with my girlfriend (I haven't decided if this is a really good or potentially bad idea!).
Latest forecast calls for 100 degree temps in the Owens Valley this weekend. Yes, the nights are longer this late in the summer but I think it's going to be as warm as it gets in the upper elevations this time of year. In the event that I'm freezing my ass off trying to sleep at night I will just get up and get moving.
I was able to catch a bit of sleep in between waking up shivering episodes during a mid-October bivy at 11000' in the Palisade Lakes Basin with the same bivy sack and a 30 degree rated sleeping bag on a low teens night. It was miserable but do-able! I'm more concerned about tweaking an ankle above timberline on a pass and the potential consequences of that than being cold during a planned bivy.
I'll mention to my support this site as a place to post updates on my progress. Whether they take the time to do this or not is up to them. They are already sacrificing so much of their free time in the name of my adventure that I'm not going to expect it of them.

Ian Alloway
(CRAZY8s) - F

Locale: westSiiiiiEEde!
good luck on 08/26/2009 10:56:20 MDT Print View

Good Luck Brett and Jeff... this should be fun!

Edited by CRAZY8s on 08/26/2009 19:24:20 MDT.

Ian Alloway
(CRAZY8s) - F

Locale: westSiiiiiEEde!
JMT on 08/26/2009 11:06:12 MDT Print View

Hi Art, thanks for sharing the idea re: contact cards... I may not laminate but it's a useful idea. I'm going for the unsupported record from Whitney Hut to the Happy Isles sign... at the risk of opening a can of worms, I dare say that TRAIL CAMP wasn't even on the original path to Mt. Whitney from Lone Pine historically when the local fishermen named it FISHERMAN PEAK (if i'm not mistaken about the name) it took a dubious act of california legislation to give crusty old Whitney the christening; if you look at any current map you'll see Whitney Pass climbing from Consultation Lake... this is probably the original path anyways, I have been a little busy though to confirm this suspicion... and I don't really have any hangups about the great Portal debate.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
honour on 08/27/2009 09:53:32 MDT Print View

It seems to me that most of the folks worried about "proof" and the various methods used to attain it are coming from the armchair. There's a long history of this sort of thing being purely on the honour system. Given the lack of fame/money/recognition to be had, I think that's the only sensible and sustainable way to go about it.

Good luck everyone.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: honour on 08/27/2009 10:10:58 MDT Print View

writing this from an arm(less) chair, I can say its actually just the opposite. those going through all the agony simply want to insure that their sometimes life threatening efforts are not questioned after the fact.

the honor system is a great plan when nobody really cares, but when the sponsored athletes from Europe start showing up (and yes I'm sure they are compensated in some fashion), well ... show us the proof :-)

Brett Maune
(bmaune) - F

Locale: SoCal
here we go again! on 08/29/2009 00:04:02 MDT Print View

i will be heading to the sierras in a few hours to begin acclimating for the second attempt and hope to start on wed. sep 2. hopefully this attempt will last longer than the last!

my wife will be monitoring this thread for news on jeff's attempt so please someone post any info ASAP. i couldn't imagine starting without knowing that outcome...

ian, i'll try to post as soon as possible as well. if timing will be critical you can get in contact with my wife with this thread. i will try calling her when i get to reds. if you plan on starting before me i'd like to know! :)

good luck!

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Kozak bailed at Kearsarge on 08/31/2009 21:37:48 MDT Print View

Apparently Kozak bailed at Kearsarge Pass.
That's all I know. Check his blog:

Michael Popov
(mpopov) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Kozak bailed at Kearsarge on 09/01/2009 13:01:13 MDT Print View

Nothing on the blog so far. The last entry is from Le Conte Canyon. What happened? Does anyone know?

Jeff Kozak
(Kozak) - F
Re: Re: Kozak bailed at Kearsarge on 09/01/2009 14:56:48 MDT Print View

Sue's amazing record stands...I bailed at Kearsarge Pass 180 miles in. I will post a detailed trip report on Peter's FKT site once I have sorted through the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts I've been experiencing.
Quick synopsis:
3:10 am start Thursday the 26th
9pm arrival Reds Mdw
3:45am FR 27th start Reds
8:30pm arrival Piute Creek
2:10am SA 28th start Piute Creek
8am SU 29th arrival Bullfrog Lake
Based on how recovered and desirous I feel to run and ride again already after a 12 hour death-like sleep back at home in Bishop I am absolutely convinced that I succumbed primarily to sleep deprivation. The 30+ hour non-stop push from Piute Creek after already having 3 nights in a row of only 2-3 hours actual sleep left me a complete wreck as we stumbled over Glen Pass in the early morning hours of Sunday. In the 3 miles from Glen Pass to camp I experienced completely random emotional breakdowns with uncontrollable crying episodes. By early afternoon in camp I still hadn't slept much and I couldn't get my head around continuing knowing it would be dark again soon. The lack of sleep had a lot of irrational fears blown way out of proportion and I felt like I had lost the ability to think logically.
Despite leaving unfinished business out there it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Good luck Brett!!! It would be great if at least one of the myriad attempts this summer is at least completed! Be ready for longer stretches than normal for the Sierra without water.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Kozak bailed at Kearsarge on 09/01/2009 15:03:51 MDT Print View

Jeff, sorry you had to stop. Thanks for the very honest recount of your challenges on the attempt.

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Re: Re: Re: Kozak bailed at Kearsarge on 09/01/2009 16:35:05 MDT Print View

I had the opportunity to discuss the JMT extensively with
Flyin' Brian recently, during a 5-day backpack in SEKI.
It's clear that most failures are due to lack of sleep.
Brian was way ahead of my time years ago, but simply
couldn't follow the trail into Yoseimte due to sleep
deprivation. His pacer was telling him the right way,
but he just wouldn't believe it. I also crashed and
burned at Tuolumne, with a complete physical and
emotional melt-down due to lack of sleep. I was able
to continue after an hour or two, but it sure wasn't
pretty. I was so whacked that next night that I completely
forgot to take caffeine. John Stamstad's unsupported
attempt (quoted extensively on my site) is classic for
the delerium & halucinations. Not fun. There are other
examples -- Popov knows this well, I think. On the other
hand, the 2 fastest times have (Sue J. & Kevin Sawchuk)
have been set with probably the most sleep. They had
great support, knew the route & had the confidence to
sleep enough. If I was doing the JMT again I would pay
very close attention to the sleep plan. I would have
enough gear to sleep comfortably at the coldest times
of night (wee hours), when you really need it. I argued
with Brian that doing the trail in late July - early Aug
is best becasue the nights are warmer, so you can carry
less stuff and still sleep well, while he feels the days
are too hot then. Of course if you have people setting
up camps for you then the equation of carrying enough
gear to sleep is moot, but you better be sure the camps
are where/when you need them (again, in the wee hours).
Being forced to sleep when you don't really need it is a
waste. This was a problem in some of the early attempts,
when we had to guess where we would be when.
Nowadays, folks have the benefit of everyone's splits to
know pretty much exactly where they will be. It's
fun to see how the approach has evolved & the various
things people are trying.

Just some thoughts. Looking forward to Kozak's report -
Jeff I'll definitely post it as soon as you send it to me.