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Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail
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Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/02/2011 05:35:43 MDT Print View

Kudos to her....never heard of/considered half her gear, I wonder if we could go lighter. hehe.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/02/2011 07:03:27 MDT Print View

I find her record particularly impressive considering all of the brutal heat she marched through this last month. I'm officially a fan!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/02/2011 10:22:57 MDT Print View

Kudos are in order.

But I would like to point out that she walked the trail with huge support. Pretty much no gear carried other than food and water. Often this was minimal because she was met several times each day on road crossings by her husband who provided food and water. She often was in contact with her team by cell phone.

She was often accompanied by athletes who helped her with pacing. On sections of trail that were not clearly marked she was accompanied by experienced AT hikers who know the route.

Most of the time she did not have to spend any time purifying water, cooking, or setting up camp. Her support team did all of that. She walked, ate, and slept. She averaged 46 miles per day.

In perspective I would like to point out the Skurka carried everything on his back on the Great Western Loop (6,875 miles @ 33 miles per day). Food, shelter, and water. He traversed some of the most difficult deserts in the US requiring carries of up to 44 lbs in just food and water. He hiked at elevations from sea level up to 13,000+ feet. He hiked in hot deserts, post-holed in deep snow, traversed huge mountains, and did a lot of areas where navigation was critical and trails do not exist. He often went days without seeing another person. He saw temps from the 20's to 90's. He had to worry about all his logistics. Planning, mail drops, where to find food and water, etc. His FSO weight (excluding consumables) never dropped below 10 lbs.

On another trip he hiked the Calif section of the PCT, which included a side trip to the top of Whitney. All unsupported and averaged over 38 miles per day. This trip included desert sections with temps in the 100's, snow in the mountains up to 20 feet deep covering trails, waist deep water crossings in fast currents, etc.

Andy impresses me.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
back story on 08/02/2011 10:27:09 MDT Print View

How did you find out the details of how she was supported? (did I not fully read the article I posted? :o haha)

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: back story on 08/02/2011 10:33:41 MDT Print View

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: back story on 08/02/2011 10:41:07 MDT Print View

I have been following her trail journal. Just do a Google search.

I do not want to make light of what she accomplished.

But with the kind of support she received, a similar hike is within reach of a large number of people. Just need the time and money to pull it off.

Andy is another story. Very few people have the skill, conditioning, or mental tenacity to accomplish what he does.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: back story on 08/02/2011 11:30:12 MDT Print View

David Horton set his 2005 PCT record (later broken) in pretty much the same totally supported style as Jennifer.
As long as the style employed is completely clear . . .

the FKT web site (Fastest Known Times) usually makes it clear which style was used for which records and typically a trail can have 2 or more records because of the style categories.


While I tend to prefer the unsupported style Jennifer's accomplishment is very impressive.

Dale South
(dsouth) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re; Back Story on 08/02/2011 15:19:53 MDT Print View

Yeah Nick, when are you starting?

(Slyman) - F
Jen's endurance/speed record. on 08/02/2011 16:05:15 MDT Print View


I'm not sure if you're aware but there a difference between unsupported and supported hikes. Jennifer also holds the Long Trail record for unsupported, which means she hiked the entire trail, with a backpack, in the least amount of time.

Also, as far a having guidance, Jen is very familiar with the trail, having done a traditional thru-hike (with pack) and another supported hike that set the women's record in 57 days two years ago.

Her backpacking accomplishments also include thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

For you to think all it takes is time and money is ridiculous. Typical thru-hikes take longer and costs less. Never mind 47, you should try hiking consistent 50 mile, 15 hour days for a week, or even a few days. Let us know how you make out.

What Jen did was nothing less than extraordinary.

Edited by Slyman on 08/02/2011 16:06:40 MDT.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
mental, physical, and external support on 08/02/2011 16:47:53 MDT Print View

i am glad to see someone who is willing to mention a bit of details with a * without just raving kudos that someone went so fast along the trail and what a wonderful great person they are, aside from their accomplishment.

the physicality, mental fortitude, and great support team stand out in my mind. it is indeed quite an accomplishment. Time and money alone don't get things like that done. A 'typical' thruHIKE goes a long time and that length increases odds of injury, and biggest of all, mental deflation and lack of perseverance and motivation. I am sure just the same a supported trail run she did big miles and day after day increases odds of injury, and the level of endurance and stamina to continue the high rate really has to grate at one's brain, even if all the other factors are taken care of--though certainly having people carry your snacks behind you and massage your body, pre-masticate your food, and wipe your butt at each road crossing probably goes a long way to allowing the mind to keep laser focus and motivation on miles alone.

i respect the accomplishment a great deal. It is impressive on many levels. However, to me the only thing that has to do with the appalachian trail is that it was along it, not really much of the tidings or character that most people experience when hiking the trail. That is okay but it could just have well been some other route that stretches the same distance and involves many road crossings and elevation gain and loss along a fairly clearly demarcated path through varied terrain. other places may record records but ATC doesn't give a hoot about speed, just thru and 2000 milers.

the singular relatively unsupported treks like those on PCT/CDT and skurkas dealies strike me as much more of an individual accomplishment. Any are welcome to disagree with that but a super-supported record on any trail seems more like a team game with an MVP being the person that did the brunt of the work--like any sports where the hero charges ahead and both carries the team on their back and stands upon the foundation of the team.

Gerald Hutchinson
(BR360) - F
It is what it is... on 08/03/2011 12:22:19 MDT Print View

Jennifer Pharr Davis beat her own women's (supported) 2009 AT thru-hike record by 11 days.
She beat the men's (supported) AT thru-hike record of Andrew Thompson by 1 day, 1 hour and 11 minutes.
Jennifer Pharr Davis now holds the all-time best record, men or women.

No doubt the strength of the team is an important factor. But **she** was the one who woke up before 5AM and hiked 46+ miles until 9-10PM *every day* for 47 days through injury (shin splints), sickness (GI tract), on less than 7 hours of sleep a night (little recovery time), and through heat, rain, and cold, over all sorts of rugged terrain.

Those who wish to discount it can get their own team together and do it. Until those who criticize her hike put up there own comparable effort, they just look like a .....

Can't you enjoy another human's accomplishment without having to snipe, fercryssake?!

Edited by BR360 on 08/03/2011 12:25:24 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: It is what it is... on 08/03/2011 15:06:58 MDT Print View

If this journey was enjoyable and rewarding for Ms. Jennifer Pharr Davis, then that's all that matters.

At the same time, I can see why many people wouldn't care about her trip. Hiking records, hot dog eating contests, other people's sexual conquests, or whatever mean nothing to me. That's not sniping. I just don't care about silly "records." At the end of the day, I don't care whether somebody hiked 2 or 20 or 200 miles. All I care about is the happiness that it brought them as an individual.

I don't see any reason to criticize her; yet, I don't see anybody criticizing her in this thread.

Ryan Tucker
(BeartoothTucker) - M
perspective on 08/03/2011 15:38:25 MDT Print View

i was glad the Nick provided greater detail. in our twitter info culture i read this post and commented to my wife about how unbelievable that was, etc... after seeing the supported nature of her trip it is less unbelievable to me. i in no way believe that i could do what she did but walking the trips toting gear, alone, and so on seem to me to be a bit more of an accomplishment along the idea of backpacking/wilderness trips.

that being said 47 miles a day is still impressive. however, supported trips don't have the same feel imho as unsupported.

Edited by BeartoothTucker on 08/03/2011 15:40:46 MDT.

odyssa on 08/03/2011 16:10:55 MDT Print View

unless you go out and never resupply, catch all your own wild food, etc, every hike is supported, how much is the difference.

The speed records use unlimited support in order to set..speed records. Hiking 45-55 mile per day in mountainous terrain, all weather conditions, for 17 hrs per day (she started around 5 am and hiked till about 10 pm every night) is still pretty darn impressive. What she proved was that the tortoise beats the hare. She had people hiking with her often for long stretches, sometimes carrying her snacks and water, or even guiding her. These things dont diminish her accomplishment. Anyone that thinks they can do better should put up, or shut up.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: It is what it is... on 08/03/2011 16:33:53 MDT Print View

"" I just don't care about silly "records." At the end of the day, I don't care whether somebody hiked 2 or 20 or 200 miles. All I care about is the happiness that it brought them as an individual. ""

Do you not care about Silly records, or All records ?
Human civilization was built by those seeking records (in one form or another).
From the Olympics, to Skurka's quests, to pro football, to Apple's iPhone, to the pioneers heading West, to the girl who was the first person in her family to go to college.
Its all about records and firsts.
I hope we just have a semantics difference ... but its also Not about happiness, its about accomplishment.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
got it on 08/03/2011 16:40:17 MDT Print View

unless you have praise, admiration, and only glowing opinion of her accomplishment, you ought not voice an opinion at all.

happiness with experience is all that matters. I personally don't find it as engaging nor can I relate to her accomplishment in the sense that it is not congruent with my culturally-shared experience of being on the AT. But you won't hear me saying that it didn't take a will of steel, training, stamina, and mental perseverance to accomplish. it is one heck of a feat! But, for me, for my opinion, it seems somewhat removed from the character of the appalachian trail. That is all. My opinion.

if you can't demarcate someone walking behind you carrying your snacks and water, sleeping in beds most nights, having a constant ride to the TH, and getting off the trail and having to buy, depackage, sort, and repack 4-8 days of food and leave town carrying it, tenting, etc, maybe it isn't worth trying to discuss with you. Having a winner team at your beck and call to help at any point along the way would certainly help one to maintain the mental fortitude and focus to continue the difficulty of miles ahead. Basically she only had to think about miles, most else was taken care of. A normal thru-backpacker has more to deal with in an average day in a lot of respects.

maybe someone can thru hike with no pack and pay a sherpa to carrying everything the whole way. just like anyone short-roped up everest is a regular messner!

David T
(DaveT) - F
what if... on 08/03/2011 18:03:58 MDT Print View

what if someone did something amazing... and never told anyone.

Dale South
(dsouth) - M

Locale: Southeast
Clueless on 08/03/2011 18:45:00 MDT Print View

Some folks are clueless to the point that they can't begin to comprehend how clueless they are.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
re-supplied on 08/03/2011 18:46:28 MDT Print View

" I'm not sure if you're aware but there a difference between unsupported and supported hikes. Jennifer also holds the Long Trail record for unsupported, which means she hiked the entire trail, with a backpack, in the least amount of time. "

I don't think she holds the record for non-resupplied. She had at least one resupply on that trip I believe, maybe 2. Somebody should put a chart together on how the carbon footprint grows as somebody is supported more and more, or at least find out how to hike with the smallest footprint. Leave no trace should take on a little bigger meaning than not turning stones.

Edited by wildlife on 08/03/2011 18:50:16 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/03/2011 18:48:20 MDT Print View

As a backpacker and a runner, I can say that this is an amazing feat. She has never said she was going for anything but the supported record, and those records are held by other athletes that had the same type team she did, so I don't think that tarnishes it at all. Most of the time these records are set by ultrarunners and at least she has thru hiked the trail unsupported before.

I am a competitive person so I often push myself, and I am sure she wanted this record for her. If you have ever reached a huge milestone in your life, you can't help but be proud and want to spread the word. Congratulations to her.

On the other hand, we do have one of our own (who doesn't want the publicity now) who is going for the unsupported record on the AT right now. It will be interesting to see how he does.