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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.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: what if... on 08/03/2011 18:50:21 MDT Print View

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

Oh gosh, I do that all the time. Just last week I ........ ohhhhhh, you almost had me there. Tricky.

But seriously, it happens every day. I loved to watch my elementary school teacher wife engage her young charges. She did some truly amazing things with them and never told anyone. There are soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan right now doing amazing things and not telling anyone. There's someone crouching down with some hot soup and a sincerely kind word for a homeless person, chatting for a bit, and then going on their way with no one else the wiser. There's a crisis counselor somewhere talking someone 'off the ledge,' and then going on to the next call without missing a beat.

I know, quite different from sports records and such, but amazing triumphs of the soul, of the spirit, of the heart nonetheless. There's lots and lots of heroes out there, doing things big and small. Making a real difference in someone's life. Every single day.

Darn you Dave, made me be serious for a sec there. I'll get you for that.....

(And lest someone take this as somehow, some way disparaging or diminishing what Jennifer did, you're simply wrong. I couldn't do what she did, even when I was her age, I think it's pretty amazing. But it's a shame some folks need to resort to name calling just because someone expressed an opinion (and in the opinion agreed that what she did was commendable). Some of you cheapened this thread more with your attacks on Nick than Nick did with his pretty simple opinion. At least, that's my opinion.....)

Edited by idester on 08/03/2011 19:07:54 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Intraweb on 08/03/2011 19:01:10 MDT Print View

The intraweb lets me criticizen put down other people accomplishments

Even though i cant even get off my phat lazy azz and do anything close

God i luuuv BPL ;)

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: what if... on 08/03/2011 19:17:35 MDT Print View

I love these forums. One completely inane post followed by one genuinely wonderful one. Thanks Doug.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/03/2011 20:27:25 MDT Print View

Of course I'm totally impressed by the actual speed record, but I am 10X as impressed by all the training, prep, years of life change commitment it takes to even get to the point of seriously attempting the record.

Maybe the most impressive sub set of that is her ability and good nature to create the necessary atmosphere around her socially to be in the supportive position to go for it.


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail" on 08/03/2011 20:48:10 MDT Print View

Well said Ron.

Never fails, every time an ultrarunner sets out to establish a fastest known time on a recognized long trail (*particularly the AT) there is some thru-hiking purist in line ready to chip away or place a footnote on the attempt both in failure and success.

What Davis has accomplished is remarkable, period.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
"Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on AT" on 08/03/2011 20:58:02 MDT Print View

Supported or not, still quite an accomplishment. I have a question I've not seen addressed: Are there separate records for North-South vs. South-North? I would imagine it is faster to tackle New England while relatively fresh & go thru the Roan Highlands/Smokies/Nantahalas North-South.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: back story on 08/03/2011 22:48:24 MDT Print View

To quote myself on this thread...

"Kudos are in order." and "I do not want to make light of what she accomplished."


Last I checked, this is and for me I look at articles and posts from the perspective of what can I learn, what can I apply, is it something that interests me, or is it something that inspires me? Others may look for something else, and that is fine too.

Jennifer's hike was not an easy one. But Jennifer's story does not inspire me. Apparently it inspires others, and that is okay too. She and her husband are the ones who have pushed this into the media and limelight. They are promoting the hike. And they may benefit financially from the fanfare. She has already written one book.

This year I am inspired by Sunshine and her father, Eric ("Balls"). While people here are posting questions about how to hike the JMT in August, this 11 year old girl hiked from Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows between June 12 and July 2 on their PCT thru hike. And this is one of the heaviest snow years on record. While they were navigating high water and snow, other PCT hikers waited in Kennedy Meadows for some of the snow to melt or just skipped that section altogether with plans to circle back when conditions get better. Also a while back I saw some questions here about Forrester and Kearsarge Passes and when would it be best to hike them this year. Sunshine did them in mid June. And she has done 30 plus miles in a day with a real pack. To me, that is worth discussing. Read their journal, Sunshine is having the time of her life and Eric sounds like one heck of a father. They are NOT doing this trip for media coverage or to set any record; it is about hiking, nature and family. To me this adventure is worthy of donating money, and I challenge others to do so too.

From my perspective, trips like Jordan's Artic 1000, Skukra's adventures, Dave Chenault's Alaska Mtn Wilderness Classic, and similar trips are enjoyable reading and chock full of information I can or might use. These trips inspire me. And there are many others, some from famous people and many from everyday folks who are just like me.

This does not mean we should ignore other sports like ultra-marathoning, packrafting, mountaineering, or climbing. Many interesting posts and links to these are found here on BPL. Again a lot of interesting trips and information. Stuff that all of us can probably glean some new knowledge for our hiking endeavors. I learn a lot from all of this. Different sports, but a lot crosses over to backpacking. And sometimes little 3-day trip reports are great reading.

Everyone seeks different goals in their wilderness experience/adventures. One thing I see with the fast and light mindset is a huge dependence on outside support. People re-supply frequently and jump off the trail to get food, beds, and other amenities. Gosh, how much gas did Jennifer's husband burn in the past 47 days. And for what?

We make fun of the old traditional hikers, but with our big packs we were self-supported easily for 2 - 3 weeks, and even longer. And that is what we did. The wilderness was less crowded, rescue was less likely, and we did not have electronics to guide and protect us. We did not have published trail guides or trip reports to show us where to go. Heck a lot of us would get a road map, pick a spot that looked interesting, drive or hitch-hike there, get a map at a ranger station and go for a multi-week trip and not see a single person the entire time. But many on BPL would sure pooh-pooh someone who posted a trip report like that with a lot of the old gear and techniques where re-supply was not needed in a month long trip.

Regarding records. Records are meant to be broken. I love competition, and I enjoy it at the highest levels. A lot of us on BPL discussed Chris Solinsksy's 10K American Record last year because it was one of the longest standing records in track. It was a record the elite sought to break for many years. I am a distance running fan, and Chris inspires me. But I have no interest in someone who looks for some obscure event and tries to break a record with great public fanfare such as the American 1,000 or 2,000 yard record that is rarely contested, or any other record in a similar vein in any other sport or activity.

In closing, YMMV.



David T
(DaveT) - F
speeeeeed. on 08/04/2011 01:05:32 MDT Print View

+1 douglas (you got it).
+1 nick.


Edited by DaveT on 08/04/2011 01:10:33 MDT.

Michael Barber

Locale: Western NC Mountains
Impressive stroll in the woods either way on 08/04/2011 04:47:41 MDT Print View

Not my cup of tea, but very, very impressive. It doesn't bother me that they put it in the media. Some of the other adventures mentioned on this thread were also promoted to the media - complete with sponsors. As far as I can tell the only difference is whether you're inspired by an athletic achievement or a wilderness achievement. True enough, this particular achievement has almost nothing to do with backpacking and everything to do with hiking. So it just depends on what floats your boat I guess.

EDIT: removed image, expressed an opinion instead.

Edited by CuriousLayman on 08/04/2011 06:04:42 MDT.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: Re: back story on 08/04/2011 04:49:15 MDT Print View

Nick, very well said +1

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: back story on 08/04/2011 05:39:34 MDT Print View

Well said, Douglas and Nick. Well said.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
criticize on 08/04/2011 06:12:31 MDT Print View

The higher you think of yourself and the more attention you try to draw to your accomplishments, the more critical people will be of you. True on the trail and on this forum, which is why I think the critical post is getting the same treatment.

Edited by Kat_P on 08/04/2011 09:30:21 MDT.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 08:56:58 MDT Print View

Good post Brad. Not sure why others are so critical of someone reaching a milestone.

Brad Fisher

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 10:09:57 MDT Print View

Very impressive indeed. And I appreciate the extra details Nick provided that were not provided in the article. Not sure why that's being interpreted as criticism.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 10:51:57 MDT Print View

Yeah, that little girl hiking the PCT makes me feel like the biggest wuss ever! She and her mom and dad visited my mom at the half-way mark. My mom is now one of those crazy trail angel ladies.

I'm curious, is Jennifer Pharr Davis the same person as Hummingbird? Last year a small lady ran the PCT and went by the name Hummingbird. A friend of mine had dinner with her at Callahan's to celebrate her first 60 mile day.

Bob Salcedo
(Baughb) - F

Locale: So Cal.
I Hope... on 08/04/2011 14:27:49 MDT Print View

I hope to never be in that much of a hurry through such beautiful country whether on foot or bicycle or small plane.


Rob Lee
(roblee) - MLife

Locale: Southern High Plains
Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:15:46 MDT Print View

Jennifer, Brew, and their toddler daughter Charlie stopped in Lubbock this week and presented a program to a small group of mostly non-hikers at a library. They are a wonderful, friendly, and sharing family on a road trip/book tour. Her program was mostly about inspiration, growth, dreams, and challenge. She described her morphology from a career driven college grad in a cubicle into a fleet-footed life on the trail.Along that path were also many fulfilling experiences including love, marriage, faith, family,and a new focus for the future. She is an engaging speaker that presents quite an image with her 6' frame, large penetrating eyes, good grammar, audience interaction, and charisma. Brew is obviously her Rock. He was easy to talk to with a quick wit while lovingly letting us in on some of Jennifer's quirks. And Charlie is a sweetheart. Obviously content with a life on the road and quite willing to charm the audience. Maybe 2 years old and she has walked in 38 states already. This talk was not for gear geeks as she didn't mention a single brand name or sponsor and only mentioned a few items in general. She would have talked gear more, but the questions were mostly about life. She did talk about the "record" and made it clear it was an intensely coordinated group effort. The talk was free and they were there early and stayed late to talk with anyone wanting to know more. Of course, she had books to sell as that pays the bills.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:51:53 MDT Print View

thanks for this personal insight.
sounds like an event I would like to attend should it ever happen near me.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:55:26 MDT Print View

What was her new focus for the future? I am assuming no more record attempts.


Rob Lee
(roblee) - MLife

Locale: Southern High Plains
Re: Re: Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 21:22:49 MDT Print View

I asked "What's next?", and she was not specific; just that she hoped to continue career opportunities involving hiking, guiding, and writing,with a primary focus on raising Charlie. I was thinking there might be some other record attempt, but she offered nothing along that line.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Inspiration vs admiration/respect on 04/19/2014 18:02:12 MDT Print View

While I appreciate what Nick posted, I think it is worthwhile differentiating between being inspired by a stellar performance in an activity that we ourselves engage in passionately, and admiring a stellar performance in an activity that holds very little attraction for us personally. For me, Jennifer most certainly falls in the latter category, and all of the folks Nick mentioned fall in the former. Even within an activity, there are categories that may inspire or merely evoke admiration: trail hiking vs wild, off trail adventures; distance running on a track vs road racing vs cross country; Tour de France vs cyclo cross, etc.

For me, Jennifer most certainly falls in the latter category. Speaking as one who has run 50 miles, anyone who can run ~46 miles/day for 50 plus days on a trail as rough as the AT is reputed to be has my unstinting admiration and respect, even if it is something that has no appeal for me whatsoever. Ditto for the US 10K record holder. Track racing bores me silly, but running down in the mid 26 minute range is an awesome achievement. Let us celebrate all of those who excel in their activity and inspire others to do the same to the best of their abilities. It is hard, hard work, and they deserve our collective praise. My 2 cents.