Planning your FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempts

Most trail and road races have been canceled and many runners are figuring out what challenges to take on next. From virtual races, to trail adventures and Fastest Known Time attempts, there are still plenty of options out there. It has been exciting to watch many new FKT’s being set in the past few months and weeks! 

Mt Baldy Bear Canyon route trail running

What’s the best way to attempt an FKT? 

Peter Bakwin and Buzz Barrell, two of the pioneers of the FKT movement in the 1990’s, run the go-to website fastestknowntime.com. This site has a "bucket-list” of the best routes in the world, FKT guidelines, athlete tracking and many articles about this topic. 

For an FKT, the route is notable and distinct enough so that others will be interested in repeating it.

Burrell has proposed three common sense guidelines for establishing a speed record:

  • Announce your intentions in advance. Pay your respects to those who came before you, and tell them what you intend to attempt and when.
  • Be an open book. Invite anyone to come and watch or, better yet, participate. This makes your effort more fun and any result more believable.
  • Record your event. Write down everything immediately upon completion. Memory doesn’t count.

These guidelines make it easier for people to believe you. That being said, verification of your FKT is important and an integral part of it. No verification = no FKT. 

Bear Canyon Trail Baldy PATH projects

Preparing for your FKT

You need a good plan before attempting an FKT. You can be out in remote locations and unlike a race, there is typically limited to no support out there. You don’t want to be caught off guard and get rescued off the trail. 

Pick a route that is in line with your abilities. For an FKT all that matters is the elapsed time, so from the start to the end without stopping your watch. There are many great trails and routes to go after. There is a list of 2232 routes on the FKT site

Mt Baldy Summit - PATH projects

10 current premiere routes for FKT’s are:

  • John Muir Trail, CA
  • Nolans 14, CO
  • R2R2R, AZ
  • Appalachian Trail, east coast
  • Wonderland Trail, WA
  • Long Trail, VT
  • Arizona Trail, AZ
  • Zion Crossing, UT
  • Colorado Trail, CO
  • Presidential Traverse, NH

Zion National Park - PATH projects

Once you know your route, prepare well. 

Read different blog posts, articles, reports from past and current FKT holders of this route. Learn from other people’s experiences, their highs and lows can give you invaluable insights for your upcoming adventure. Reach out to current and previous record holds to discuss your attempt with them. Take your time to plan your FKT in detail. 

Supported, self-supported or unsupported?

There are three different ways for support along each route, each have separate categories. 
  • Supported - a crew can meet you along the way for all support, except for physical assistance. They can make your food, set up your tent, give you massages, refill your water bottles, help with pacing, etc. Supported allows athletes to carry less weight which can result in faster times. 
  • Self-supported - you can have as much support as you can manage or find along the way, but nothing from pre-arranged people helping you. You can buy supplies along the way, send food in advance or find food and water along the way. 
  • Unsupported - no external support of any kind. You have to carry everything you need from start to finish, except water from natural sources. 

Running fast down a mountain - PATH projects FTK

For verification of your FKT, provide the following if possible: 

  • The original data file, usually in TCX, FIT, GPX, or KML format — copied directly from your device - GPX preferred.
  • A link to your activity on Garmin Connect, Movescount, Strava, etc.
  • A link to a trip report, if any.
  • Photos, submitting the original file; image files directly from the device contain valuable metadata that is stripped-out by social media sites. 

For renowned routes, it’s also best to provide a link to real-time tracking. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a great live tracking and safety tool, for example the SPOT or Garmin inReach.  

More details can be found here about the FKT Guidelinesthe FKT verification, and FKT FAQ.

FKT’s are a great way to experience the trails in an entire different way than an official race. With a solid plan and the right training, you are ready to go after it. Most probably you will still experience several highs and lows and that’s what turns these FKT attempts into exciting adventures. 

If you have attempted any FKT’s, set any FKT’s or are planning any, we can’t wait to hear more about it!

Check out our store for the finest running shorts, base liners, shirts and headwear to help you on your adventures and runs! 

 

Below are a few videos with more on Fastest Known Times.


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