The 48-year-old Red Bull athlete completed the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail in a record 45 days 22 hours and 38 minutes

Incredible last effort produces 83 miles after completing 44 consecutive days of 47-mile hikes

SPRINGER MOUNTAIN, GA., SEPT. 18, 2016 — On Sept. 18 at 3:38 a.m., professional ultrarunner and Red Bull athlete Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer emerged from the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Ga., and set a new Appalachian Trail thru-hike speed record with a time of 45 days 22 hours and 38 minutes.  Meltzer started his supported run at 5 a.m. on Aug. 3 from Mt. Katahdin, Maine, and averaged approximately 47 miles per day at a pace of 3.2 miles per hour.  Meltzer’s time beats the previous record by more than 10 hours, which was set by Scott Jurek in 2015.

Today’s accomplishment for Meltzer comes after two previous speed record attempts on the Appalachian Trail in 2008 and 2014.

“It’s been a long journey,” Meltzer said.  “I’ve been trying to get this record for eight years, and I was finally successful.  It just took me three tries to do it.  It’s a very special time right now, definitely a stamp on my career.”

The project, in planning for more than two years, was accomplished with a small core crew consisting of Meltzer’s father, Karl Sr., and crew chief Eric Belz.  Others joined the crew to support Meltzer for short periods throughout the hike, including Meltzer’s wife and fellow ultrarunners.   The crew traveled alongside Meltzer every day, providing him with food, water, medical attention and logistical support.  Meals were prepared and taken in a van, which also served as Meltzer and Belz’s sleeping quarters.

“Eric Belz was the best.  Karl Senior was amazing,” Meltzer said of his crew.  “For the crew, enduring 46 days of this was probably harder for them than it was for me. Without them it wouldn’t have happened.”

Meltzer’s time on the trail typically began around 5 a.m. and ended between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with several big meals during the day consisting of steak, fried chicken, ice cream, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers, steamed vegetables, pasta, Red Bull and beer (at dinner).  Meltzer averaged 60-70 minutes between the time he came off the trail and when he went to sleep; on a few occasions he slept on the trail itself rather than in his support van.

After completing nearly 46 consecutive days, Meltzer took approximately 4.2 million steps (92,300 avg. per day), burned 345,100 calories (7,500 avg. per day), ran for 678 hours (14.8 avg. per day) and used up 20 pairs of shoes.  Meltzer’s crew kept up with him using a satellite-linked SPOT tracker that reported his current location every two-to-three minutes.

The Appalachian Trail runs from Maine to Georgia stretching 2,190 miles through 14 states.  It is roughly the distance between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as the crow flies.  A thru-hiker will experience 464,500 feet of elevation change, or 16 climbs of Mt. Everest.  Thousands of people attempt an Appalachian Trail thru-hike every year, yet only one in four hikers finish the journey, and they typically take five to seven months to complete the entire trail, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“The highlight of the trail is sitting here (at the end), but it’s also the magic of the place.  Just being on the trail is really a highlight,” Meltzer said.

Karl will speak with Ian and this coming week and of course we will have a Talk Ultra Special within 2-weeks… Karl needs a break!

Speedgoat Karl Meltzer #AT Appalachian Trail FKT – Day 36-39 Update


Can you smell the barn? Karl can! Yes folks, it’s on… no guarantees as anything can happen but Karl is in the final phase and all is looking good.


Day 36 Virginia

Today was a great day as Karl consistently jogged through the day. Billy, one of Karl’s many friends, joined the crew today. Terrain is mostly hills and farmland, today, Karl could be heard ‘mooing’ at cows as he ran past… the trail is affecting his mind! Currently they are in Southern Virginia near the Tennessee and North Carolina borders. Picking up speed is really helping Karl’s morale as he enters this crux phase. It’s all about head down and push on now. After 1800-miles it would be easy to be negative but Karl is keeping super positive and yes, he is still joking. Today he knocked off 57.5 miles. Let’s be serious here, most of us would be happy with that for just 1-day, never mind after 36-days after relentless fatigue.

Day 37 Virginia

The day started with great spirits, maybe the best mood of this whole trip. It’s easy to understand why, he is ahead on the trail and on record pace. He passed through Grayson Highlands State Park today, a place in southwest Virginia. This area is known for its free-roaming wild ponies. Cheryl is back with the team and she and Billy hiked in to crew Karl. Temperatures are cooler and running conditions are good. Karl, as required to complete the FKT is now maintaining 50-miles per day. His attitude is really positive and like I said in the last few days, he can smell the barn! All the positivity is also boosting the crew; the next 4-days are crucial.

Day 38 Virginia / Tennessee

Cheryl and Billy left Karl today, it was a potential down moment but Karl got on with the job, the end is in sight and he knows he is in the home straight. The trail is becoming more difficult as Karl heads south. Hills have become mountains and the 50-mile a day target becomes harder but Karl is prepared. Blinkers are on and despite a tough day, Speedgoat covered 55.6 miles. He’s getting it done!

Many thanks to Red Bull, Speedgoat, Eric and the crew for the support and help.

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Day 39 Tennessee 

Speedgoat arrived in Tennessee last night. No need to tell you, he is on a mission and as I have said on many occasions, Karl has known, right from day 1 what he needed (needs) to do to break this record. Aid stops are now just an inconvenience; he wants to get back on the trail. David Horton joined him on the trail today, a real plus and a great boost. David very much pioneered what was possible on the AT. Scott and Jenny Jurek are here now too. Scott will be instrumental in helping Karl achieve his lifelong goal. Karl stopped short of his daily target but there is no concern that this will impact on his record attempt. The record is looking good and if I were a betting man, I’d say Karl has got this… he has some flexibility on time and if required, he can push on with very little break in the last days. We discussed this before the attempt and he said, ‘if it’s required, I can do it!’


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As I write this, Karl has approximately 237-miles to go to arrive at Springer Mountain. To break the record for the Appalachian Trail he must arrive there before 1:07 PM (local time) on Sunday. Eric is still crewing with Senior and Scott and Jenny Jurek are helping him along….