This is Episode 119 of Talk Ultra and we have a 1-hour special interview with Speedgoat Karl Meltzer on his incredible record breaking FKT on the AT. We also have interviews with the male and female winners of the Superior 100, Mallory Richard and Frank Pipp. We have the news and Ian is going solo!
KARL ON THE AT
On Sept. 18 at 3:38 a.m 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.
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.
00:09:39 INTERVIEW WITH SPEEDGOAT
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK well I have a first copy in my hand and I have to say I am somewhat pleased and happy. It’s taken a couple of years and at times it never felt quite real. The book in my hand confirms it is real and Spanish, German, Italian and UK versions will be available in the coming months. I believe Spain is first (September) Italy is October and the UK November. I don’t have a date on the German edition yet! – HERE
Pipp crossed the line in 20:24:00 a superior, Superior 100 champion. His run for a rookie 100-mile runner was incredible. Uhan had run a clever and smart race, he had saved something for those closing challenging miles and he pulled away from Jenkins and Schwarz-Lowe. His finish 22:46 was a solid 8-minutes ahead of Jenkins who had no doubt had the race of his life… he had managed to pull ahead of Schwarz-Lowe and take the final podium place by just 1-minute. But this only tells half the story. In the closing miles, under darkness, tired, fatigued and lacking focus, Jenkins had run into a head height true branch that cut his head open sending him flat to the ground. Somehow he managed to pick himself up and find the effort and pace to hold off a charging Schwarz-Lowe.
Richard finished next, first lady and 5th overall with a new course record 23:51. Her performance was stunning and almost looked effortless. It was impressive! Tina Johnson finished 2nd and Stephanie Hoff 3rd, 29:50 and 30:52 respectively. Queen of the Superior 100 finished 4th in 31:07 and in doing so, achieved her 16th buckle.
02:20:22 INTERVIEW with MALLORY RICHARD
RUN RABBIT RUN
Alex Nichols runs his first 100 wins in 17:57 and takes home 12,000 dollars. Nice! Mark Hammon 2nd in 19:19 and Kyle Curtin 3rd 19:27. Incredibly Jeff Browning was 4th… he is having some year!
Courtney Dawalter won the ladies race (not a nam I know) ahead of Alissa St Laurent and Nicole Kalogeropoulos. Their times 21:23, 22:38 and 23:10.
Notable drops were Nikki Kimball who has won the race in the past and Sage Canaday dropped in the men’s race.
Darcy Piceu came from behind to win in 23:15 and Trevor Fuchs 21:13
DEVILS RIDGE 70K
Yun Yanqiao run 6:30 to finish 11 minutes in front of Francois D’Haene. In the women’s race, Lucy Bartholomew pipped Sally McRae.
It’s the crux day’s now as Karl comes to the end of this epic journey, physically and mentally tired, he needs to continue to dig deep as he covers over 50-miles a day. The terrain is getting more challenging but Karl is prepared, he knows what needs to be done and if that means pulling an all-nighter, he thinks he has it in him – go Karl!
Many thanks to Eric, Senior, Karl and Red Bull for the continued support.
Day 40 Tennessee
Two ‘AT’ legends, Dave Horton and Scott Jurek, started the day with Karl and crewed him for the first few stops. Dave had to leave the trail early but had some very important and inspiring words… “You can do it, but you should quit now if you don’t plan on beating Scott’s record.”
40 days have passed since Karl left Mt. Katahdin in Maine and Scott is now helping with the journey. Physically, Karl hasn’t changed much; he appears to have lost maybe five pounds. Mentally though, the 40 trail days are showing their toll as one can only imagine. Karl is getting more particular about his diet, and he’s not so quick to laugh and joke with the crew anymore. Senior and Eric are doing an incredible job and yes, Karl is putting one foot in-front of the other but think about the impact on the crew? Karl managed 47.3 miles. It’s all about strategy now but if Karl needs one or two BIG days, I believe he has it in him, both physically and mentally. Karl will head toward Hot Springs tomorrow, an iconic trail town.
Day 41 North Carolina
Speedgoat is maintaining a pace between fast hike and a jog on trail that varies between farmland and forest. He is still holding up well physically. Today was another 50+ day and all is looking good. Throughout the the day, Scott Jurek supported and has commented on how he was confidence that Karl will set a new AT FKT! The terrain over the next few days is challenging but like I keep saying, the barn is smoking and Speedgoat can smell it more and more.
Eric and ‘Senior’ are keeping Karl on track. It’s a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows and at times it has looked a little stressful but as I have said all along, Speedgoat has gone into this AT attempt with a complete understanding of what needs to be done… He learned this in 2015 when crewing Scott and he witnessed it in the latter stages when Scott pushed on and on relentlessly. As I write this, Karl is through day 38 with 1761-miles covered and 428-miles to go. Karl would say to me, “I can smell the barn!” And yes, a very feint smell of the barn may well fill Speedgoat’s nostrils but he has got some seriously long and hard days ahead. In the true sprit of the sport, Scott Jurek and Jenny Jurek have now joined Karl on the trail and they will help push through and hopefully all Speedgoat to achieve his dream. We have an epic couple of weeks ahead!
Many thanks to Karl, Eric and Red Bull for the continued support and help.
Day 29 Virginia
This morning Karl and crew woke up amongst white-tailed deer. This 107-mile stretch of trail through Shenandoah truly is beautiful. Karl’s progress is going well and the shin that was bothering him is now taped and feeling much better. Pain free, Karl can pick up the pace and today he logged 50.4 miles. The routine is run/jog/ hike, stop, ice, eat, sleep and repeat. The AT is not easy but today was a good day!
Day 30 Virginia
Karl exited the Shenandoah National Park today after a little more than two days. Karl’s foot blisters are flaring up a little but he is still pushing. Some new lunch options are helping keep spirits up with Karl trading in his PB&J for pork sliders. tonight the crew planned to stop at 1800 but Karl felt strong and insisted that he kept going… He covered another 11 miles and racked up 60 miles. Yes, 60 miles. Karl is killing it and whether he sets the record or not I personally and blown away by his tenacity. Rest is key but Karl didn’t hit the sack till midnight.
Day 31 Virginia
A busy day on the Blue Ridge Parkway section and Karl was extremely fatigued. Sometimes you need to know when not to push on and those extra 11 miles the previous day may well have been 11 miles too far! He was sluggish but still smiling though. At midday, Karl came off the trail limping. The blister under his foot had filled with fluid and he couldn’t apply any pressure. The crew jumped into action, drained the blister, bandaged Karl up and he continued on at jogging pace. Karl crossed the James River Footbridge which is an iconic and beautiful spot on the Appalachian Trail. Karl ate two steaks for dinner and then went to bed.
Day 32 Virginia
Karl is holding up well considering the fatigue, he also hopes that the bottom of his foot stays dry so the blister can heal. Health is as important as fitness and success on the AT can really come down to the small things. Karl slept on the trail tonight at Scorched Earth Gap. Today Karl did an astonishing 57 miles…
Day 33 Virginia
Bedding down on the trail last night was almost a fatal decision for Karl’s AT attempt. Karl and crew could have pushed on for 4 miles and had the comfort of the van, instead Karl just crashed on the trail… he had a bad night’s sleep. Desperate and drained, Karl stopped mid trail in the morning and sept. His crew found him, face down, sleeping in the dirt. They pushed him on to McAfee Knob where the van had stopped. For three hours Karl slept, it was needed! But Karl woke up and disappeared without saying a word. The crew met him at the next stop and a pint of ice cream worked wonders. Two minutes later, the pint was gone and Karl was off. Karl’s friend Dave, met him on the trail later in the day with some fried chicken and the reassuring words of, ‘you can do this, the question is, do you have the grit?’ – I think we all know the answer. Karl is digging deeper than he ever has with a real understanding of what needs to be done. After two more sections. Karl stopped. He insisted he couldn’t go any further without getting more sleep – everyone agreed! It was a 23-mile day and just goes to show how tough and challenging the AT is. It was a real low day on the AT for Karl.
Day 34 Virginia
Karl woke up rested today from a long night’s sleep/ He started off charging hard. Have no doubts, Karl knows exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis to beat this AT record and he has the blinkers on… In all honesty, he had the blinkers on right from day one. The AT has thrown its ups and downs – what else would one expect from the AT. Karl bounced back today with a 50+ day. Karl was jogging a great deal more today because the terrain is pretty slick. There are hills here but nothing drastic. Karl has a tight gap to beat the AT record and he attributes his motivation to his wife, Cheryl. Karl is optimistic though and he has 12-days to push. Karl pushed on for an additional 16-miles today with Cheryl by his side. When they finished, Eric had pasta waiting. From here on in it’s 50 miles a day for Speedgoat to beat the record… Pretty sure the arrival of Scott and Jenny Jurek will help!
Day 35 Virginia
Karl woke up tired, it was tough to get going but the routine clicked as the morning wore on. Terrain has some rocks and is mountainous but not as severe as Pennsylvania. The miles are beginning to even out and Karl is in good spirits, that is really important as what lies ahead is tough. A variety of food keeps rolling along and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a hit. It was a 49.2-mile day and Speedgoat is on track for the record.
The arrival of Scott Jurek and David Horton no doubt is a super motivation for Karl. Scott (and Jenny) now plan to return the favour Karl gave in 2015 to Scott’s successful record. David has had to return back to work but with this crew and Scott pushing, the chances of getting the record is increasing despite the tough and challenging target of 50 miles a day. Like I said, Karl knows what he has to do!