Culture, Featured

WTF is a FKT? And does anyone care?

The world of trail-, mountain- and ultra running is a fast growing one. More and more amateur enthusiasts hit the trails and mountains to follow in the footsteps of the pro’s before them. And with this growth in popularity comes also the growth in record breaking attempts. But when not all records are established in official races, since not all trails are part of any, one has to rely on the fastest known time. Also known as the FKT.

The climbing sport simply calls it speed records but boils down to the same fenomenon of people tracking their best running/climbing times on obvious routes and lines. And as FKT’s gain more and more recognition in the trail-, mountain- and ultra running community, bigger, tougher and faster routes are being established and attempted. With ultra runner Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail speed record as the most recent example of this. Finishing the 2200 miles in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes.

You can go out to set a FKT on your own unsupported or be supported by a team. The advantage of other people involved in your trip, is they are also involved in the telling the story as well. And thus making your Fastest Known Time better known. Trail legend Buzz Burrell (pictured above) has proposed 3 common sense guidelines:

  • Announce your intentions in advance. Like a true gentleman/woman, 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.

With more and more people tracking and documenting their times and speeds on various platforms such as Strava, FKT’s are becoming wider known and also subject to record breaking attempts. Gone are the days that speed records were held for over thirty years. And as long as running trails and mountains grow in popularity and most will never become races, breaking a FKT is a tempting alternative to racing.