Well, it’s happened again. Another person has set a “supported” AT thru-hike speed record. Scott Jurek did it in 43 days. He beat the record set a couple of years back by Jennifer Pharr Davis. I have a few thoughts on this:
- Perhaps the greatest record on the AT was when O. d. Coyote took the longest time in history to complete a thru-hike 30 — or so — years ago. I suppose someone has done it in even more time since then, but the hike that Mr. Coyote described in his memorable book, Chained Dogs and Songbirds, was an odyssey much richer than most mortals will ever know.
- In a letter from Benton MacKaye in 1974, the AT visionary answered my question about his opinion of setting speed records on the AT. He told me that the AT was never envisioned as a race track and that in his opinion, “the prize should go to the person who took the longest time to complete the trail.”
- Having said all this, I still feel compelled to congratulate people such as Scott and Jennifer. As I understand it, they are both very nice people who treated other hikers with courtesy. As long as speed hikers do not feel they are “entitled” to special treatment, I say “God bless ’em!”
- I hope to meet Scott in a few days at the ATC Biennial in Winchester, VA. I will shake his hand and think to myself that he is a pretty good example to a generation that is in dire danger of atrophying in front of computer screens.
Stay vertical, y’all and keep walkin’! And don’t forget that THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story is available on Kindle. If you read it that way, promise to go for a long walk when you finish.