Belgian ultrarunner Karel Sabbe jogged into the record books on Saturday, completing the Pacific Crest Trail in an unofficial 46 days, 12 hours, and 50 minutes, according to his GPS tracking data. His extraordinary effort breaks the previous record by five days and four hours and reclaims his title, Gregory Thomas reports for the SF Chronicle.
Pacific Crest Trail, you are the most beautiful, epic trail in the world.
Reached the Canadian border 46 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the Mexican border, breaking the record by 5 days 4 hours 🚀.
Average miles per day: 58.1
Average kms per day: 94
What a journey!
Thanks @karelsabbe_crew for the incredible effort ❤️.
And now some sleep 😴.
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The Belgian dentist turned endurance athlete set the record for the same trail back in 2016 with a time of 52 days. Timothy Olson bested Sabbe’s PCT record last year, completing the trail in 51 days, 16 hours, and 55 minutes. Sabbe finished the 1,691.7-mile Californian section in a record 29 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes, averaging 58 miles (94km) daily.
Sabbe started his journey on July 10 from Campo, California, near the Mexican border, enduring triple-digit heat as he moved through Southern California, Thomas writes. Despite treacherous conditions, he finished his monumental feat at the Canadian border, located in Washington State’s woods, including deep snow in the High Sierra and recent wildfires in Washington State forcing trail closures.
Unlike most PCT thru-hikers who opt for a self-supported journey, Sabbe and his team arranged for support crews to provide food, shelter, and treatment.
This journey had additional challenges. Wildfires raging in Washington forced Sabbe to reroute approximately 70 miles from Suiattle Pass to the Methow River Trail intersection, adding distance and difficulty to his trail.
Despite the adversities, Sabbe appeared upbeat in occasional Instagram updates. “The PCT is the most magnificent trail in the world, and at the moment, there’s no place I’d rather be,” he said in a video post last week.
Earlier this year, Sabbe became the 17th finisher of the notoriously difficult Barkley Marathons, calling it “the most extreme thing I will and can ever do.”
The PCT spans 2,653 miles from Mexico to Canada, traversing the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, the Sierra Nevada, and Cascade mountain ranges, with a cumulative elevation gain of 400,000 feet.