Karel Sabbe, a 28 year-old Belgian dentist, set out on the Appalachian Trail on July 18, 2018 at Springer Mountain, Georgia with the goal of breaking the speed record for the 2,189-mile trail. After climbing the highest peaks of the trail such as Clingman’s Dome (6,643 ft), Mount Guyot (6,621 ft), and Old Black (6,370 ft), Sabbe reached the summit of Mt. Katahdin at 5,267 ft in Maine on August 28 with a time of 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes, breaking the previous record by over 4 days!
Sabbe now holds the overall speed record for the thru-hike, however the previous record holder Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy still holds his record of 45 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes in the unsupported category. Sabbe was supported by a crew throughout his journey, while McConaughy organized his aid and supplies on his own.
Average thru-hikers on the AT hike 14.2 miles per day and finish in 169 days, according to Adventure Sports Network. Sabbe averaged around 50 miles, or two marathons, per day. He used a tracker on his watch, as well as Strava updates when in cell-service to log his progress. He also signed forms, took photos at signs and landmarks, and met fellow hikers who acted as witnesses of his record-breaking feat.
Sabbe is now the first male to hold both the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail speed records at the same time. Heather “Anish” Anderson currently holds both records for women.