Man oh man, the Colorado trail running community has seen two new fastest known times (FKT’s) this past week and they are a doozy. Both FKT’s are on Colorado’s infamous ‘Nolan’s Route’– a 100+ mile trek that ascends 14 peaks over 14,000 feet for an approximate grand total of 40,000 feet of elevation gain. For perspective, Everest is 29,028-feet high.
The route runs North-South through the Sawatch range of Western Colorado. And although there are established trails that connect the 14 peaks, runners can elect to pursue more direct routes to connect the peaks that include bushwacking, dangerous ridgeline traverses, and exposed scrambles. Running this route, much less attempting an FKT, poses some very legitimate risks for those brave enough (or perhaps insane enough) to give it a shot. Runners (including the veterans) often get lost, the weather in the Colorado mountains is unpredictable and volatile, and the exposure on some traverses can be vertigo-inducing.
With all that in mind, these two FKTs are pretty dang impressive. On Wednesday, July 1, Sarah Hansel set a new women’s unsupported FKT with a time of 2 days, 9 hours, and 43 minutes. The following day, Joey Campanelli set a men’s unsupported record time of 1 day, 17 hours, and 3 minutes. The previous record times were 2 days, 11 hours, 36 minutes and 1 day, 22 hours, and 41 minutes, respectively.
Both FKTs were unsupported attempts, which meant that each runner had to carry all their own food, water, and gear without any outside assistance. Furthermore, despite the fact that these were unsupported FKTs, both Hansel and Campanelli ran fast enough to break the overall records on ‘Nolan’s Route’. This ultimately means that they ran faster than previous runners who were supported on this heinous route.
‘Nolan’s Route’ is no joke – only about 15% percent of those who attempt it, actually finish. Major kudos to Sarah Hansel and Joey Campanelli for this monstrous feat of human endurance and will-power. These two runners are hardcore!