Another Speed Record Set on the Appalachian Trail

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A few weeks back I posted a story about a hiker who claimed to have set a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail, although his time of 53 days, 22 hours, and 57 minutes was in dispute as some thought that it lacked proper evidence. Now, it seems that controversy is completely behind us, as another hiker has posted an even more impressive time for hiking the entire 2200 mile (3540 km) route end-to-end.

According to Gear Junkie, Joe McConaughy – who goes by the trail name “Stringbean” – launched his attempt on the AT speed record back on July 17 at 6:31 AM EDT. He began on Spring Mountain in Georgia, and began hiking north, reaching the end of the route on Mt. Katahdin in Maine 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes later. That not only smashes the old record for an unsupported trek – which stood at 54 days and change – but also the fastest known time by ultrarunner Karl Meltzer, who did the entire AT in 45 days, 22 hours, and 8 minutes.

For those keeping track at home, that means McConaughy averaged about 50 miles per day, each and every day, completely without outside help. That is an incredible pace over rough terrain and steep trails.

The new record has to be verified before it becomes official, but Gear Junkie says that it looks like that will happen. Apparently, McConaughy is well-known in the speed hiking community, and took great pains to document his journey throughout the trek. While his data is still being examined, it seems there will be no controversy here when it is all said and done. Not only did he announce his intentions to set the speed record ahead of time, he also provided independent witnesses with his SPOT tracking page to follow his progress along the way.

Gear Junkie says that McConaughy also set a speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2014, finishing that 2660 mile (4280 km) route in 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. Apparently, the 26-year old was a college cross country runner, which has translated quite nicely to his attempts at speed hiking as well.

Congrats to Joe on this amazing accomplishment. The bar has indeed been set high for anyone who follows.

Kraig Becker