Running through 14 states in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes may be a long and arduous journey, but as of this week it's also the fastest any person has ever completed a supported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Karl Meltzer, a 48-year-old ultrarunner who also holds a world record for winning 38 100-mile runs, beat the record his friend Scott Jurek, six years his junior, set last year by 10 hours, reports Runner's World. To do this he had to endure a grueling regimen of nearly 50 miles in 15 hours every day, so it's not surprising that he ran through 20 pairs of shoes and, unlike the vegan diet kept by Jurek, indulged in bacon, steak, fried chicken, burgers, ice cream, PB&Js, candy, and at the end of each day, beer, reports Running. "It's been a long journey," he said, quite literally.
The Appalachian Trail winds its way 2,190 miles through often rough terrain from Maine to Georgia—which, as the crow flies, is about the distance from Los Angeles to Washington, DC— providing runners with almost 465,000 feet of elevation change (that's like summiting Mt. Everest 16 times, minus the thin air). Of the thousands who attempt the thru-hike each year, one in four makes it and most take six months. Meltzer, who the New York Times reports used to be a ski-resort bartender, endured less than seven hours of sleep a night and, in his final push, covered 83 miles nonstop between Saturday morning and 3:38am Sunday. He celebrated by downing a pepperoni pizza and beer and going straight to sleep. (This woman ran the same stretch in 54 days without a support van.)