Ultrarunner Smashes Appalachian Trail Record

He completed the 2,190-mile trek in 45 days, beating the prior record by 9 days
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2017 4:33 AM CDT
Ultrarunner Smashes Appalachian Trail Record
The weather-worn sign at the peak of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine.   (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

After making the final sprint up Maine’s Mount Katahdin in 37 sleepless, rain-soaked hours, Joe McConaughy now boasts the record for fastest time to complete the Appalachian Trail. McConaughy averaged about 48 miles per day to complete the 2,190-miles trek from Springer Mountain, Ga., to the top of Maine’s highest peak, reports the Boston Globe. He completed the hike in 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes—beating the prior record set in 2015 by nine days. (He also beat the “supported” record, which permits food and water delivery, by almost 10 hours.) Walking the trail typically takes hikers six months, but McConaughy, who ran cross-country track at Boston College, was looking for a new challenge.

"Everyone experiences hiking and the outdoors differently," McConaughy, whose trail name is Stringbean, told the Globe, adding that "when you’re healthy, it’s a lot of fun. And you get to eat a ton of food.” And eat he did, consuming 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day to maintain his pace. (His favorite trail food was Oreos). He says he saw plenty of wildlife during his rigorous hike, include 16 bears and four rattlesnakes, not to mention aggressive wasps that stung him throughout his trip. Other injuries he sustained include blisters, back pain, chafing, and a whopping seven sprains to his right ankle. On his Instagram page, McConaughy posted a recovery photo, calling his swollen feet elephant-sized and noting that he only lost five pounds on his journey. “It's a long road to recovery - but I smell oh so much better!” he wrote. (More record stories.)

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