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Long Trail FKT Info
Start Date: 6/10/20, hopefully around 5AM
Style: Unsupported, southbound. No resupplies, aid or assistance. Gear List (link).
Long Trail FKT Fastest Known Time Record Holders (click for more info)
- Jeff Garmire (unsupported, male) – 5d23h48m
- Jonathan Basham (supported, male) – 4d12m46m
- Nika Meyers (unsupported, female) – 6d11h40
- Alyssa Goedesky (supported, female) – 5d7h37m
The fight for racial equality should extend from our cities to our trailheads. The outdoor and trail running community is predominately white. I am hoping that this run will inspire both myself and others and take action and seek education. I hope to promote accessibility to the outdoors and the work of organizations like Outdoor Afro.
Thank you to support from Columbia, COROS, Trailbutter, Pa’lante and Mountain Laurel Design.
On Trail Strategy:
|Run Strategy||A Distance (mi)||A TOF (hr)||A Sleep (hr)||A Calories||B Distance||B TOF||B Sleep||B Calories||C Distance||C TOF||C Sleep||C Calories|
Outdoor Afro and Equality:
The outdoor and trail running community are predominately white, FKT records have been pioneered by white faces, and Vermont is one of the least diverse states in the US. The fight for social justice should extend from our cities to our trailheads.
As a white, male trail runner, I have always been encouraged and easily fit into the ultrarunning scene surrounded by similar looking runners. Through this run and my platform, I am taking personal action and will continue to educate myself and hope to spread awareness for Outdoor Afro and equality/social justice movement. Having not experienced microagressions or systemic racism, I can’t claim to be an expert on this topic.
Thanks to the support of two wonderful individuals, Katie McConaughy and Yassine Diboun (a teammate who wrote a wonderful narrative on race and trail running for Trail Running Magazine), I have taken the step to be an advocate and speak out. I know I will make mistakes and have already made some, however I am observing, listening and learning. Katie and Yassine have helped me think about this issue critically to even be able to take a stand. That is the first step.
Here are some hard hitting thoughts I’ve had in the past few weeks.
- I’m an avid trail runner and have wanted to do the Long Trail for a long time. However, I spent a lot of time debating whether this made sense to do before we relocate to the West Coast due to 1) a pandemic 2) a historic moment in the movement for racial equality. This is a time of mourning, a time of acknowledgement, protest, and a demand for better. An FKT seems like a distraction, something without reason or purpose, and something that is utterly self-serving in a time of uproar, violence, and activism. The last thing I want to do is detract from the events taking place and the movement that has at last gained some momentum.
- How would going for a 270 mile run in the woods help the cause? Is my ability to do this just another key sign of my white privilege?
- Yes – to both questions. As I pour over social media, I see friends speaking out, raising money, and protesting in inspiring scenes from across the national cities. What do I need to be doing and how do I do my part?
- Where Katie & I landed: We decided to repurpose my Long Trail FKT attempt to make some headway towards these ongoing goals. I am committed to using my position of white privilege to:
- Donate time and resources and support groups aimed at fighting the fight
- Use my platform to encourage others to do the same
- Educate myself about the historical and systematic racism that has existed throughout the country.
- I have to acknowledge that this attempt is something I have always wanted to do, even before our country finally opened its eyes to what has been going on. BUT. I want to dedicate this run to the black men and women who have been victims of racism and police brutality. To the people towards whom I have displayed unintentional racism. To the times that I should have spoken up and did not. Coming to this realization as a 28 year old is tough, and I have a long way to go. I still don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I do know that trail running has been my outlet, my place to process and my community for at least the last 6+ years. I feel beyond lucky to have had a wide open door to outdoor experiences and opportunities.
- The outdoor community that gives me life, purpose and inspiration is missing black people. This population is grossly underrepresented in all outdoor recreational activities, and hiking and trail running are no exception. This is just one of a million different ways that systematic racism in this country manifests itself. There are an overwhelming number of articles & books to read, documentaries to watch, causes to donate to, but I am choosing to focus on this specific manifestation that is near and dear to my heart, and to which I feel an enormous obligation to help change.
Components of Run:
- Personal donation to Outdoor Afro, visit their website here.
- Spread awareness about Outdoor Afro, an organization that celebrates and inspires black connections and leadership in nature.
- Carry the weight of stones representing only a fraction of the black lives lost to unjust police brutality. I will carry eight stones that weigh a total of 13.5oz. My baseweight is the most precious resource on an unsupported through hike. I cut my toothbrush in half, for heavens sake. But the weight of these stones is well worth the burden and is something that I need to live with. As a society and especially me as a white man, this is weight we must bear. We picked 8 stones to reference the #8CANTWAIT campaign. Each stone has a name in honor of a black individual who died from either unjust police brutality or murdered as a result of racist bigotry:
- Trayvon Martin – Florida
- Ahmaud Arbery – Georgia
- George Floyd – Minneapolis
- Tamir Rice – Ohio
- Eric Garner – New York
- Freddie Gray – Maryland
- Manuel Ellis – Tacoma
- Breonna Taylor – Kentucky
- There are MANY more names on this list that could have been included, and I regret not being able to honor more individuals.
- Acknowledge that this is representative of only a tiny fraction of the black lives lost to these injustices.
- Educate myself (continuously) about racial history and systematic racism. Learn how to become actively anti-racist.
Asks from other:
- To the outdoor community:
- Acknowledge the need for diverse voices and the lack thereof.
- Actively promote the inclusion and participation of African Americans.
- Donate and continue to donate time and resources to organizations that promote equality. I am donating to Outdoor Afro, mentioned above. While not comprehensive, here is a small list of organizations you can consider:
- Join me in getting educated about the historical and systematic racism that exists in this country. What resources have been most eye opening and impactful for you? Please share recommendations that you’ve found helpful.