Long Trail FKT Announcement

Long Trail FKT Announcement

This is one of 4 blog articles on the Long Trail in addition posts on Instagram and Strava that I’m currently writing. See links below.

Long Trail Announcement – Part I (congrats, you’re here)
Long Trail FKT Recap – Part II
Long Trail Gear List & Review – Part III
Long Trail Food & Sleep Strategy – Part IV

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.

To learn more about Outdoor Afro, visit their website. I ask that you consider donating to our fundraiser. More thorough details on this topic below.

Thank you to support from Columbia, COROS, Trailbutter, Pa’lante and Mountain Laurel Design.

Tracking:

On Trail Strategy:

Run StrategyA Distance (mi)A TOF (hr)A Sleep (hr)A CaloriesB DistanceB TOFB SleepB CaloriesC DistanceC TOFC SleepC Calories
Day 1601949000501768000451767500
Day 2601949000501768000451767500
Day 3601949000501768000451767500
Day 475230105007523010500501948000
Day 518704800481707800602309000
Day 600000000281005800
Totals2738712423002739118423002731032245300

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:
  1. Donate time and resources and support groups aimed at fighting the fight
  2. Use my platform to encourage others to do the same
  3. 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:

  1. Personal donation to Outdoor Afro, visit their website here.
  2. Spread awareness about Outdoor Afro, an organization that celebrates and inspires black connections and leadership in nature.
  3. 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.
  4. Acknowledge that this is representative of only a tiny fraction of the black lives lost to these injustices. 
  5. Educate myself (continuously) about racial history and systematic racism. Learn how to become actively anti-racist. 
Eight rocks with names of African Americans who died due to police brutality.
Eight rocks with names of African Americans who died due to police brutality.

Asks from other:

  1. To the outdoor community: 
    • Acknowledge the need for diverse voices and the lack thereof.
    • Actively promote the inclusion and participation of African Americans.
  2. 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:
  3. 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. 

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Garrett

    This is awesome, Joe! Thanks for bringing the community aspect back into running, even in a time where we’re limited to solo long runs and individual challenges like FKTs.

  2. Brandon

    Go get em, Joe! Great cause and an excellent adventure. Can’t wait to follow along.

  3. Nate Meloon

    Thanks for this SB! We became fans when you passed our home in Woodstock VT for the 2019 VT100 (though you were so fast we didn’t yet have our watermelon stand up 😆). Excited about your FKT attempt and grateful for your honesty/heart in raising awareness for anti-racism. Good luck!
    -Nate, Emily & kids

  4. Al

    Congratulations on the FKT – absolutely incredible. It would be interesting to learn more about your nutrition plan including the types of foods you eat and macros and so on. 8-10k kcals a day is a lot to consume!

    1. Joe McConaughy
      Joe McConaughy

      Thank you! I’m working at putting together a post-trip report where I will discuss food in more detail. Keep an eye out!

      The short story, I had an oreo/almond smoothie (aka water in a baggie) when I hit a caloric deficit on day 4! I had a throat infection that made it harder to eat as much food as I wanted.

  5. Crelatia

    Thanks, Brian! Your efforts have pushed me to think of ways to be a better Ally in my own neighborhood and in my endeavors. Thanks for speaking up and making your Long Trail success about more than just being the bad-ass runner/hiker that you are.

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