Publish date:

Karl Meltzer ran the Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history

Karl Meltzer ran the Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history

Karl Meltzer ran the Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history

Each year, roughly three million people hike the Appalachian Trail for at least one day, and just over 3,000 attempt to thru-hike the entire trail — which spans 2,190 miles over 14 states from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. This summer, Red Bull ultra-marathoner Karl Meltzer attempted to conquer the “A.T.” faster than anyone in history. The 48-year-old known as “Speedgoat” assembled a team consisting of his father, wife and several close friends. Approximately 4.3 million steps later, Meltzer owned the record (45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes). We caught up with “Speedgoat” — who is resting now.

How did you train for this?

The whole mental aspect of it is mind-boggling. Waking up every morning at 4:15 and knowing you have to jog, hike, walk, scramble around for 15 hours a day is daunting. But I’m an ultra-marathoner, I run about 70 miles a week in the mountains.

What did you eat?

My breakfast was very small. I ate yogurt every day, with a banana. Once I got going, they started feeding me more. I’ll eat anything, from bacon to honey buns to a large steak to good vegetables at dinner, some beets and asparagus, whatever they could cook. Fried chicken, pierogis, pasta. I remember sitting one place and someone brought a pint of ice cream. I think I consumed that in three minutes — a whole pint of ice cream. That sounds crazy, but your body is just like, “Give me food!”

Image placeholder title

Where did you go to the bathroom?

We’d find a place in the woods a little bit, dig a hole, I’d use it, then I would burn my toilet paper on the side somewhere safe, and then we’d cover the hole. My crew would do all that stuff for me.

Did you have any run-ins with any animals?

No negative run-ins. I saw six bears. But I do run with music, so I would assume that more bears saw me. I turn the music up, and I don’t worry about it. Saw a couple rattlesnakes, couple copperheads, a lot of deer, but nothing that was scary out of the ordinary.

What kind of music did you listen to?

Grateful Dead would be my go-to. But it wasn’t all Dead. It was just a lot of jam-band music from Phish to Strangefolk to Widespread Panic, a little John Denver mixed in there, too.

Image placeholder title

Recommended Articles

Did you suffer any injuries?

I had some bad days. I was injured through most of Pennsylvania. I had tendonitis of my right shin. Pretty standard for this overuse. Go figure, right?

Will you try to break your own record?

No. It’s too much of a journey of misery, man. No way! I’ve got nothing to prove. I’m going to just chill out and relax for a while.

On the Trail

Start: Aug. 3 at 5:00 a.m.

Finish: Sept. 18 at 3:38 a.m.

Time: 45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes

3.28 MPH average speed

4,330,207 steps taken

345,122 calories burned

22 pairs of shoes worn through

10,350 ounces of water consumed