Ultrarunner Kristian Morgan Sets New Appalachian Trail FKT
On September 16, 2023, British ultrarunner from London, Kristian Morgan, took his final jogging footsteps to the wooded summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail. As recorded on his Facebook page, after 45 days, 4 hours, and 27 minutes, surrounded by a cadre of family and support crew, his record-setting journey was over. During an unusually damp year that saw significant flooding across New England, Morgan was able to shave off over 18 hours from the previously held Fastest Known Time (FKT), set by ultrarunning legend, Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer in 2016.
The new southbound supported male record has since been verified by FastestKnownTime.com, which is as official as it gets these days. For context, the overall speed record on the Appalachian Trail is held by Karel Sabbe, who traveled northbound, setting a supported time of 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes in 2018. Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy holds the overall self-supported record which stands at 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes.
Big Numbers Boggle the Mind
Even though Morgan’s time is ‘only’ the second fastest that a human being has traveled the entire AT, it represents an incredible achievement, one that had been years in the making. As an accomplished ultrarunner, he was no stranger to traveling exceptionally long distances on foot, but it wasn’t until helping with Sabbe’s 2018 record-setting attempt that Morgan considered attempting his own FKT on the AT. Four attempts later, he “cracked the code” and finally pulled it off.
Using your handy dandy calculator will reveal that he averaged almost 49 miles per day, an insane proposition for anyone familiar with gravity. What’s more, his longest day was his last in which he traveled the final 85 miles to Springer in just 27 hours. Oh yeah, that was with 27,000 feet of elevation gain too. Crazy stuff.
Yet even with the insanely high mileage and wickedly wet trail conditions, Morgan claims a similarly astonishing number: 0. That’s the number of blisters he developed during his blitz from Maine to Georgia. And I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too, “I could set an FKT if I didn’t have blisters.” That may be true (or not), but Morgan credits this important success to his extensive ultrarunning experience. He goes on to outline his hard-won foot wisdom:
Our daily (my crew and I… Sharon Mullan ”Gun Section” and David Martin “Ice Man”) routine to keep my feet healthy for another 50-mile day included the following:
- End of day soak in warm water containing epsom salts.
- Removal of all dirt after soak using a soft-bristled brush and warm water.
- Drying feet after a long wet day using baby powder and if ever changing out wet socks and shoes at road crossings.
- Moisturizing feet after a dry day using a special foot cream.
- Ultra-thin socks from Darn Tough.
- Shoes used included SpeedGoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4 from Hoka.
- When sleeping with crew I filed down calluses.
- Massage on a spiky ball to release any built-up tension.
- I used a Theragun Prime angled sideways to Massage feet.
- Made sure to cut toe nails were as needed.
Due to the above, I never received a single blister on my feet. My feet never ached in the later stages of the 2200-mile run. Ultimately, helping me finish strong and set a new southbound record.
Sounds easy, right? Sidenote: Isn’t it loopy that Morgan bested Speedgoat’s SOBO FKT while wearing the shoe named after the legend himself?
Let the Good Times Roll
Additionally, an unorthodox method for staying loose both kept his legs limber and his heart light. Morgan regularly stopped running to dance and has the videos to prove it — just check out his Facebook page. Contrary to the endless grinding slog that many of us imagine when we think about most FKTs, it looks like Morgan might have actually had some fun during his attempt. “I use dancing on the Appalachian Trail to help keep the good vibes going also moving the hips is good for mobility.”
Good vibes, indeed. Congratulations Kristian and team. Fourth time’s the charm…
Featured image courtesy of Kristian Morgan.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.