The act of setting FKTs (fastest known times) has been popular for decades. But in 2020, the endeavor saw more participation than ever before.
In 2020, FastestKnownTime.com received 3,054 FKT submissions in North America alone. “This is an almost 400% increase year over year,” said Fastest Known Time staffer Craig Randall. Worldwide, the site saw a 438% increase in participation.
And that surge of running, hiking, and biking as fast as possible was clearly evident to our staff as well — we covered more than 20 individual FKTs in 2020.
“For the fifth year in a row, we asked our voters to pick their five favorite men’s and women’s FKTs,” Randall said. The FKT team then counted the votes for each athlete and put together a final list.
Amazingly, three of the top 10 were the same route. Read on to see the top women’s and top men’s FKTs of 2020.
The Best FKTs of 2020
1. Kelly Halpin, Wind River High Route (WY)
Halpin broke the FKT for the Wind River High Route, running a 97-mile route with 30,000 feet of vertical gain. She finished in 2 days, 11 hours, 37 minutes.
“The majority of the route stays between 10,000 and 12,000 feet, over loose mountain passes, glaciers, snowfields, and alpine tundra,” Halpin said. “I didn’t pack sleeping gear or a shelter or a stove.”
2. Sabrina Stanley, Nolan’s 14 (CO)
In the summer of 2020, Nolan’s 14 (a route with a 15% overall success rate) saw five female FKTs in just 87 days. Stanley’s supported FKT of 2 days, 49 minutes came just 54 days after her first FKT record, besting both her previous time (by over 2 hours) and Meghan Hicks’ time (set in September) of 2 days, 2 hours, 32 minutes.
3. Sarah Hansel, Nolan’s 14 (CO)
Nolan’s 14 is grueling as is, but running it unsupported is even more of a task. In the same week that Joey Campanelli set his men’s unsupported record on the route, Hansel set her record for the first women’s unsupported.
Hansel ran northbound and finished in 2 days, 9 hours, 43 minutes.
4-5. (3-Way Tie): Michaela Osler Colorado Trail (CO) / Kaytlyn Gerbin, Wonderland Trail (WA) / Alyssa Godesky, Adirondack 46 High Peaks (NY)
Michaela Osler hiked (really, ran) the Colorado Trail in August 2020. She finished the 500-mile trail in 10 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes — 4 days ahead of schedule. And she hiked it self-supported.
Kaytlyn Gerbin completed her FKT on Mt. Rainier’s 93-mile Wonderland Trail in a speedy 18 hours, 41 minutes. She completed the route clockwise and supported, beating the previous record by over 3 hours.
Alyssa Godesky completed the 46 High Peaks route in the Adirondacks supported in 3 days, 16 hours, 16 minutes. She set the first and current women’s FKT for the 160-mile standard route.
1. Joey Campanelli, Nolan’s 14 (CO)
Campanelli completed the grueling Nolan’s 14, a 100-mile route with 44,000 feet of vertical gain in Colorado’s Sawatch Range. The route climbs 14 14,000-foot summits in a row. He finished in 1 day, 17 hours, besting the previous record by over 6 hours.
2. Joe McConaughy, Long Trail (MA, VT)
McConaughy, also known as “Stringbean,” set a record on the 273-mile trail that runs from the Massachusetts border through Vermont. He ran it unsupported from north to south in 4 days, 23 hours.
3. Eric Gilbertson, Rocky Mountain Slam (CO, MT, WY)
Eric Gilbertson originally had a 2-month international trip planned, but due to COVID-19, he ended up tackling the Rocky Mountain Slam instead. Gilbertson climbed the Slam (which consists of Colorado’s 14ers, Wyoming’s 13ers, and Montana’s 12ers, plus the Colorado Centennials for good measure) in 60 days, 9 hours.
He also recorded an FKT for Wyoming’s 13ers in the process.
4. David Alaya, Sierra High Route (CA)
David Alaya completed this 198-mile route unsupported in 4 days, 3 hours, 36 minutes. The impressive part? Besting the FKT from 2016 by 13 hours.
5. Adam Kimble, Tahoe Rim Trail (NV)
Adam Kimble’s FKT plan was insane: not just set a record on the Tahoe Rim, but beat out the previous record-holder, Kilian Jornet. Kimble did the 170-mile route with nearly 27,000 feet of gain in 1 day, 13 hours, 12 minutes.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of 2020 if there wasn’t some crazy FKT completed under lockdown.
One of FKT’s honorable mentions went to Cody Marett for his “Quarantined In-Room Marathon”: a little over 2,300 laps of his approximately 18m hotel room in Jeollabuk-do, Korea. Marett ran the quarantined 26.2 miles in 4 hours, 27 minutes, and 28 seconds.
It’s pretty hard to choose based on the sheer number of efforts completed this year, but we would also add Coree Woltering’s Ice Age FKT to the running.