joe stringbean mcconaughy running the Long Trail in vermont

‘Stringbean’ Ultrarunner Sets Speedy Record in the Name of Outdoor Equality

A runner just set a new record on Vermont’s Long Trail. And he’s using the FKT as a positive force for the greater hiking community.

Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy’s new record is one for the books — and not just because of his FKT. The ultrarunner and PCT and AT record-holder dedicated the effort to Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that celebrates Black people in the outdoors.

The Long Trail is a 273-mile footpath that runs from the Massachusetts border through Vermont. McConaughy’s plan was to complete the trek unsupported from north to south.

His decision to go forward with the run despite the current pandemic and movement for racial equality meant using the attempt as a platform for good. After recent racial injustices, namely the recent death of George Floyd, McConaughy made it a personal goal to fight for that cause.

“The outdoor community, especially in trail running and hiking, is predominantly white,” he wrote on his page. “The fight for racial equality should extend from our cities to our trailheads.” For these reasons, McConaughy also started a fundraiser where his supporters could donate.

Due to the number of donations, they had to raise the fundraising goal, which now sits at $12,000.

Setting the Long Trail Record

Setting an FKT usually means keeping weight down, but McConaughy chose to carry the symbolic weight of police brutality with him on his journey. He carried eight stones, with the names of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Manuel Ellis.

“My baseweight is the most precious resource on an unsupported through hike,” McConaughy wrote on his blog. “But the weight of these stones is well worth the burden.”

Despite the extra weight, Stringbean finished in 4 days, 23 hours, 56 minutes, beating the previous record by almost 24 hours. He traveled 273 miles with 65,000 feet of vertical gain, covering about 55 miles per day.

Stringbean’s time set a new overall record and a new men’s record.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.