Karel Sabbe Appalachian Trail

Karel Sabbe Smashes Appalachian Trail Record By 4 Days

Belgian dentist Karel Sabbe topped Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy’s overall time on the Appalachian Trail and now holds the supported thru-hike record.

The Appalachian Trail (AT) speed record now stands at 41 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes. Karel Sabbe crossed the trailhead at Mt. Katahdin on Tuesday, completing the 2,189-mile AT faster than anyone before him.

The previous record of 45 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes, set by Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy in 2017, still stands as the self-supported AT record.

And this isn’t the first time the 28-year-old Sabbe has topped a major thru-hike record. In fact, it’s not the first time he’s bested McConaughy. Sabbe also beat McConaughy’s supported record on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2016 — a record that still stands.

And with his performance on the AT, Sabbe now holds both AT and PCT FKTs at the same time. Heather “Anish” Anderson holds both records for women on the AT and PCT.

In the year 60 B.C., Julius Caesar wrote: “Of all Gauls, the Belgians are the bravest.” Over 2000 years later there is still some truth in that sentence. We have set a new speed record on the epic Appalachian Trail !! The Fastest Known Time is now 41 days 7 hours 39 minutes, which is over 4 days faster than the previous record, held by an incredibly strong and unsupported @thestring.bean. I want to thank my dear friend @jorenbiebuyck from the bottom of my heart as without his incredible crewing and support I would never have made the PCT as well as the AT speed records. Fun facts: nobody has ever held Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail speed records at the same time. Nobody had averaged more than 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail. More than proud, I feel privileged for having lived these incredible adventures. It was a blast from start to finish ! Thanks @skinssportwear for making this possible, without you there would have been no new FKT. Thank you everybody for the support! #AppalachianTrailSpeedRecordAttempt #teamSKINS #BestInCompression #HOKAONEONE#TimeToFly #TraKKs #Suunto #Selfpropelled#Ledlenser #kleankanteen #nordisk #trekneat #ultramarathon#speedrecord #AppalachianTrail #ultrarunning #ultratrail #trailrunner #trailrunning

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Karel Sabbe Sets Appalachian Trail FKT

Sabbe began his AT attempt on July 18, heading north from Springer Mountain in Georgia. He claimed his intent on FastestKnownTime.com and used a tracker to mark his progress. He also updated his Strava data as cell service allowed to verify the record.

What’s more, Sabbe notified Guinness of his attempt as a certifiable world record. He said, “Because it is nice to go for an official world record and to have a neutral and professional instance analyze all my data and claims.”

For the FKT, Sabbe averaged a blistering pace — roughly 53 miles per day for more than 41 days straight.

Sabbe also documented his final steps into the record books on Facebook:

Because it was a supported effort, Sabbe had a crew following along and providing aid and supplies when needed. This is different than self-supported attempts, in which hikers coordinate all their own supplies and gear.

Congrats to Karel Sabbe for the monumental effort!

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.