On March 29, 2023, Jason Hardrath came jogging across the finish having just run 43 miles, summiting and circumnavigating a gigantic volcano. And in doing so, he set the fastest known time (FKT) for that infinity loop.
Hardrath’s completed over 100 FKTs in his career, but this one was unlike any other he’s attempted so far. Not because he was running an infinity loop on a volcano — Hardrath has done that before. He completed an FKT of the Mt. Rainier infinity loop (the original infinity loop) in 2019.
This particular FKT was unique because he ran 43 miles, all at elevations between 11,000 and 18,000 feet above sea level. This one was unique because he was running on the tallest volcano in North America: Mexico’s Pico de Orizaba.
“The lowest point we get to on the whole thing is, for less than a mile, down to 11,180 [feet],” Hardrath told GearJunkie prior to his attempt. “The rest of the time we’re usually on the trail circumnavigating where I think the average comes out to 13,900 or 13,800 feet.”
And twice they’d breach 18,000 feet, he noted.
It wasn’t easy. Especially since he completed the loop in just 23 hours and 40 minutes. But Hardrath was confident about this FKT prior to the attempt. When he spoke with GearJunkie, he was in his elementary school PE office, the wall behind him plastered with bib numbers from too many races to count. Against the wall, his bags were packed and ready to go.
“Today’s parent-teacher conferences,” he said. “So I’ll basically drive away from work, straight down to Sacramento to catch my flight overnight to Mexico.”
What kind of gear was in those bags? What did Hardrath take on his FKT attempt of the tallest volcano in North America? Hardrath walked us through his gear list.
Hardrath and the Seven Summits: Infinity Loop FKT Project
The original infinity loop was established on Mt. Rainier by the infamous Washington mountaineer Chad Kellog. He designed an approach that would circumnavigate the entire volcano. To complete it, you’d climb up one side and down the other, make a half circle around one side, back to your starting point, reascend, redescend, and then complete the half circle on the other side.
Hardrath completed the Rainier infinity loop in 2019 and said that it was a very special moment for him.
“I had this huge breakthrough,” he said. “It was more miles than I’d ever done and more vert than I’d ever done in a single push. So it was just this huge kind of next-level push for me.”
Not to mention the two glaciated routes he had to navigate, and the fact that he did it self-supported.
It was a pivotal moment for Hardrath. Kellog had designed the Rainier infinity loop for Mt. Rainier. But he’d left the idea open-ended — that such a loop could be accomplished on any free-standing volcano in the world. So Hardrath did exactly that; he established an infinity loop on Mt. Shasta and repeated the infinity loops on Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
And now, he’s taking this idea abroad. He hopes to establish (and bag FKTs for) infinity loops on the Volcanic Seven Summits — the tallest volcanoes on every continent on Earth. He started this week with Pico de Orizaba.
“It could be the biggest iteration — the most global iteration — of this legacy Chad left behind,” he said.
Ultimate FKT Gear List
So, what do you pack when you’re preparing to run 43 miles at extremely high elevations, in just 24 hours? Well, not a lot. You bring running gear, mountaineering gear, layers, and nutrition. You bring what you need and leave the rest behind.
When talking with Hardrath about the gear he was bringing for this latest FKT, his list was impressively short. But it was also very premeditated. Hardrath clearly put a lot of thought into the gear he brought with him.
Here’s his list, with some sporadic commentary.
Layers, Bags, Sleepwear, Shoes: The Essentials
- Ultraspire Epic XT 30 mountain running pack: “It’s like a running pack mixed with a mountain pack. So you can put the ice axes on it and still have like your front storage so that you can efficiently access your food and all that.”
- Norda Run “Ray Zahab” Trail Shoes: “I’ve used these shoes on some other aspects more recently and I’ve never, never shredded an upper a single time, which is just, in my world, with all the off-trail crap I do, is just outrageous.”
- Tifosi sunglasses – Sledge Lite: “I’ll use these for both the running and higher on the mountain. I’ve had a lot of luck with them.”
- BRS aluminum crampons: “I fell in love with these super cheap BRS aluminum crampons that you can buy from Amazon. They’ve been the best crampons for use with trail runners that I’ve ever used. Inexpensive, and they get the job done.”
- Swiftwick FLITE XT TRAIL socks
- Path Projects Pyrenees mid-weight sun hoodie
- Path Projects base liner layers
- Path Projects Killam Pant
- Leki insulated gloves with trigger shark system
- Leki ultralight trekking poles
- Patagonia heavyweight puffy
- Feathered Friends sleeping quilt
- Therm-a-Rest ultralight inflatable pad
- Petzl “RIDE” ultralight ice axes
Technology, Wearables, and Lighting
- CalTopo mapping, app, and live tracking
- UltrAspire 800-lumen waist light
- Petzl NAO RL 1,500-lumen headlamp
- Garmin inReach Mini 2
- Coros Vertix 2
- Higher Peak Mag-30 altitude generators/tents
- Ketone-IQ – exogenous ketones: “There’s not going to be much of a finishing kick at 14,000 feet. So that ketone fuel source will kind of be like a side with our normal carbohydrates.”
- Peak Refuel Dehydrated Meals
- Precision Nutrition Gels and Chews
- Muir Energy Gels
- Gnarly Nutrition Fuel20 Mix
- Kapik 1 Expedition Coffee by adventurer Ray Zahab supporting i2P youth expeditions
Starting His Latest Infinity Loop Volcano FKT
Hardrath said he was excited to get down to Mexico and start his acclimatization process prior to the FKT attempt. Which, he said, was going to be the hardest part from the start. He went down to Mexico previously to do a trial run of the infinity loop — just to try it out. But he ended up getting High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) not long into the attempt. He learned that he has a rare condition that makes his body extremely susceptible to HAPE.
So this time, he wasn’t about to mess around. He was using a Higher Peak mountain air generator to acclimate at home in Oregon. And when he got to Mexico, he spent 4 days acclimating before he and his partners, Nathan Longhurst and Travis Soares, started running.
And it seemed to work. Hardrath beat his goal of completing the route in less than 24 hours, coming across the infinity look FKT finish line in just 23 hours and 40 minutes.
And now that it’s all over, Hardrath’s fans, family, friends, and students will all soon be able to watch the attempt. He and his partners brought a camera crew with them to Mexico. And they hope to have an edit ready to watch, documenting their wild FKT of the tallest volcano on this continent … soon. Check out Hardrath’s website to stay up to date on the video and all his future FKT endeavors.