After denying almost a decade of assaults by hikers from around the world, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has a new self-supported speed king.
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-harm, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255.
Josh Perry checked into the PCT’s northern terminus in Washington on Aug. 7 and stopped his watch. When he looked at it, he saw a number no self-supported hiker had ever seen — at the end of their journey.
The British hiker finished the 2,600-mile trail in 55 days, 16 hours, 54 minutes. Doing so, he cleaved just over 5 days off Heather “Anish” Anderson’s landmark 2013 record of 60 days, 17 hours. That record withstood years of traffic from countless hopefuls and put Anderson on the map as an endurance athlete.
Perry’s experience took a clear toll on him, mentally and physically. On Instagram, he acknowledged that he became negative as he pushed onward, and that injuries harried him. But, he said, commitment to the task at hand helped him keep grinding out the miles.
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PCT Speed Record: Not a Walk in the Park
For Perry, persevering mentally could be a more transcending victory than the record itself. While he alternately paced and forced himself northward along the Pacific coast, he constantly pushed against another enemy: himself.
“Last year I made, what was at the time, a very easy, straightforward decision. I was going to take my life,” he wrote on July 22. “I was, obviously, unsuccessful in that. But ever since I’ve been crippled when confronted with difficult decisions.”
He went on to reference the pitfalls and triviality of FKT pursuit, at one point deeming a technicality a matter of “hypocrisy.” However, as he pointed out, he had a decision to make.
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“This isn’t fun anymore, but my options are to either quit, sell out, or self sabotage. None of which will I be happy with.”
So he kept going. Even though he started falling behind schedule late in the game.
“My original goal times are all passing me by these days, and I still have a long way to go. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by feelings of failure,” he said on Aug. 5, just 2 days before he would earn the FKT. “That’s just how these things go sometimes though, and I’m sure those feelings will change with time.”
We hope they will for Josh, and we’re confident the tide’s turning already.
“[I] have much to be proud of,” he wrote in his last post from the trail. “I dealt with my injuries and hardships better than I have on previous FKT’s, I rode the line for a long stretch without going over the edge.
“[A]t the end of the day, the experience I had was an incredible one and the struggles are an expected part of that.”