With new two-way satellite messaging devices like the SPOT X, sharing your fastest known time with the world is simpler than ever. Are you ready?
Endurance athlete Annie Weiss likes to get around — fast. Last May, Weiss made a valiant FKT attempt on the Ice Age Trail, but she fell short.
But she’s coming back for more. Weiss is in the middle of her second attempt to break the record on the Ice Age, a nearly 1,200-mile journey through Wisconsin across road and trail. You can follow along right here.
FKTs: Navigation Tracking Required
There’s no doubt a next-generation SPOT X navigation tracker will be one of Weiss’ trustiest companions along the way. For her, the safety device has changed the way she approaches these adventures. Now it’s a requirement.
The days of simply saying you completed an FKT in a certain amount of time are gone. And so are the cumbersome sets of devices first used to back up that data. For example, just two years ago, when famed runner Karl Meltzer set the Appalachian Trail FKT, he used two watches and a GPS tracker to ensure he received accurate data.
“In the past, it was extremely frustrating to rely on wireless data, walkie-talkies, and watches. They either don’t work because you’re so remote or are not entirely accurate when you need all data to prove that the FKT was completely ethical,” Weiss said.
Future of FKT Timing With SPOT
With FKT attempts becoming more common, the public views the accuracy of FKT stats with increasing scrutiny. One reason is that many run solo. “Everything needs to be verified and double-checked now, and SPOT is incredible for this purpose,” Weiss said. “I not only use it for safety but also to ensure my data is accurate.”
While she appreciates the precision SPOT provides for the FKT, she says having the world now following along adds to the challenge’s intensity.
“It was stressful at times knowing everyone knew exactly where I was and following my every step. It’s always hard when even the technology can show you are struggling!”
Tips for FKT Preparation
Struggles aside, Weiss has come to depend on SPOT to both validate FKT attempts and for the training leading up to race day. For others considering their first FKT attempt, Weiss shared some sage advice.
Keep moving. It’s not about the number of miles you put in ahead of time. It’s about the time you spend on your feet running, walking, hiking, or even standing.
Respect recovery time. When you train hard daily, make sure you rest even harder. Proper recovery is essential.
Practice your course. Get on the roads and trails you plan to run your FKT on. It doesn’t help to practice on a completely different surface than the one you plan to run.
Do the shuffle. Learn how to “trail shuffle” and be perfectly OK going very, very slow sometimes. Hiking much of the FKT distance is fine — don’t let ego take over.
Life is training. Don’t plan to have much of a life outside of training. You could spend upwards of eight hours per day on the move to train properly. My lowest was three hours.
Safety first. No matter how much weight it might add, carry safety gear. This may mean bear spray, jackets, poles, and tracking devices like the SPOT X.
Make a strategy spreadsheet. Determine your miles and sections per day while keeping in mind they will likely change. A master plan allows your crew to plan for their time with you on the trail or road.
Check your tech. Check your navigation tracking device ahead of time. Ensure people know your SPOT works and how to locate you. People love following a long-distance FKT.
Invest in proper gear. Research FKTers’ top picks, like new socks, rain gear, and lots of anti-chafe product. What you really use on the trail might surprise you.
Eating and sleeping rule. Plan ahead for the right nutrition and those all-important sleeping arrangements. You need rest to break records.
Market your FKT. This part is, of course, optional. If it piques your interest, contact local and national sponsors with your story. Create an icon or logo for those following along; it can go on social, stickers, even T-shirts. Keep a social media presence and blog during the whole adventure.
This article is sponsored by SPOT. Learn more about the new two-way SPOT X, which combines the best of wayfinding technology and the mobile phone.