Karl Meltzer Attempts to Topple Appalachian Trail Speed Record

This summer, La Sportiva Mountain Running® Team Member, Karl Meltzer is planning on breaking the current speed record on the AT, which stands at 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes
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Boulder, Colo. – The Appalachian Trail (the AT) stretches from Springer Mountain, Ga. to Katahdin, Maine over some of the tallest mountains and deepest gorges east of the Mississippi. It is the nation's longest marked footpath, at approximately 2,175 miles. This summer, La Sportiva Mountain Running® Team Member, Karl Meltzer is planning on breaking the current speed record on the AT, which stands at 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.

Many record attempts have been made on what is the longest and surely the most famous trail in North America. Andrew Thompson set the current record in 2005 during his third attempt after two earlier near-successes. In order to beat this record, Meltzer will need to average more than 45.7 miles per day, every day for a month and a half.

“The AT is the first, the original, and possibly the best, long trail. It has an incredible history that greatly ennobles Karl's attempt,” said Buzz Burrell, La Sportiva Mountain Running® team captain. “Establishing a new record will be very hard. After an illustrious career as one of the best ultrarunners in the country, Karl Meltzer is the man to take it down a notch.”

The AT was completed in 1937, but it took over a decade before anyone hiked the trail in its entirety. The first recorded "thru-hike" (done continuously from start to finish) of the AT was in 1948. By 1969 only 61 people had ever accomplished this feat. Today, thousands of people start through-hiking the AT each year, but on average only about 25-percent complete the entire trail, or roughly 500 people per year.

The modern era of AT speed record attempts began much more recently. In 1991, David Horton, who was one of the premier ultrarunners in the country at the time, established a time of 52 days, nine hours, and 42 minutes. This record stood until 1999 when Pete Palmer overtook it with a time of 48 days, 20 hours and 11 minutes. Palmer held the record until Thompson successfully surpassed it in 2005.

Meltzer is positioned ideally to move to the forefront of AT Mountain Runners. He was named the USA Track & Field Ultrarunner of the Year for 2006. Karl is known for his record-setting four wins at the Hardrock 100 trail race in Silverton, Colo. and he also holds the current record for the most 100-mile-race wins, with 22 during his career.

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