Karl Meltzer Sets Record Running the Appalachian Trail

Karl Meltzer and Crew Chief Eric Belz ~ Photo by Carl Rosen / Red Bull Content Pool

Karl Meltzer and Crew Chief Eric Belz ~ Photo by Carl Rosen / Red Bull Content Pool

Congratulations to ultramarathoner Karl Meltzer (aka "Speedgoat") for breaking the fastest known time (FKT) for an assisted thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Having the previous record holder, Scott Jurek, help Speedgoat in the final miles to Springer Mountain on Sunday, September 18, 2016, was especially classy.

Speedgoat routinely met his crew every 10-15 miles for food, supplies, medical care and encouragement.

Honchos at Red Bull, the most prominent sponsor of the event, must be insanely frustrated that virtually every story about Karl Meltzer's 45-day, 22-hour and 38-minute trek mentions how he was fueled by beer, not Red Bull. Thanks for helping foot the reported $100,000+ bill, Red Bull. When things calm down, maybe Speedgoat will buy you a beer.

Yes, Karl arose around 4 AM every day. He left camp around 4:30 AM and ran or walked (mostly walked, if my research is correct) until dark, eating along the way. His team carried much of the weight to sustain Karl, ridding the runner of the normal items of: sleeping system, tent, extra clothes. Our hero wore his pack around his waist and carried bacon, pieces of steak, chicken and toilet paper. That's a sharp contrast to Jurek's uber-vegan menu last year. Meltzer's evening meals were prepared for him by his faithful companions, led by Eric Belz. After dinner and "a beer or two," Karl slept in the team van, with the help of Advil PM. (Sorry, Red Bull.)

This was Karl's third shot at setting a new FKT for the Appalachian Trail. He missed the mark in 2008 by a week, and dropped out of the running after 1,500 miles in 2014. This time, Scott Jurek helped tweak Karl's training and helped Karl beat Scott's time by roughly 9-hours and 29-minutes.

Yes, Karl Meltzer drank Red Bull (you're welcome) and Tang (sorry, Red Bull) to stay hydrated while running the better part of 50-miles per day. Not bad for a guy who is 48 years old; or, half that. Depending on your source, Karl went through either 18 or 20 pairs of shoes along the way. He was wise to get seven hours of sleep per night -- an accomplishment most mothers of infants cannot even comprehend -- and to not let pesky blisters pop his parade.

People get all freaked out about how AT runners "don't enjoy the Trail" or how "it's all about them, not the Trail" or whatever. It's a public trail. You get to walk slowly or run. It's nobody else's business, from my perspective. Hike you own dang hike.

Quote about "Why?" from the Weather Channel's Story

"It's not fame, and it's certainly not money," Metzer [sic] said. "Not even competition. For all my career, I've liked to raise the bar for myself. When I brought this idea up in 2008, I just wanted to do something different. I could run 100s all the time. Boring. This is something, the ultimate challenge. 2,220 miles is daunting, and it's expensive!"

You and I might not choose to spend "six figures" running for more than 46-days, unless we were being chased by slower zombies, but if Red Bull (you're welcome) wants to help, that's great.

If you missed the play-by-play about the latest record, stay tuned. The movie should be out sometime in 2017. Expect a book too. Along with a speaking tour. Sure beats a desk job.

Until the next man or woman zips the 14-state path in less time, we hail the conquering hero, Karl Meltzer, his crew chief, Eric Belz, and Karl's wife, Cheryl, for their endurance record.

Will you be next? If so, you might want to hit up your favorite brewery for a sponsorship. Red Bull is probably tapped out.


Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Hikers, Information, appalachian trail hikers, scott jurek appalachian trail, karl meltzer appalachian trail, fastest hike of the appalachian trail, and fastest known time appalachian trail

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
Related Articles

The best trail mix is healthy, tasty and beneficial. So is this Appalachian Trail advice that will inspire you and empower you to thrive the Trail.

Karl Metzler's third attempt to set the fastest known time (FKT) for hiking/running the Appalachian Trail begins in early August, 2016.

Scott Jurek's Appalachian Trail run to Katahdin will end today, Day 46, July 12, 2015. Fueled by a plant-based diet and the loving care of his wife, Jenny.

Long-distance runner & super-hero Scott Jurek seeks his "masterpiece" accomplishment: breaking the speed-hike record of the Appalachian Trail.

Scott Jurek ran, walked, crawled & dragged his butt from Georgia to Maine faster than all assisted Appalachian Trail hikers. But, did he shatter the record?

Scott Jurek has two days to break Jennifer Pharr Davis's 46-day record for running the entire Appalachian Trail. Scott is 135 miles away. Will he make it?

Many long-distance hikers deal with PHD: Post-Hiking Depression at the end of their Trails. These tips will help with life after you pass the finish line.

Heather "Anish" Anderson set the fastest known time for hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, without support from others, 54 days, 7 hours and 48 minutes.