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August 1, 2011

Woman breaks Appalachian Trail speed record

She did it.

North Carolina's Jennifer Pharr Davis has set the record for the fastest thru-hike of the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, male or female.

Her north-to-south hike, which began atop Maine's Mount Katahdin on June 15, ended Sunday afternoon, when Davis reached the summit of Springer Mountain in Georgia.

It took her 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. The previous record, set by Andrew Thompson in 2005, was 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.

Davis already held the women's record, which she set in 2008 on her second thru-hike of the AT: 57 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes.  Her first end-to-end adventure, was the subject of her 2010 memoir, "Becoming Odyssa.

Although short in time, her hike was filled with battles with bugs, blast-furnace heat and painful injuries that threatened to derail the attempt. She started around 5 a.m. each day and finished many days after dark and averaged 3 mph.

Photos and a blog about her record-setting hike are at her website

Posted by Candus Thomson at 7:24 AM | | Comments (8)


wow, look at this! i just saw this on this mornings news on HLN. bev

As an AT thru-hiker, I really resent Ms Davis's run being called a thru-hike. Aside from being on the AT, there is little in her accomplishment that has any comparison to a legitmate thru-hike. What she has accomplished is noteworthy and quite astounding. However, her record-breaking feat should be deemed a long-distance run, not a hike, and should be posted in the annals of running, not AT hiking..

Congrats to Jenny. A thru-hike is a continueous hike along the entire AT. That is what Jenny did. The previous poster seems to be upset that her hike was supported. The unsupported hike record is a different record held by someone else. I believe that took about 65-70 days. Both are remarkable feats. Jenny did very little running, she put in 14 hour+ days.

"Resent" is such a harsh word to use in conjunction with the AT. I like to think of it as a place and the people who use it as entities that defy definition. No rules, no judgments. Just personal triumphs and satisfaction.
I prefer to use resent with hedge fund managers, Gulf polluters and lying politicians.
You have your accomplishment to treasure. Why judge others?
If Davis wants to average 3 mph for 47 days, more power to her.

Jennifer Pharr-Davis broke the previous speed record by more than a day; one held by Andrew Thompson. Andrew is one of the few people to ever complete the brutal Barkley Marathons race, by the way. He's one tough dude.

I've seen some resentful thru-hikers posting on this and other sites about her status as a thru-hiker. Her goal was not to thru-hike the trail; it was to cover the entire trail in the least amount of time. Her dedication and ability to accomplish that goal is amazing.

The bottom line is this: She could no doubt easily thru-hike the AT in unsupported fashion, doing about 15-20 miles a day. Easily. Probably quite a bit more.

That being said, there ain't any thru-hikers in history who could cover 45-50 miles a day supported. None. I don't care if they're sleeping in a tent or sleeping at the HIlton. None.

That is, of course, unless you allow Jennifer Pharr-Davis to be called a thru-hiker. Then there is one.

There's no way to nitpick this accomplishment w/out looking like a gurmpy, humorless SOB.

If that's how you wanna go through life, fine, but don't be surprised when nobody wants to sit next to your campfire.

Odyssa is a walker, not a runner.
She backpacked the entire trail (AT) in 2005, as well as the PCT in 2006 and the Long Trail in 2007 (record-setting). She doesn't have to prove her backpacking accomplishments to anybody. She is the first walker to hold the AT endurance record since 1973. She is a true Olympian. The unsupported record for the AT is 60.5 days set by Ward Leonard several years ago.

Whatever happened to hike your own hike? I want to thru-hike one day, but I hope I don't become a jerk about it. A thru hike is defined as hiking the whole thing from end to end in less than a year. She did that. From what I understand she didn't really run (3 mph is not running). It was a supported thru-hike plain and simple. What a great accomplishment! You can call it what ever you want to, but at least she didn't bother people like most stinky, yogi-ing, entitled thru-hikers who think they own the trail. Fine, don't call it a thru hike. Call it whatever is better than a thru hike.

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About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.

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