Speed Records on Trails: Good idea or bad?

Appalachian Trail sunrise in Maine's mountains

Appalachian Trail, Georgia's Springer Mountain

A.T. in fourteen states

Hiking the A.T.

Mt. Katahdin-Maine

Not that long ago, Associated Press ran an article about a woman who’d just completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes! Then last year, a runner shaved several hours off that time. Now we learn that a new record has been set. An ultra runner has just completed the A.T. in 45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes.

While I’m in awe of these accomplishments, I’m wondering why they do this. What is the logic or meaning behind it? The article states at the site above that she never ignored the beauty of the 2,180-mile trek from Maine to Georgia. But did she stop to smell the wildflowers, rest by waterfalls, take the time to absorb the landscapes of nature, take the time to observe animals in their habitats? Bombing along at an average of 47 miles a day, I doubt it.

“Fastest is so relative,” the young lady states, “…what are you not going to see at three miles per hour?” That’s like saying, I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace yesterday, every word, so what could I have missed?

Maybe I don’t get it. Many others have tried for speed records thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. And I remember reading about one man who thru-hiked the triple crown (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail), about 7800 miles, in one year! Think of all that he glimpsed but didn’t experience. How much did he really see and absorb in the Rockies, Yosemite, the Sierras?

For all you speed demons, slow down. And take the time to smell the flowers.

Miscellaneous: In my post about cleaning sleeping bags, Carol Chubb of Massachusetts suggests throwing several tennis balls into the dryer with the sleeping bag. This will help break up any down clumps. Thanks, Carol.

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