FKT, or Fastest Known Time, in running refers to the speed record for a running, hiking, or cycling route. Unlike most endurance sports competitions such as marathon world records, FKTs are self-organized and done alone or in small groups. They are popular on long trails suitable for thru-hiking or ultramarathon trail running, such as the Pennine Way and the John Muir Trail. FKTs are most often compared to Strava segments, but unlike Strava segments, you can't get a fastest known time on your neighborhood loop. They must be on established routes of at least 5 miles long or have at least 500 feet of elevation gain, and can be on any surface, including roads, trails, or off-trail.
FKTs are different from traditional races, as they are not governed by a specific organization, and there is no governing body for certifying FKTs. The modern FKT movement has been cataloged on a tracking website, fastestknowntime.com, founded by outdoor enthusiasts Pete Bakwin and Buzz Burrell, who coined the term FKT in the year 2000. Participants must be self-propelled, except for sections specifically designated in the route, and routes with a website, an existing name, history, particular beauty, or that follow a topographic feature and have existing popularity will usually be accepted
HERE’S WHAT RUNNERS SHOULD UNDERSTAND ABOUT FKTS
- Popular Routes: FKTs are often associated with well-known trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, the Long Trail, or the Appalachian Trail. These trails have defined start and end points recognized by the running community.
- Establishing an FKT: To set an FKT, a runner must accurately document their time. This is usually done using GPS tracking or time recording with credible witnesses. A third-party organization, such as the Fastest Known Time website, often verifies these records.
- Who Attempts FKTs: While any runner can attempt to set an FKT, they are generally pursued by elite athletes experienced in long-distance running. The challenges can involve running for several days, often through tough terrain and under challenging conditions.
- Growing Popularity: The interest in FKTs has surged recently. Social media and platforms like Strava have played a significant role in popularizing FKT attempts, allowing runners to share their achievements with a broader audience.
In summary, FKTs represent a challenge in the running world where individuals try to set record times on specific routes. These attempts require proper documentation for verification and are mostly undertaken by experienced long-distance runners. The trend has gained popularity, offering a unique way for runners to test their limits and share their accomplishments.
There are thousands of FKT routes available for runners, hikers, and cyclists, and new routes are being added all the time. Here are some examples of FKT routes:
- Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail is a 2,200-mile trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. The FKT for the trail is held by Karel Sabbe, who completed the trail in 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes.
- John Muir Trail: The John Muir Trail is a 211-mile trail that runs through the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. The FKT for the trail is held by Francois D'Haene, who completed the trail in 2 days, 19 hours, and 26 minutes.
- Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim: The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim is a 48-mile route that involves running from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other and back again. The FKT for the route is held by Jim Walmsley, who completed the route in 5 hours, 55 minutes, and 20 seconds.
- Pacific Crest Trail: The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650-mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. The FKT for the trail is held by Karel Sabbe, who completed the trail in 52 days, 8 hours, and 25 minutes.
- Mount Whitney: Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, standing at 14,505 feet. The FKT for the Mount Whitney Trail is held by Joey Schrichte, who completed the trail in 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds.
These are just a few examples of the many FKT routes available for runners. It's important to note that FKTs are self-organized and not governed by a specific organization, and there is no governing body for certifying FKTs.