The elusive FKT; maybe it’s not as elusive as you might think though.
Let’s start with what it is.
Fastest Known Time. That’s what it literally stands for, and the best bit; anyone can do one, you don’t need to be Eliud Kipchoge or Kilian Jornet. Plus, there are hundreds of routes dotted all over the world, if you head over to the website: www.fastestknowntime.com you can scroll through the “Routes” tab to find one close to you, and maybe even try breaking it! A popular route in London is the Capital Ring – a 75 mile loop around London, and the current record is 10hrs 14mins 57secs. (Supported)
What I love about an FKT is they are more of an adventure compared to a race where everything is all sorted out for you. From planning and preparing your route to choosing whether to go supported or unsupported, they’re a great alternative to still helping you train for a specific event plus, a bit of kudos if (I should say WHEN) you achieve one!
You can choose how you will complete an FKT from the different styles included in their categories, these are as follows according to their website:
There are three types of support. Each route may have separate categories for these three Styles, and FKT submissions must state which style was employed. While these three styles are different from each other, none is “better” than the others; do what works best for the route and you. (Please do not feel the need to be "Unsupported"; often "Self-Supported" is the most appropriate style). A key distinction is that being paced or accompanied is considered a Supported trip, unless it is a team that stays together to the finish.
Unsupported means you truly have no external support of any kind. This means you carry everything you need from start to finish except water from natural sources (public taps along the trail are fine, but no water from any commercial source even if free). This naturally limits the length of an Unsupported trip. Spectating in person by friends, family, or photographers is supportive, and thus not in the spirit of this style, and will be classified as Supported starting February 4, 2021 (all FKT classifications previous to this date will remain unchanged). Phone and digital communication is not considered support, and spectators and support people at the start and finish is also allowed. Using public bathrooms to defecate is fine, as the less feces in the backcountry the better.
Self-Supported means you may have as much support as you can manage or find along the way, but not from any thing or person just for you; any support you employ must be equally available to anyone else. This can range from caching supplies in advance, purchasing supplies along the way, staying at motels, to finding or begging for food or water; camping in a friends yard would be Supported, because that is not available to the public. Most long thru-hiking routes are done Self-Supported.
Supported trips can have as much support means you can enlist, as long as you are entirely self-powered. This can range from one person handing you water once, to an entire team that accompanies you the whole distance giving you everything (except physical assistance). Whether it’s just once or continuously, any support at all means it’s a Supported trip. On longer routes, Supported can enable the fastest trips due to the ability to carry less weight. To get a Supported FKT you also have to beat the fastest Self-Supported and Unsupported times.”
For verification of your FKT, you must provide, if possible:
· The original data file, usually in TCX, FIT, GPX, or KML format — copied directly from your device - GPX preferred.
· A link to your activity on Garmin Connect, Movescount, Strava, etc.
· A link to a trip report, if any.
· Photos, submitting the original file; image files directly from the device contain valuable metadata that is stripped-out by social media sites.
FKT’s are a great way to experience the trails and back routes in an entirely different way than on an official race. With a solid plan and the right training, you will be ready to go after it. There will inevitably be highs and lows along the journey but, that’s what makes them all the more memorable and challenging.
If you have attempted any FKT’s, set any FKT’s or are planning any, we can’t wait to hear more about it!