At 4 a.m. on October 31, Colorado runner Kaitlyn Yonke set out for a 100-mile run in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, just a short drive from Moab. A little more than 20 hours later (20 hours, 19 minutes, to be exact), Yonke crossed the finish line of the 160K route, titled White Rim Road, setting the fastest known time (FKT) for the run. With her time, she broke the previous route record — which had stood since Jennilyn Eaton set it back in 2013 — by about 90 minutes.
The Canyonlands run
The White Rim Road route follows a “beautiful, 100-mile jeep road,” according to the official FKT website, and it features close to 2,200m of climbing. With the route on a road (11K of which is actually paved), runners don’t have to worry about navigating difficult trails or tricky terrain, but that hardly makes the run easy. The long and hilly run has broken many runners, and there is a challenge called the WRIAD (White Rim in a day) that sees athletes (mountain bikers and runners alike) attempt to cover the 100 miles in 24 hours or less.
In Yonke’s post-run writeup on the FKT website, she touched on her team setup for the record attempt. Her run was supported, meaning she had a crew to help her out along the way by providing food, water and anything else she might need. (There is also an unsupported route record, owned by Kevin Hadfield in 21 hours, 25 minutes.) “I had [four] crew/pacers who all swapped out miles to help keep me motivated, fuelled and moving well,” Yonke wrote. “I felt amazing all day with no stomach or heat issues, the legs just turned over as I remembered my ‘why’ for being out there.” Just after midnight on November 1, Yonke and her crew crossed the finish line to officially grab the route FKT.
Yonke also noted that she ran the route to raise money and awareness for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. “I believe it was such a driving factor to getting me around that loop and fighting for the day I had,” she wrote. “Without that motivation and running for a cause near and dear to me this day [wouldn’t] have been executed the way it was.”
A packed 2020
Yonke has had a pretty busy year so far. She has only gotten one race in (a 100K in February), but with her run in Utah, she is up to four FKTs for 2020. In total, she has seven FKTs on her resume, but the Canyonlands National Park run was by far her longest (the next closest was a 37K run in Colorado that she ran in September).