In 2017, American ultrarunner and running journalist Meghan Hicks ran the fastest known time (FKT) on a route through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado called the Nolan’s 14. Her record of two days, 11 hours and 36 minutes was recently beaten by fellow American Sabrina Stanley, who finished the route eight hours quicker. Stanley didn’t get to enjoy her FKT for long, because Hicks was back on the Nolan’s 14 less than a month later, and she reclaimed the record after finishing the run in two days, two hours and 32 minutes.
Meghan Hicks sets a new women's supported FKT on the Nolan's 14 line in 50:32. (Previous: Sabrina Stanley, 2020, 51:15)
Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell pic.twitter.com/ulichtoE7p
— iRunFar (@iRunFar) September 5, 2020
The Nolan’s 14 is a gruelling challenge, and it reportedly has a success rate of just 15 per cent. It’s not just a matter of completing the route, but finishing before the strict 60-hour cutoff. The route sees athletes run 14 summits of 14,000 feet (4,267m) or higher in the Sawatch Range in the Rockies, and it’s usually about 100 miles in length. The distance can vary (with some routes as short as 88 miles and others as long as 106) because individuals get to choose their own routes between each peak. As long as an athlete summits all 14 mountains in under 60 hours, they are credited with completing the route.
Runners can complete supported runs (meaning they have a team with them to supply them with food, water and anything else they might need) or unsupported runs (the athlete carries all of their own supplies). As was the case when she set her first Nolan’s 14 FKT, Hicks’s run was supported.
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Hi, world. It feels difficult to come back out into the real world after an experience like the Marathon des Sables, where you put head to sand in the Sahara Desert each night and run all day and where your only worries are what's in your horizon view. There is something so special about this sort of simplicity. // My racing week didn't turn out as I might have hoped. My calf injury of earlier this year never turned up, though, hooray! I felt strong for the first two days, but then got some sort of sickness or problem on the third day, where I felt the chills and feverish. The big issue was that I felt so hot while I was running. After the third day of running, it took ages for my core body temperature to cool down, and the rest was kind of history. I could move and get across the Sahara to the finish line, but I had to go slow and keep drenching my body in water to stay cool. // In the end, speed doesn't matter too much because the week was magical in every other way. Here's a photo of tent 109 on the final morning's short charity walk. We're in a 15,000-calorie deficit, wearing a week's worth of sweat and sand, 140 miles into our week, and still having a blast. Thank you to everyone who supported me in this adventure, whether in person or from afar. With your love my week was a dream. // Photo: Sarah Grey
Hicks’s running resume
Hicks has one other FKT on a short route in Nevada on Wheeler Peak. This is a 6.4K run with close to a kilometre of elevation gain, and Hicks covered the distance in one hour, 27 minutes and 28 seconds. She is also an accomplished ultrarunner in sanctioned events. She was the top female at the 2013 Marathon des Sables in Morocco, which takes racers 250K through the Sahara Desert, and she has four other top-10 finishes at the race. She also has multiple top-10 finishes at the Hardrock 100 ultramarathon in Colorado, and she has run to many race wins and podium finishes throughout her athletic career.