American ultrarunner Tyler Andrews has set off on a 10-run challenge in South America that he has dubbed the Los 10 FKT Project. The Los 10 will see Andrews attempt 10 FKTs (fastest known times) throughout the Andes Mountains. He already has two runs complete and one FKT under his belt, which he ran on Chile‘s Ojos del Salado, the tallest volcano on Earth. The routes will require Andrews to run and climb, and he plans on completing all 10 in at most one year.
Los 10 FKT Project
Andrews is a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials runner (he finished in 2:22:51 at last year’s race in Atlanta) and treadmill world record holder (he set the marathon and 50K records last summer, running 2:17:56 and 2:42:51). He is no stranger to big challenges and exciting runs, so it only makes sense that he would shoot for something as impressive as the Los 10 FKT Project.
“I need goals that scare me,” he wrote on Instagram. “Sometimes, these big, intimidating goals turn out to be complete disasters, be it an overly aggressive race-plan or a literally life-or-death situation in the mountains … [and] while these situations might be terrifying at the moment, it’s where I find the most personal satisfaction and whence I experience true growth, no matter the outcome.”
As he explained himself in a writeup outlining his challenge, Andrews came up with the idea for the Los 10 FKT Project after joining the staff at fastestknowntime.com, which is the official site of FKTs and route records. He works as a regional editor on the site for Central and South America, and he wrote that he was “surprised to see how few Andean routes … were in the database despite the number of badass, local mountain/ultra/trail athletes” he knows who train and race in “Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and more.”
With the help of friends and other athletes across South America, Andrews compiled a list of 10 routes in the Andes that he could tackle in one year. As he noted, some of these routes already have established FKTs attached to them, while others are popular trails that have yet to be given official speed and route records.
Andrews added that he won’t be running and climbing each of these routes alone, and he will instead be “accompanied by some of the true local legends in each area.”
Ojos del Salado
First off was Ojos del Salado, which is on the border of Chile and Argentina. It towers at a staggering height of 6,893m, although Andrews’s route only covered a portion of that, and he gained a still-impressive total of just under 2,500m of elevation over the course of the route.
Attacking the volcano from the Chilean side, Andrews completed the 53K route in 9:29:46 on February 22. Andrews’s run was supported, meaning he had a crew with him to help him out with water and nutrition. There are no other supported attempts on the FKT listings for this route, but there was a self-supported run, and the record stands at over 21 hours, 12 hours slower than Andrews’s result.
Next up was the Tungurahua Volcano in Ecuador, which Andrews ran on Friday. This route is 25K with around 3,000m of elevation gain from start to finish. Andrews gave it a great shot, but he fell short of the record, completing the route in 5:06:13. The time to beat was 4:18:34, which belongs to an athlete named Marcelo Olivo Merino.
Andrews may have missed this FKT, but his attempt came just a couple of weeks after a huge effort in Chile. He has eight more FKTs to chase, all of which will be run on impressive, long and daunting routes. To see his full list of FKTs for the Los 10 FKT Project, click here.