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Why distance doesn’t matter when it comes to FKTs

Regardless of its length, your favourite running route could deserve its own official FKT

With countless event cancellations this year, fastest known times (FKTs) have blown up and replaced races for so many runners around the world. As the founders of fastestknowntime.com (the official website of FKTs) told FiveThiryEight in the summer, they have seen a massive increase in FKT submissions in 2020 compared to 2019, and that hasn’t slowed down in recent months. It’s easy to look at some of these routes, many of which take days to complete, and think, “I could never do that.” The thing is, FKTs aren’t just for ultrarunners or elite athletes. Anyone can submit a run to be considered by the crew at fastestknowntime.com, and the routes can be as short or as long as you want. So really, there’s nothing stopping you from owning an FKT.
 
A team of women set an FKT in the Grand Canyon earlier this year. Photo: Instagram/sstroeer

The short

A quick scan of the FKT website will show you that these routes are not all ultra-distance runs. Yes, there are some ridiculously long runs, but there are also routes that you don’t have to dedicate days (or, in some cases, weeks) to in order to complete them. You can even run a few kilometres and, if the route is noteworthy enough, you can get it certified as an official FKT. 

RELATED: Cancelled races have led to skyrocket in FKT attempts

For example, look at the Mt. Sanitas route in Boulder, Colo. This is a 1.4-mile (2.25K) run, although it gains almost 400m in that short period of time. This is by no means an easy route to run, and you’ll be gassed by the end of the intense climb, but it’s just a little over 2K. You probably won’t beat the current FKT (it belongs to Kilian Jornet, who completed the run in just over 14 minutes), but if you’re in Boulder and feel like punishing yourself, give it a shot. 

Damian Hall set the Pennine Way FKT in July. Photo: Inov-8

The long

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the long FKTs. And when we say long, we mean long. A great example of this is the Appalachian Trail. This 3,500K trail stretches from Maine all the way down to Georgia, and the current route records belong to Belgian Karel Sabbe, who ran farther than anyone else at the 2019 Barkley Marathons (although he still finished with a DNF), and American Liz Anjos. Sabbe set his FKT in 2018, completing the route in just over 41 days, and Anjos ran hers earlier this year, finishing in 51 days. 

RELATED: The battle for the 111K Gatineau Park FKT

Try your own

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As you can see, you can go super short or extremely long for FKTs. The key to getting your route certified, as listed on the FKT website, is to make sure it is “distinct enough so that others will be interested in repeating it.” It is also noted that, while routes can be any length, “anything less than five miles long or with less than 500 feet of climbing would have to be special.” If you think you’ve got a route that could attract other runners, send it in to the team at fastestknowntime.com. If they like it, run it yourself as the first official record attempt on the route. Once you’re finished, you’ll own an FKT. It might not stay under your name forever (especially if someone like Jornet decides to run it), but you’ll always be the original record holder.