Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AZT Unsupported Speed Record Attempt 2011

Krud in Sonora (back when I was EL MONSTRO)
Back in the spring of 2007 I set off on my first unsupported speed record attempt.  I was walking the -800 mile Arizona Trail and hoped to best a time of 35 days.  I was naive in many ways back then about speed records.  I think my biggest shortcoming was thinking out loud that I would like to do the trail this fast, and finish it in this many days, and then I would make up a itinerary in a spreadsheet.  Then I falsely assumed that once written on paper I would then go deliver on it.  My buddy Bink has a saying, there is talking about it and then there is doing it.  Since hearing that I have decided to lay low on what it is I would like to do and focus my time and effort on training, researching and applying my best made plans to delivering on said record attempt.  No matter though, as I did set a new speed record on the AZT which stood for 2 years before being bested by a friend Worldwide.  He managed to take about 1 day and 9 hrs off my time.

I had several problems on the AZT in 2007.  I didn't have any real data book other than one I scrapped together from second hand information.  The guidebook for the AZT that I purchased was basically worthless (no offense intended, but just giving my humble opinion), the maps weren't something to to try to navigate with and more than half of the chapters at the time had no ground info, just a reference to contact the AZTA about current conditions.  I ended up mostly using info from a website that a past hiker provided on all the cross country sections.  Fortunately this ended up being the most accurate info I had on trail.  I was also quite naive as to the weather and window of  time to traverse the trail in a high speed fashion.  I thought going early would save me exposure to heat, which it might, but it also put me in several snow storms.  Honestly looking back on it, I spent more nights freezing on the AZT than I have on any other long distance walk I have done.  I got hit right off the bat on Micah Mountain, and this ended up being a wild night.  I would say the closest I have ever come to being in serious jeopardy of dieing possibly of exposure.  After that my allergies to what I believe where mesquite pollen set in.  I felt like I had a head cold for about a week in the Tucson area.  Had a unplanned bail at Mt. Lemmon down into Tucson.  Then a wasted day leaving town.  Then some water issues in the Tortilla Mountains sections (not enough).  I also had the worst chafe I have ever had in my life in here.  After that I finally got Micro Monkey to mail me my bivy and rain shell (which she told me to take, but I said no wanting to save weight and I was hiking in the desert).  Just in time to encounter my 2nd snowstorm of the trip.  Then snowing off and on and really bitter cold nights on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon all the way to the Utah state line.  Almost forgot too, I got bad water somewhere and was vomiting up my meals every other day.  Nothing like getting sustenance only to have it come back up.

One thing I do look at as a positive though is that I stuck it out.  That is important as I at least know the route of the entire trail now.  Since those experiences and my record being broke now 2 times (check out Greenbears new record from this week here), I have always wanted to return and reclaim my record.  After getting my scene down with Bink in 2009 the AZT has always been on my mind.  This is a trail I would like to do right.  Posting a record that is solid and would give others a good goal would be my number one priority this year.  Hoping to come in somewhere between 7-10 days under the current record, but rally aiming for the 10 day zone.

I have decided to leave 2 weeks later this year.  My start date is April 20th.  Nothing special about that date, but I also learned last time not to travel out to the trail over Easter Weekend (which happens to be that weekend following my start date).  Oddly enough since I plan on covering 43.4 miles a day though I will be finishing the same day as in 2007 if all goes well.  When I realized this and remembered how cold I was in 2007 I added my warmie bottoms and a down vest to the mix.  The AZT is definitely a land of extremes though so no sooner are you freezing than you are sweating in the hot desert sun.  It really can be a mixed bag.  For that reason I am taking my solar umbrella on this trip.  For the desert sections this will be a huge benefit to be able to have portable shade.  Keep me from consuming too much water, keep me in the shade while walking and at breaks and if necessary as a killer front door to my poncho tarp.

AZT route and possible town resupply points ( I will use 4, but one isn't on this map)
I am carrying 3 different packs for this trip.  The plan is to start at the Arizona/ Sonora border at 7am with a hydration pack.  From here it is 52.8 miles to Patagonia, AZ the first trail town/ resupply stop on my itinerary.  I hope to run/ hike this in one day ( I say run with some reservation as when I go on my long runs here in Reno now I have what is known as a survival pace, something I can sustain for a full day vs. ripping down the trail) and stay at a bed and breakfast I have booked for the night in Patagonia.  Here I get fed, showered and pull out my 2nd pack for the next section.  I will bounce my first pack home.  The 2nd pack is a larger volume version of the first hydration pack so that I may carry more food and a few more essentials.  I am committed though as I have no sleeping bag, tarp or pad.  I will use my MLD Superlight Bivy though and a space blanket.  The distance between Patagonia and Summerhaven is 132.9 miles and I hope to cover this distance in 2.5 days a pace of 53.2 miles a day.  I mostly plan on moving through the night and just taking quick catnaps as I learned to do on the Tahoe Rim Trail last summer.  Just to give you a idea of the temperature range I am dealing with though the nights currently in Patagonia, AZ are 37* and the days are getting into the 90*s.  So I am committed to keep moving for warmth and maybe take little naps early in the morning if necessary.  My real game plan though is to move through as much of that 2nd day and night as possible.  Day 3 from experience is going to be the hardest though.  This was my hardest time on the Tahoe Rim last year.  This is when I really questioned what I was doing.  However now that I know that my body is capable of it and that I won't be feeling mentally at my best this day I am prepared to just deal with it and make the best of it.  Once in Summerhaven I pick up my MLD Prophet Pack and switch back to just backpacking the remainder of the trail.  So check out the 3 gear lists below.

AZT 1st segment (click to enlarge x 2)
AZT 2nd segment (click to enlarge x 2)
AZT 3rd segment (click to enlarge x 2)
Beyond that I will pretty much be employing all the tricks I learned from Bink in 2009.  I will be using some of my patented Krud resupply strategies too.  Did I mention I will be carrying the cell phone and mobile blogging along the way?  Yep, you betcha.  So check in to see how those first 3.5 days go.  Should be pretty wild.  Then the big question is can I keep it together to finish strong?  Can I remain consistent?

Krud with Sonora behind him AZT 2007
Also the GET is still on!  This trip just proceeds that trip.  So we are still GET ting up to GET down!


  1. Cool, man. Sounds fun. I guess I'm a little surprised that you seem to be planning for a big push at the beginning as opposed to at the end, but you know yourself and the conditions better than I do, and I hope it all works out wonderfully. Looking forward to reading about it.

  2. "there is talking about it and then there is doing it..." Nice. Looking forward to updates!

  3. Hey Onion and Comet! We will see how the first 3.5 days goes. The first 52 to Patagonia should go pretty smooth. I was running 30s on Saturdays and 40s on Sundays last fall here on the Reno Rim so I am sure the 52 is possible for me. I am not making the mistake I did on the TRT last summer though and taking off at midnight. Going to get going at a normal hour after a full nights rest. The main reason for the push in the beginning is my legs are fresh and so am I. 2nd the resupply options lend themselves to this type of itinerary, and thirdly the terrain does as well. Much of it is on old 2 track, and I wish I had outfitted myself to run much of the AZT in 2007. I am posting my training log today, so I have the miles under my belt. Running has been going really well this spring.

    Comet come Wednesday next week it is time to do it!

  4. Lots of old 2 track between the border and Patagonia... since when? Dude, that is a brutal notion to travel that stretch in one day, especially this time of year and in the middle of a crushing drought. Please document your progress if possible.

  5. Hello Anonymous,

    I don't see what you quoted above anywhere in the blog post or in my comments, so please clarify. I read the quote as this: Much of it is on old 2 track, and I wish I had outfitted myself to run much of the AZT in 2007. As in much of the AZT I traversed in 2007 was old 2 track, not any particular section as you stated above.

    As far as it being a brutal notion you can follow along here at the blog as I mobile blog. I have pretty decent cell reception for most of the AZT so will post a quick photo and text a few times a day. The mobile blogging notion was covered at the end of the blog post.

    One thing I do have going for me is first hand knowledge of the trail from my 2007 traverse. That way I don't have to rely on 2nd hand knowledge.

    Thanks for checking out the blog and hope you have a good ride while I get after it!

  6. what is the current FKT for the AZ trail?