You obviously have a great passion for running and ultra-running how did this passion develop?
I used to smoke cigarettes, I was in my early 20s and knew it was time for a change. I joined the local boxing club, Running was part of our training. Later that year I entered and completed my first marathon, the Wolverhampton. This changed my life forever, nine years later I got into the world of Ultra Marathon. I read a book called "Ultra Marathon man'' by Dean Karnazes, I never knew people could run 100 miles in one go. I knew this is something I wanted to do.
Have you always had your sights set on The Appalachian Trail and what is it in particular that first made you want to attempt this world record?
I first heard about the Appalachian Trail (AT) on a podcast called "talk Ultra" by Ian Corless. At the time Scott Jurek was preparing to go for a northbound attempt on the Appalachian Trail. Hearing Ian and his co-host Karll Meltzer talk about the Appalachian Trail captured my imagination. Later I met someone named Karel Sabbe at Marathon Des Sables, he told me he was going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), this is a long trail on the west coast of America covering the entire country from Mexico to Canada. My new friend not only hiked the PCT but set a new fastest known time (FKT). I reached out to him and congratulated him.. Karel then invited me to pace him on the Appalachian Trail as he would be going after Scott Jureks' record. I said yes. I spent one third of the full attempt of my friend's record with him on trail. It's in this time I fell in love with the Appalachian Trail and realised I would make a record attempt myself one day. Karel did actually break Scott's record.
What are you most looking forward to on the trip and what are your least looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to just being on the AT having surpassed all the training and logistical planning. I'm fully aware this will be metaphorically speaking the biggest mountain I have ever climbed. And I know it will include physical pain and suffering, but I can't say that I'm not looking forward to this. My mental approach for this record attempt is to embrace the good and bad times. So I cannot really say I'm not looking forward to any particular part of the expedition. Some days it's going to suck, other days I'm going to feel like I'm in heaven.
What is the current world record and what is your target finish time?
- The current world record is held by my friend Karel and stands at 41 days 7 hours and 39 minutes. I have a list of goals as follows…
- Be the first and only person in history to break 40 days
- Break 41 days
- Break my friends record
- Become the second fastest person to ever complete the AT
- Be amongst the top 5 fastest people in the world to finish the Trail
- Break 50 days
- Finish the Trail
After the AT do you have another record attempt in mind, or will you look at that after this challenge?
To be completely honest this has been a focus of mine for 4 years now, it's hard to see beyond the AT but I know for sure if I get the record I'm gonna have a massive party. Then after that I will start thinking about other projects, which include the National trails in America, like the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental divide. Even if it means Thru hiking the others. I would like to become a Triple Crowner, that someone has completed all the three major hiking trails in the USA.
Obviously, nutrition will be key in achieving the record, how much food will you be taking and many calories per day do you plan on consuming during the trip?
Well totally thanks to you guys I'll be taking 100 meals by the Real Turmat. Definitely will use the breakfasts for morning (3:30am) and the dinners for my evening meal. Outside of the meals you have provided I'll need to consume in between 8,000 and 12,000 cal per day, I know that's a wide range but it's hard to pinpoint the exact number. I'll be making up these calories with food that my crew will resupply from Walmart and fast food takeaways along the way. You name it I will eat it. Beef jerky, snickers bars, fizzy drinks, McDonald's, fried chicken, energy bars, potato chips, sandwiches, wraps, candy bars, the idea is to eat real food not gels.
You have also decided to take only Real Turmat meals with you supplied by Base Camp Foods, what was the reasoning behind just taking Real Turmat meals?
Base Camp Foods kindly supplied a wide range of meals for my 630 mile South-West Coast Path (SWCP) world record attempt in 2020. It was during this time that the Real Turmat stood out to me from the other brands of meals. Each day I would run 60 miles, at the end of each day I would meet my crew. I arrived tired and hungry. Every time I saw Real Turmat had been prepared for me I just felt I was in for a treat. So I thought that's how I'd like to feel every morning and night with my record attempt on the Appalachian Trail, that's why I asked for only the Real Turmat brand.
Are you going to have a crew with you on the trip or are you doing this completely solo?
This will be a fully supported northbound record attempt. The current record was northbound and fully supported. There are other styles of approaching the record as in self-supported, but I want to go after the fastest record and it's in this manner that it was set. Therefore, I am chasing that.
Where will you stay on the trip, will it be a mixture of camping, hotels, hostels and refuges or will you be camping the whole time?
That's a great question and can only be answered when I'm out on the trail. Even though I'm going for a supported record I will be doing it in a self-supported fashion as much as possible. This will give me the freedom to camp on the trail away from my crew in the evenings, making best use of any remaining daylight. If I happened to end my day with the crew and they are close to a motel or hostel then I'm sure they will book us in, as long as it takes no time away from making progress on the trail. When my friend Karel set the record, in the time I was with him most nights were spent on the trail, but there was the occasional night in which we stayed in a motel because the finish point at the end of the day may have been close to one. So I will take the same approach.
Will you be taking a camping stove with you and if so, do you have a favourite lightweight stove for long trips like these?
My crew will be using a camping stove, they have a MSR Whisperlite. As for me, the nights I camp out alone I'll have a Real Turmat meal with me. It will be a matter of cold soaking to save weight. Fast and light is my approach.
You can book online run coaching with Kristian through his website, where you will also find his podcast, or follow Kristian's progress through his Instagram account:
Run Coaching and Podcast website: www.kristianultra.com