The 26-year-old Seattle native describes the highs and also lows that his journey, including the final 37-hour, 110.8-mile press to the peak of mount Katahdin.


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Joe McConaughy has actually a serious case of cankles. His knees space puffy, swollen masses, walking is “a chore” and his appetite is unrelenting. Overall, that feels “pretty dead.”

It’s been 5 days because the 26-year-old Seattle native damaged the Appalachian trail (AT) thru-hike rate record, and also the recovery is almost as brutal together journey itself.

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“I’m certainly still the end of it,” Boston-based McConaughy laughs, back his actions imply otherwise. He’s already earlier at job-related (his employer, the travel and also education agency EF college Break, granted the a leaving of absence to finish the hike) and thinking towards his following challenge. “Maybe western States,” that says, introduce to the 100-mile endurance race in California known for the beautiful however unrelenting landscape. The lengthy Trail in Vermont and also the Wonderland trail in Washington are also on the table.

This indefatigable journey for "more" explains how McConaughy, known on the trail as “Stringbean,” averaged 48 miles a day because that six and a half weeks directly to finish the 2,189-mile in ~ in the fastest known time ever recorded: 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes. The tracked his effort via GPS, sharing regular updates top top Instagram (
thestring.bean), and his time has been verified by the Fastest known Time board member Peter Bakwin. (There is no official sanctioning body because that AT records.)

What’s more, McConaughy completed the challenge self-supported, meaning he had actually no sponsors, crew or organized support and also instead relied on hiker towns and road crossings come resupply food and also water. Each day, that lugged a 25-pound backpack comprise his clothes, resting bag, tent, clinical supplies and a three-to-four day ration that food and also water.

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"I to be in shock and also pain, joyful and thankful, humbled and tired, in disbelief and also exhilaration," McCougnahy created in an Instagram article announcing his finish. "I will certainly be forever perplexed and also appreciative the what the wilderness brings out in myself and others."

McConaughy’s time smashed the previous self-supported record, collection in 2015 by pagan Anderson, by ripe days, and even eclipsed the sustained record, set in 2016 by knife "Speedgoat" Meltzer, through 10 hours. He perfect on Thursday, august 31, summiting Maine’s mount Katahdin in ~ 6:38 p.m. After ~ a sleepless 37-hour, 110.8-mile push, i beg your pardon is nearly dual the furthest street he’d ever before run up till that point.

“Believe it or not, that <37-hour stretch> had some of the the happiest times because that me,” claims McConaughy, who ran track and cross nation at Boston College. “I did few of my best running then.”

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He persevered v rain, hail, darkness and also a throbbing ache in his left knee by maintaining close tabs top top his nutrition and hydration levels and also hyping self up together needed. “I’d call myself, ‘This might suck now, but you gotta get through it and also there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.’”

That light came in the kind of Katie Kiracofe, McConaughy’s girlfriend, and also Josh Katzman, his friend, that hiked up 5,291-foot Katahdin come greet him at the summit. They invited an emotional, rain-soaked McConaughy v hugs, an emergency blanket and warm, dried clothes.

The trio hiked down the hill and collection up camp for the night, whereby McConaughy says he ate “like nine s’mores” for dinner. The following morning, lock drove come Boston and McConaughy took pleasure in his first “real meal” at The Deluxe terminal Diner.

He notified the “The Hungry Person” special, a greasy, colossal spread out of pancakes, eggs, sausage, house fries and toast. He likewise ate fifty percent of Kiracofe’s breakfast.

Easy work were couple of and much between

McConaughy, who collection the sustained speed document for the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest trail (PCT) in 2014, started seriously contemplating the in ~ self-supported difficulty about ten months ago. “After act the PCT, I assumed "What’s next?’” that says.”The at seemed like a natural next step and also it slowly prospered as a particle in my mind.”

He trained for the job with number of ultramarathons this spring, including the back-to-back Gorge waterfall 100K and also the Lake Sonoma 50. (His friends made a documentary about the experiences and also are now working on one more film around his in ~ feat). He also spent a pair weeks in Canada’s Banff’s national Park, logging miles and also miles top top the mountainous terrain—although in retrospect, nothing could truly prepare him for the soot of the AT, i m sorry traverses 14 states and also includes much more than 500,000 feet of elevation change. It’s a humid, buggy, rocky and densely wooded trek, and the Appalachian trace Conservancy (the entity that maintains the trail) recommends hikers allot 5 to seven months to finish it finish to end.

Tackle the trail through these rugged brand-new kicks.​


In reflecting on the journey, McConaughy states the amount of injuries he sustained was the many surprisingly challenging part. “That to be a continuous battle,” he says, describing sprained ankles, extreme chafing, number of wasp stings, pains blisters, a sore ~ above his lower back, puffy quads and a situation of rhabdomyolysis, which is once muscle organization breaks down and releases damaging protein into the blood. “Easy job were couple of and much between,” that says.

He additionally underestimated his caloric needs. “Three main in, ns was ravenous and also could call that i wasn’t providing myself what my body needed to store this up,” he claims of his 8,000-calories-a-day diet. He subsisted mostly on Oreos, trace mix, muffins, protein bars and what he calls “trail magic,” a.k.a the kindness of strangers.

There was “the omelette guy” in Vermont who cooked that “the most delicious” eggs v ham, onions and also peppers; “the sloppy joe guy” who noted a namesake heat meal; the fellow runner with antibiotic cream that helped tame the open up sore top top McConaughy’s foot, and also the passersby who donated extra batteries so the he might run through the night.

"I desire to offer a heartfelt thank you to...trail angels and the trail community," McConaughy created on Instagram.

It yes, really took a village

McConaughy’s gratitude likewise extends to Meltzer and also Anderson, whose records inspired—and pushed—him transparent his trek.

In a show of sportsmanship, Meltzer posted number of encouraging comments on McConaughy’s Instagram as he closeup of the door in on Katahdin. “Time to punch it Stringbean!” he composed on august 28. “You got this!”

Several days prior to McConaughy’s finish, Meltzer said Runner’s World, “I am psyched because that him—I hope he gets it .” McConaughy claims Anderson reached out come him after the finished, offering her congratulations via email.

“I"ve had actually a many time in my very own thoughts, and what ns took away many from this journey is community,” McConaughy composed in the Instagram short article announcing his feat.

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Perhaps someday—and maybe someday soon—that town will mobilize again because that McConaughy together he eyes various other ultrarunning speed challenges, choose the 486-mile Colorado Trail. Because that now, though, he can only plan as far as his following doctor appointment.

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“I must see an ankle specialist for the tightness in mine left ankle and shin,” McConaughy says, adding that his left knee probably warrants a check-up together well. ("I think ns tore a ligament behind ," he says.)

Injuries aside, Stringbean really hopes his success will accumulate others come tackle lengthy distance running challenges.

“You don’t need to aim for the stars to execute something like this,” the says. “It’s pretty funny and available and girlfriend just have actually to get a little experience v learning.”