Outdoors blog

Runner sets supported speed record on Pacific Crest Trail

Joe McConaughy strides down the Pacific Crest Trail while approaching a checkpoint close to Big Lake near the Santiam Pass en route to running the length of the trail from Mexico to Canada in record time.

 (Andy Tullis / The (Bend) Bulletin)
Joe McConaughy strides down the Pacific Crest Trail while approaching a checkpoint close to Big Lake near the Santiam Pass en route to running the length of the trail from Mexico to Canada in record time. (Andy Tullis / The (Bend) Bulletin)

TRAILS -- A 23-year-old Seattle man has set speed record for running the length of the Pacific Crest Trail supported by a team of helpers.

Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the U.S-Mexico border on the 2,660-mile trail through California, Oregon and Washington, according to his fund-raising website and a report on the Northwest News Network.

  • The video above features McConaughy halfway through his trek
  • Also read this story by the Bend Bulletin, by reporters who caught the former collegiate runner as he was averaging 55 miles a day through Oregon.
  • In the end, he averaged just over 50 miles a day through desert and then the highest and some of the most rugged mountains in the West.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association has not yet acknowledged the record, but there is no official time keeper for long distance trail records.

McConaughy followed protocol with other record-setting attempts by using a satellite tracking beacon to verify his route and time. He says he ran the downhill and flat sections and generally hiked the uphills.

The Seattle native completed the trail six days faster than the accepted record time for a supported end-to-end Pacific Crest Trail hike set last summer by a Santa Monica College track coach and exercise physiology instructor:

  • Last summer, Josh Garrett, who emphasized his vegan diet – set the supported PCT speed record of 59 days, 8 hours and 14 minutes..

From a backpacker's standpoint, McConaughy's supported running record isn't even in the same league as the separate record for trekking border to border alone, without an accompanying support team.

McConaughy had three buddies who leap-frogged his itinerary and met up with him almost daily with supplies and camping gear. That meant he could run most days with just an ultralight day pack.

McConaughy used his speed trek to raise money for cancer support services in honor of his late cousin, Colin McConaughy. The fundraising total was near $27,000 earlier today.

McConaughy, who went by the trail name String Bean, says he lost 18 pounds off an already lean frame.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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