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For the third time in five years, there is a new speed-record holder on the Appalachian Trail.
Karl Meltzer, 48, of Sandy, Utah, reached the trail’s southern end at Georgia’s Springer Mountain early Sunday, according to a post on the ultrarunner’s Instagram account. He departed Maine’s Mount Katahdin at 5 a.m. August 3 and covered the approximately 2,189-mile trail in 45 days 22 hours 38 minutes.
This broke by 9 hours 29 minutes the previous record of 46 days 8 hours 7 minutes, set by Scott Jurek last year. Jurek bested Jennifer Pharr Davis’s 2011 recordof 46 days 11 hours 20 minutes by a little over three hours.
Meltzer maintained an average of approximately 46 miles per day. He had to cover around 85 miles in the final 24 hours to set the record, according to social media updates on his personal and athlete pages.
The AT’s difficult terrain threw several challenges at Meltzer during his record attempt, including dense fog and windy conditions that slowed him in the early stages, and knee and shin pain that slowed him near the midway point.
His record attempt survived two moderate scares. Early in the third week, Meltzer became separated from his crew and slept on the floor of a stranger he met off the trailhead in Massachusetts. Then, on day 33, he became overcome with fatigue and took several extra hours of sleep on the trail, covering only 23 miles that day.
Meltzer’s support crew and pacers throughout the journey included previous record holders Jurek and David Horton.
This was Meltzer’s third attempt at the AT speed record. He completed the trail in 2008 but finished slower than record pace, and abandoned a 2013 attempt when he fell off record pace early on.