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PARK CITY, Utah (Sept. 29, 2008) - At 4:20 a.m. this morning, Karl Meltzer reached the terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Springer, Ga. for a total thru-hike time of 54 days 21 hours and 12 minutes.
Meltzer, 40, began his attempt to break the Appalachian Trail speed record on Aug. 5, 2008 at Mt. Katahdin, Me. He did not succeed. Tendonitis stopped him cold in New Hampshire for four days, and his comeback to full form was slow. The speed record, held by Andrew Thompson of Lyme, N.H., fell out of reach. Determined to finish strong despite that fact, he continued on, averaging 38.8 miles per day including the zero days (43.5 miles per day while actively hiking) to log in the fourth fastest AT thru-hike time in history.
The top six fastest AT thru-hikes:
Andrew Thompson: 47 days 13 hours 31 minutes (2005)
Pete Palmer: 48 days 20 hours 11 minutes (1999)
David Horton: 52 days 9 hours (1991)
Karl Meltzer: 54 days 21 hours 12 minutes (2008)
Scott Grierson: 55 days 20 hours 34 minutes (1991)
Jennifer Pharr Davis: 57 days 8 hours 35 minutes (2008) - women's record
"It was never an option for me to quit," said Meltzer. "It was definitely hard to keep going sometimes - harder than I ever imagined. But I started this thing knowing that it was going to be the toughest thing I've ever done, and, there's no doubt, it was."
"I'm all done," he said. "I made it to Springer, and I'm a happy man."
Meltzer is a world-class professional trail runner who has won 49 of the 92 ultra-marathons that he's started - including 23 100-mile races. He holds the record for the most 100-mile wins in one year: six in 2006.
Meltzer was supported by his experienced crew and his sponsors: Backcountry.com