Scott Jurek has broken the speed record on the Appalachian Trail, but he didn't smash it as it seemed he would.
Jurek started his quest to become the fastest person to hike the AT end-to-end back May 27 when he set out from Springer Mountain in Georgia. Ahead of him lay 2185 miles of trail, and a four year old record that was currently held by Jennifer Pharr Davis. The time to beat was 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. In order to set a new speed record, he would need to reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine in less time than that.
At the mid-way point of the attempt it appeared that Jurek would crush the old mark by three or four days. But the second half of the run didn't go quite as expected, and the ultrarunner's cushion began to evaporate. As the days slipped away, it even appeared at some point that he might not break the record at all. Jurek himself even told his support crew at one point that the attempt was over. He himself didn't believe that he had enough time, and could travel fast enough, to catch Pharr Davis' record. But in the end, he managed to finish the hike, and set a new mark in the process.
The speed record for completing the Appalachian Trail now stands at 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. That's an impressive time no matter how you slice it, and Scott should be incredibly happy with his efforts. Congratulations to him on a job well done. His efforts were both inspiring, and a good reminder of just how difficult these types of endeavors can be.