In recent years, speed records on the National Scenic Trails have been set, broken, and set again. You’ve undoubtedly heard of Jennifer Pharr Davis and her record on the Appalachian Trail, as well as Scott Jurek and Matt Kirk. On both the AT and the Pacific Crest Trail, Heather “Anish” Anderson crushed standing records.
It wasn’t until 2012 that the first fastest completion of the Florida Trail, otherwise known as Fastest Known Time or FKT among the trail running community, was first documented and discussed online on a group known as ProBoards. Generally, runners planning to go for a record follow a protocol of announcing their intention (to the existing record holder, at a minimum) and documenting their attempt.
The trick with the Florida Trail, however, is unlike the AT and PCT, there are multiple official routes. So one runner’s mileage may not match up against another. It’s up to the runner to document their route, mileage, and claims. In addition, unlike the other National Scenic Trails, the Florida Trail includes a lot of roadwalks, forest roads, and road-like surfaces, which provide an advantage to runners. The big disadvantage to trail running the length of the Florida Trail is the number of swampy areas that the trail traverses.
Records stand for the various National Scenic Trails as supported or unsupported hikes. Jennifer Pharr Davis, for instance, did a supported hike, as did Scott Jurek. They were met at trail crossings by friends and family with resupply. Heather Anderson and Matt Kirk set unsupported records. It’s up to a runner to decide which way to tackle their FKT and declare the method by which they completed the trail. Thus far, all claims to FKT in Florida are for unsupported hikes.
The following hikers have set Fastest Known Times on the Florida Trail. Please see the specifics of their documentation for their routes, which did vary in mileage.
2012: 29 days by “Tatu Joe” Kisner. Joe has the distinction of being the first to set a record against which all others will be measured. His summary of his record on his blog.
2017: 28 days, 9 hours, 59 minutes by James “Jupiter Hikes” Hoher. A Florida native, James set his record as the culmination of a hike of more than 4,000 miles southbound along the Eastern Continental Trail. His summary of his record on his blog.
2017: 26 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes by Phil “Concrete” Phelan. Phil had previously attempted a record twice in 2016, ending up with the first yoyo hike of the Florida Trail. His summary of his record on his blog.
Other hikers who’ve beat the original record:
2017: 28 days, 8 hours by Glenn “Doc” Tremml, doing an average of 30 miles a day northbound. Doc says he had a fabulous time! Reported in the Florida Trail Hikers Facebook group. Glen’s over 55 so we’re especially impressed.