Archive for July, 2023

New Hampshire 4000 Footers FKT

Perched high on the eastern ridge of Slide Peak South in the Pinkham Notch Scenic Area is a massive erratic called the Glen Boulder. The Glen Boulder looks like it could go tumbling down the mountain at any moment, but it has remained inert in its resting place since the last ice age.

In the fall of 2022, my preparations for an attempt to improve on the supported FKT of New Hampshire’s 4000 Footers were like the Glen Boulder: massive but inert. I was quite happy with this. The idea of making another attempt at the record was always percolating in the back of mind, but I didn’t feel a burning need to make another attempt. All that was needed to get things moving, however, was a well-timed and properly leveraged push. Will Peterson provided that push.

Last October, Will invited me to join him for a casual hike of Mt. Cardigan. During the hike, we discussed a wide range of topics including Will’s 2022 NH-48 FKT hike and his plans to do an unsupported hike of the Long Trail in 2023. At some point, I said something about still being interested in the supported NH-48 FKT. I may have mentioned that it still felt like unfinished business to me. Without missing a beat, Will offered to support me if I wanted to make an attempt at the record. This was very generous considering that, while Alyssa Godesky now held the overall FKT, Will still held the men’s FKT. In other words, Will was offering to help me beat his own record.

Not long after getting back from the hike, I was catching up with my daughter Brianna over the phone, and I told her what Will had offered. Brianna and I had made an attempt at the overall FKT in 2014. We had come up well short of the overall record, but with a sprint to the finish, Brianna managed a 16-minute improvement on the women’s FKT. On hearing about Will’s offer, Brianna immediately offered to help support me. Brianna’s husband Mike overheard our conversation, and he offered to help support me too.

A few weeks later I was on my annual hunting trip with my brothers, and I mentioned to my brother John that I might make an attempt at the record. John is a self-described 100-mile specialist who finished 10th in UTMB in 2013. Most of what I learned about ultra endurance running I learned from John. He lives in Spain most of the year, but he offered to come to NH to support me.

I now had four exceptional endurance athletes offering to support me on a record attempt. I had been studying New Hampshire’s 4000 Footers for almost a decade with an eye toward improving on the supported FKT. I was now 60 years old, and I wasn’t getting any younger or faster. It seemed it was now or never. Will had dislodged the boulder, and Brianna, Mike, and John had gotten it rolling. I began telling people that I would make an attempt as long as I remained healthy. In truth, however, there was no stopping it now. Healthy or not, I was going to make an attempt at the record.


My friend and running guru, John Tuttle, has a number of rules for running. Rule #1 is: “Run every day.” I had missed a few days during the past few years, but very few. During the week, I generally get up between 4:30 and 5:30 AM and do a run between 60 and 90 minutes. On the weekends, I do some longer runs. In 2021 and 2022, I averaged about 12.5 hours of training per week. This training gave me a good base from which to start, but I needed to do more to prepare for the NH-48.

One complication was I had been training with a sore Achilles tendon and heel bursitis since around the middle of 2022. I needed to “fix” this, but I didn’t know how. I read that Haken Alfredson’s heel drop protocol had a 90% success rate of curing Achilles tendon pain in 12 weeks. I began doing the exercises morning and night.

I couldn’t wait 12 weeks, however, to begin my training. I needed to increase my volume, and I needed to do that without aggravating my Achilles tendon. The solution I came up with was to do the majority of my base training on skis. I started getting up between 4:00 and 4:30 AM on weekdays. I generally did a little warmup running and then two laps of ski touring on nearby Gunstock Mountain.

On Saturdays, I did five laps of ski touring on the mountain followed by 3+ hours of running. I started these workouts in a fasted state, and I didn’t eat until I bonked. That usually happened about 90 minutes into my run. After I bonked, I would down some gels and finish out the run, running as fast as I could. My goal was to get my body into the glycogen-depleted state it would be in for most of a NH-48 attempt and then train it to be able to move at a good pace while in that state.

When the snow melted in early April, I replaced my ski touring hours with running and hiking and kept my training volume between 15 and 20 hours a week. My Achilles and heel bursitis were still a problem, but the heel drop exercises enabled me to keep training. I started doing track workouts once a week under John Tuttle’s direction, and I sprinkled in a few 5K races. For reference, my best 5K time was just over 20 minutes. Fortunately, anaerobic speed is not that important for multiday challenges.

My training peaked four weeks before the start of my attempt with 22 hours and 105 miles for the week. I continued to train hard, however, and two weeks before the start I did 89 miles and almost 20 hours.

Nine days before the start, I did a quad conditioning workout invented by my brother John. My variation of this was to ride the chairlift up Gunstock Mountain and then race my chair down. I did this seven times. The goal of the workout was to induce a solid case of DOMS. John claims this bulletproofs your quads if done approximately 10 days before a race or challenge. I succeeded in inducing a strong case of DOMS. Time would tell if the workout would prevent quad soreness during my attempt.

The Route

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One of the things that hooked me on the New Hampshire 4000 Footers FKT years ago was that there was no defined route. Each record seeker can use a route of his or her choosing. For me, half of the fun of this challenge has been searching for the most efficient way to traverse the 48 peaks. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for this elusive route. I haven’t found it, but I have learned a lot about the White Mountains in the process. This knowledge helped me weigh some of the tradeoffs and pick a good route for my attempt.

To determine if one route can be traversed faster than another, I needed a metric that I could use to compare the efficiency of alternative routes. Distance doesn’t work because the time required to traverse two routes of the same distance can vary widely due to differences in the elevation gain and technical difficulty of the trails. My brother John has used “equivalent miles” to evaluate segments of race routes and the John Muir Trail. I generalized this concept a bit to Equivalent Track Distance (ETD).

The Equivalent Track Distance of a trail is the distance on a track that I can cover in the time that it takes me hike/run the trail while working at the same effort level (i.e., heart rate). I describe how I calculate ETD in my write-up on my 2019 unsupported hike. In short, ETD is a function of the distance, elevation gain, and technical difficulty (technical factor) of a trail.

Over the past 9 years, I have spent hundreds and probably thousands of hours building out a spreadsheet that lists the values of these variables for most of the possible trail segments that might be used in a NH-48 FKT hike. With the spreadsheet, I can list the waypoint IDs of a candidate route, and the spreadsheet will automatically calculate the distance, elevation gain, ETD, and projected split time (based on a projected ETD pace) for each segment of the route. The spreadsheet will then sum these variables and calculate totals for the entire route.

When preparing for my 2019 unsupported hike, I wrote a branch-and-bound traveling salesman algorithm to find for the most efficient way to traverse the peaks. Unfortunately, the algorithm I wrote is not efficient enough to identify the most efficient route for a supported hike because there are many more viable solutions for a supported hike due to the ability to drive quickly between different trailheads. I spent some time trying to improve the efficiency of the algorithm, but it was taking too much time. I gave up trying to solve the general problem (for now) and focused instead on fine tuning a few candidate routes.

My first draft of the route began at the Ferncroft Trailhead, traversed the southern peaks, and had me ending the day with a bushwhack along the ridge between the Hancock Loop Trail and the summit of Mt. Carrigain. I hiked the bushwhack last fall. Via the bushwhack, it is only 4.5 miles from South Hancock to Mt. Carrigain. The vegetation is unbelievably thick, however, and it took me 3 hours and 26 minutes to go from South Hancock to Mt. Carrigain.

By my spreadsheet, the bushwhack would have saved at least 15 minutes of trail time and 35 minutes of driving time compared to the next-best alternative. This was a significant savings, but I would have had to start my hike at 3:00 or 4:00 AM to complete the bushwhack before dark. This would have cost me 3-4 hours of sleep on the night before the start of my effort, and I was concerned this could lead to significant problems on the latter part of my attempt. I was also concerned that the risk of injury was high on the long bushwhack through very dense undergrowth, and that an injury so early in the effort could doom my chances of improving on the record. Finally, as the start day approached, it looked like there would be rain on the first day of my attempt. If there was, I would get soaked by the water on the trees, and that this could lead to blisters and chafing.

I was still going back-and-forth on this decision the weekend before the start. My brother John talked me out of it. I removed the bushwhack from the route and changed my start to the Hancock Notch Trailhead.

My first draft of the route also included a bushwhack down the west side of Mt. Cabot, exiting over some private land. I had scouted the route last fall. The landowner had a sign on his door saying that hikers were welcome. This led me to believe that it would be okay to cross this private land on my FKT attempt.

I mentioned my plan to do this bushwhack to Alyssa Godesky in passing, and she expressed concern about the use of private land. I had some discussions with the landowner, and he generously agreed to allow me and any future record-seekers to use his land, but there were no guarantees that the route would remain open when the land passed to a new owner. I shared my discussions with the landowner with Alyssa and asked for her opinion. She said she was black and white on the issue. If the route crossed private land and there was no established trail and trailhead that was marked on maps, she wouldn’t use it.

Under Cave Dog’s initial rules for the 4000 Footers FKT, someone who improves on the record can add requirements to the route. Alyssa wasn’t proposing a new rule, but she had established a precedent. I decided that I should follow her precedent, and I removed the bushwhack from my route. I also later looked up the FKT guidelines (something I should have done sooner), and they said not to use private land. Clearly, it would have been a mistake to include this section in my route. I was very grateful to Alyssa for helping me avoid this mistake.

In hindsight, the decision to forgo the Mt. Cabot bushwhack was a smart one irrespective of the private land question. The bushwhack would not have saved any trail time. It would have only saved about 30 minutes of driving time. These 30 minutes of driving time, however, provided the first sleep of my attempt. This sleep came at a critical time and helped me prepare for the long day in the Pemi Wilderness.

One of the last big decisions for my route was whether to do the Pemi Wilderness west-to-east or east-to-west. A few weeks before the start of my attempt, my brother John and I started at North Twin and did the western half of the route east-to-west. The Owl’s Head and Lincoln Slide bushwhacks took about the same time east-to-west as west-to-east, once the difference in elevation gain was accounted for. The steep descents down South Twin and Flume Slide, however, made the trail time of the east-to-west direction longer than the trail time of west-to-east direction. The drive time of the west-to-east direction was longer, but when I plugged the numbers into my spreadsheet, it predicted that the trail-time savings of the west-to-east direction would be equal to the drive-time increase. In other words, my spreadsheet predicted that the total time of doing the section west-to-east was the same as doing it east-to-west, but the west-to-east direction gave me more time to rest. Given this, I decided to do the section west-to-east.

In hindsight, this was also a good call. During my attempt, I slept on the driving legs both before and after this section. Together, I got about an hour of sleep on these driving legs, which was about two thirds of what I got overall.

The final route adjustment was made the weekend before my start. My draft route had me descending Mt. Madison via the Pine Link Trail. On paper, this was the fastest route and set me up for a short drive to the Wildcat Ski Area. Will Peterson had questioned whether this was the most efficient route, however, noting that the Pine Link trail was very technical and included some additional ascending. These were valid concerns, so I planned to do a test hike of the section and compare the time to descend via Pine Link and Valley Way. I ran out of time, however, and I still hadn’t hiked this section the weekend before the start. Very generously, my brother John offered to hike it for me.

Two days before the start of my attempt, John drove up to the Whites and hiked up and down both Pine Link and Valley Way in heavy rain and wind. The weather and John’s slippery shoes could have tilted the results, but his results showed that the trail time of Valley Way was faster by the same amount of the increase in the drive time. In other words, both routes appeared to take the same amount of time to get from Madison to Wildcat Ski Area. Given this, I decided to descend via the less-technical Valley Way Trail to save some pounding on my legs and get more rest on the drive to Wildcat.

By my calculations, the final route was 186.0 miles long with 60,949 feet of elevation gain, and the total Equivalent Track Distance was 476.0 miles. The route had 5.2 hours of driving time, and I planned for 4.4 hours of additional sleep/rest. I estimated 2 lb. on average for my vest, tracker, a few personal items, and one 500 ml flask of fuel. By my model, this weight would add an hour to my time.

Once the route was set, I adjusted the ETD pace until the total projected time was 80 hours (56 minutes faster than the FKT). The pace came out to 8.88 minutes per Equivalent Track Mile (ETM). This would be my goal pace.

Support Crew

When Brianna and I made our first attempt at the supported NH-48 record in 2014, my son Michael helped with communication and coordination from home, but my wife Melanie was our sole support on the route. She drove us between all the trailheads, prepared our food, washed our clothes, etc. She did all of it.

Since then, NH-48 record attempts have evolved and become more competitive. Now, to have a shot at the record, I assumed I needed to have 1-2 pacers with me all the time who carried all my gear, and that I needed a crew of people to man the support vehicle. For this attempt, my support crew consisted of nine people:

  • Angela Tidd (daughter): Support vehicle crew and overall coordinator / crew captain
  • Blake (Boomer) Flowers (Angela’s boyfriend): Support vehicle crew and pacer shuttle driver
  • Brianna Tidd (daughter): Pacer
  • Danielle Tidd (daughter): Support vehicle crew
  • John Tidd (brother): Pacer
  • Katrina Tidd (daughter): Support vehicle crew
  • Melanie Tidd (wife): Support vehicle driver
  • Mike Brown (Brianna’s husband): Pacer
  • Will Peterson (friend): Pacer

Angela and Boomer had been staying with Melanie and me while Boomer had been doing his pilot training at Delta. Boomer had just completed his training, and he went out of his way to arrange the schedule of his first flights so he could be there to support my attempt.

Brianna and Mike live in Seattle. They flew in a few days before my attempt.

Danielle lives in Cali, Colombia. She flew in the week before my attempt. She came for a family visit but generously gave up her plans to lounge in the Airbnb’s hot tub so she could change my socks and clean out my dirty shoes.

  • While preparing for the start, John posted that “someone will need to clean up your ‘used’ shoes. pull out the inserts and wring those out so they dry faster.” Danielle responded to this and wrote, “Please write your name if you are interested in applying for the position of used shoe insert wringer. This is a highly desirable and competitive position, so please do not feel discouraged if you are not selected in the first round of hiring.”

Will finished his first year of medical school the Friday before the start. He then went and supported his friend Xander on Xander’s Hundred Mile Wilderness FKT. Will finished pacing Xander on Tuesday morning at the northern end of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. He then came and met me on the summit of Mt. Washington just before noon on Wednesday.

Of my five children, only my son Michael was not able to make it for this attempt. Michael had supported me on prior attempts, but he had a wedding in Hawaii that prevented him from joining this effort. He followed me the whole time he was in Hawaii, though, and he was standing by to help if needed. He had geofencing set up to get alerts when I hit peaks, etc.

Someone (Danielle, I think) joked that people used to have a lot of kids so they would have plenty of workers for the family farm. She said I had a lot of kids so they could support me on the NH-48.

Final Preparations

Late last year, I set the 10 days beginning on June 19th as the window for my attempt to allow my pacers to plan travel etc. My hope was to find 4 days of good weather within this window. This proved to be harder than expected, as June was much rainier than normal. Toward the end of the week prior to my attempt, however, a couple of days of good weather appeared in the forecast: Wednesday, June 21st and Thursday, June 22nd. There was some rain forecast for Tuesday the 20th, and Friday, the 23rd, but the amount of precipitation forecast was small. Given this, I set a tentative start date for Tuesday, June 20th.

Once the date was set, Melanie reserved a high-roof cargo van for the support vehicle, and Angela booked an Airbnb in Twin Mountain that would be our base of operations. The Airbnb had a hard constraint to check out on Friday morning. We would have liked to have had more flexibility, but the place was a good fit for our needs, so we went with it. We could eat the cost of this if the weather forecast changed, but we were quickly getting locked into the June 20th start date.

On Saturday, Melanie and Boomer went to Manchester to pick up the van. When they returned, Mike secured our futon into the back of the van with ratchet straps and rope. This would be my main source of comfort in the days and nights ahead.

On Saturday, I began working on a critical final feature to my spreadsheet. I set it up so my support crew could enter the actual times as I reached peaks and trailheads during the challenge and have the spreadsheet update my estimates for future milestones based on the actual results. For the first few segments, the spreadsheet just added or subtracted the actual time from the projected time and applied the difference to future milestone projections. After the first 10 segments, however, the spreadsheet calculated my average ETD pace from the last 8 segments and applied this pace to all future milestones. This ensured that if I slowed and was unable to maintain my goal pace, it would show up in the estimates.

I was still tweaking this feature up until the night before my start, but this last-minute addition to the spreadsheet really unlocked its power. It enabled my support crew to predict within minutes when I would arrive at trailheads, and it enabled my pacers to know when I needed to pick up the pace. Adding this capability to the spreadsheet was arguably the most important thing I did in the days leading up to the start. Of course, I could have added this at any time in the months leading up to the attempt.

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Angela, Boomer, and Danielle deciphering my spreadsheet

One issue, though, was there was no cell service at many of the trailheads, and my spreadsheet and transition checklist were hosted online. As such, my support crew would often not be able to access these documents when they needed them. They could save offline copies of the documents, but these copies would not have the latest updates and projections.

Brianna and Mike solved this problem by creating printed information sheets and checklists for each transition for both pacers and the support vehicle crew. The pacers, who would have access to the latest spreadsheet updates at the Airbnb, would write the latest projections into these printed documents and bring the updated documents with them to the trailheads.

On Sunday, Brianna and Mike had to go to Logan Airport to pick up a bag that had not arrived with them on their flight. The bag had most of their gear in it. They told me they wanted me to be fully packed when they got back. I failed. I was still working on my food resupply packets when they returned. I hadn’t even started to pack my gear.

On Monday morning, the house looked like a bomb had gone off in it. Gradually, things improved, as gear was moved into the van and support vehicles. We finished packing in the late afternoon. Melanie and I left in the van for the Airbnb, and the rest of the crew drove to Concord to drop a car that Katrina could use when she arrived on Wednesday.

One good thing about relocating to the Airbnb was it set us up for a relatively relaxing evening before the start. Angela cooked a nice meal, and we did a walk-through of the transitions. I made it to bed around 10:30, and I set my alarm for 5:00 AM.

Day 1: Tuesday, June 20th

On Tuesday morning, I woke up before my alarm went off at about 4:45. I took advantage of the extra minutes to take care of one last work thing. It was a simple task, but I had trouble doing it. My hands were shaking a little. Clearly, my subconscious knew what was coming.

I showered but didn’t eat. John had taught me that you shouldn’t eat within two hours of a race because it will release insulin into your bloodstream which will prevent you from burning fat.

One of the last things I did was my Haken Alfredson’s heel drop protocol exercises. My Achilles and heel bursitis had not improved, but they didn’t bother me once I warmed up. My larger concern was a pain on the inside of my right knee that had started a couple months earlier and gradually gotten worse. This had been causing me to limp a bit when walking. Fortunately, it didn’t bother me much when I was running. I expected that my heel and knee issues would result in some slow starts after sleeping/resting in the van, but I didn’t think they would end my attempt.

Melanie, Angela, Boomer, Brianna, and I left the Airbnb shortly after 6:00 AM. We arrived at Hancock Notch Overlook a little before 7:00 AM.

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I put on my shoes, and we took a few pictures, remembering when Brianna and I had taken a picture there on Day 4 of our 2014 attempt.

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At 7:00 AM, I started my InReach tracker, but we were not quite ready to go. Rather than start at an odd minute, we waited until 7:05 to start. I ate a few bites of oatmeal while we waited. (John says you can eat 5 minutes before the start.)

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Boomer counted down the seconds while we stood at the sign/gate at the beginning of the trail at the end of the parking lot. (We could have saved a minute or so and started at the trailhead on the hairpin curve but starting that the sign seemed more official.)

At 7:05 exactly, I pressed the start button on my watch, and Brianna and I headed out. We jogged at an easy pace up the flat trail. I was pretty wound up, and my heart rate was much higher than normal. I was able jog up the slight inclines, however, and keep my heart rate under 135.

One of my main goals for the start was to keep my average heart rate under 135. I had run some tests and experiments that showed my heart rate was around 135 when I was burning carbs at 360 calories per hour, the theoretical maximum that I can absorb. I wanted to keep my carb burn rate below my carb consumption rate in hopes of deferring glycogen depletion as long as possible.

This was easier said than done in my amped-up condition. I had to work very hard to keep my heart rate down on the steep climb up North Hancock. I wasn’t feeling the effort at all, and I felt like we were crawling. My heart rate hit 140 a few times, and I forced myself to slow down. I found that I could lower my heart rate by 5-10 beats per minute by doing a cycle of box breathing.

The pace seemed painfully slow, but we reached the summit of North Hancock right on schedule. Brianna noted the time (8:35) and used my phone to message it to the support crew via my InReach. She didn’t tell me how we did relative to the target, and I didn’t ask.

We followed this basic procedure at each peak throughout the attempt. When I tagged a peak, one of my pacers would note the time and message it to the support crew via my InReach or WhatsApp. Sometimes a pacer would give me a bit of feedback and let me know if we had been slow or fast on the segment, but often they wouldn’t say anything. I never asked how I was doing, and I never once pulled up my spreadsheet to see how I was doing. I let my pacers worry about the pace. I focused on fueling and moving as fast and efficiently as I could.

As for fueling, my goal was to eat one gel and drink 500 ml of powdered drink mix per hour. I alternated between Chocolate Perpetuem and Maurten. This simple system made it easy for my pacers to keep track of my intake, and they were very good at reminding me how much time I had left to finish the flask I was working on.

Will later pointed out a “major” flaw in my fueling plan: it didn’t include Infinit. In hindsight, I should have included Infinit and other drink mixes in the rotation. It would have made fueling easier later in the attempt.

Brianna and I summited South Hancock slightly ahead of schedule and then made our way back toward the trailhead. As we neared the trailhead, Brianna tried to radio the crew on a small two-way radio, but we couldn’t get through. Boomer was waiting at the trailhead before the road though, and he shouted to Melanie and Angela that we were coming. We arrived about 5 minutes behind my goal pace.

Success! I had not gone out too fast!

One thing I did that I would come regret was I didn’t stop my watch between the segments. I let it run. This was a deliberate decision. I didn’t want to risk forgetting to start my watch, so I decided to let it run and recharge it on van rides while it was still running. I didn’t stop my watch until late on Day 2, after completing the Wildcat – Carter range.

After I finished the challenge and tried to sync my watch, the Suunto app wouldn’t sync this large activity. I tried everything I could, but I couldn’t get it to sync. Then, in an act of desperation, I updated the firmware on the watch. In hindsight, I believe this eliminated any possibility of retrieving the data from the watch. As such, all I have from my watch for the first two days is the summary data and the start time.

Fortunately, my watch was not my only record. I have InReach data for this entire time, and I have Strava data from John and Will for the sections that they paced. Neither Brianna nor Mike recorded tracks, so I don’t have watch data from the segments they paced. The InReach data generally doesn’t show exactly when I reached the summits, but I have screenshots of the messages my pacers sent to communicate my summit times to the rest of the crew.

To simplify the verification of my results, I linked each of the actual times recorded in the spreadsheet to the most detailed verification data that is available for that milestone. The actual times are recorded in the far-right column on the Route tab.


I did a quick shoe change on the short drive to the Greely Ponds Trailhead. When the van stopped, Brianna and I got out and headed off. The first transition had been fast and smooth.

I had a hard time keeping my heart rate down on the steep climb up East Osceola. Again, I wasn’t feeling the effort, but my heart rate would hit 140 if I didn’t watch it carefully.

Just after summiting East Osceola, we got word that Will’s friend, Xander, had completed the Hundred Mile Wilderness in just over 24 hours, setting a new FKT. I knew how hard Xander had worked on that project, and I was very excited to get this news. I started moving faster, and Brianna had to remind me to stay on pace.

We made good time going over Osceola, and we finished the segment 25 minutes ahead of my goal pace. The radio worked at this transition, and Brianna was able to give the support crew a heads-up that we were getting close and relay special wishes I had for the transition. We used the radios with good success throughout the remainder of the challenge. They helped the transitions to go smoothly and probably saved a few minutes overall.

John met us at the Osceola Trailhead and rode with me in the van over to Waterville Valley Ski Area. On the drive, John did a lactate test on me. It was a bit comical. With the van bouncing around, it took me multiple attempts to get a good drop of blood on the test strip, and we ended up with some blood on the futon’s comforter. John made me guess the number. I guessed 1.8. It was 3.8. I had been working too hard.


When we started out on the Mt. Techumseh Trail, John reminded me that Mt. Techumseh was the first 4000 Footer that he and I had climbed. Our dad had taken us and our brother Jeff to climb it when I was about 10 years old. John posted a picture of us on that hike on Strava.

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My brothers Jeff, John, and me on Mt. Techumseh, early 1970s

Shortly after starting the climb, John told me that I wasn’t moving as well as I had on the practice hike that we had done in the Pemi Wilderness a few weeks earlier. He was concerned. I didn’t look good. And if I didn’t look good this early on, how was I going to keep this up for three more days?

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John and me at the summit of Mt. Techumseh ~ 50 years after our first ascent

One thing I noticed on the climb up Techumseh was I now felt the effort when my heart rate was hitting 135. I suspected that my glycogen levels were getting low despite my efforts to reign in my pace early on.

Despite the issues I was having, we hit the split on the climb. I started moving better on the descent, and we made up some time. (We descended via the trail, not the ski trail.) We made it back to the trailhead about 45 minutes ahead of my goal pace.

Tripyramids, Whiteface, and Passaconaway

Next, we took a short ride in the van over to the Livermore Trailhead. My spreadsheet predicted that it would take 30 minutes longer to ascend North Tripyramid via the Livermore and North Slide Trails than via the Pine Bend Brook Trail, but starting at the Livermore Trail saved a very long drive out of Waterville Valley.

We jogged most of the Livermore Trail and then clawed our way up the North Slide. My ascending speed up the slide was only about 35 feet per minute, but we beat the split up North Tripyramid by about 20 minutes.

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The view from the North Slide

From there, we beat the splits all the way to Passaconnaway and then hit the split exactly on the descent to the Olivarian Brook Trailhead. We arrived there at 8:16, 96 minutes ahead of my goal pace.

John had been telling me that we were doing well, but he didn’t give me specifics. I knew that I had built up a modest buffer because we arrived at Olivarian Brook before dark, but I didn’t know what the buffer was exactly. It felt good to know that I was a bit ahead of pace, but I knew it didn’t mean much this early on. The first real test was coming up. I hadn’t included a factor for darkness in my model, and I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain my goal pace during the night.


While John and I were making our way over the Tripyramids, Whiteface, and Passaconaway, Angela had handed the van crew responsibilities off to Danielle and returned to the Airbnb. Angela would spend the next two days supporting the pacers, coordinating pacer transportation, relaying messages between the pacers and the van crew, and keeping the spreadsheet up to date, all while also doing her real, software-development job remotely.

Danielle was waiting with Melanie when we arrived at Olivarian Brook Trailhead. Danielle is normally a very fun-loving person, but she was all business. She would be our van crew captain for the remainder of the attempt, and she took the responsibility very seriously. She compiled her own master checklist for each transition that consolidated the information from the other checklists and added in any new special requests. She made sure to get all my gear from my pacers when we arrived at the van. She took care of me during the van rides, doing everything from changing my socks to getting me the clothes and food and drinks I wanted. And when the van stopped at the next trailhead, she ran through her checklist and made sure my pacers and I had everything we needed before we headed out. All the transitions went very smoothly thanks to her efforts.

When John and I arrived at Olivarian Brook Trailhead, John did another lactate test on me. We then took the meter into the van with us and drove off while it was calculating the result. Brianna and Danielle rode in the van with me, with Melanie driving. John and Mike rode in the pacer vehicle so John could debrief Mike, who would be pacing me on the next section. We stopped when we got to Bartlett, and Mike got into the van. John asked what my lactate test showed. It was 2.5. Better!

We drove the rest of the way to the Signal Ridge Trailhead, and Mike and I started up the trail at 8:52. Carrigain would be my first real test. I hadn’t included a factor for darkness in my model, and I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain my goal pace during the night.

Mike and I ran the flat sections on the bottom section of the trail and then hiked the steeper sections after crossing Carrigain Brook. The ascent went smoothly, and we beat the split to the summit by 15 minutes. We climbed the platform and then turned around and headed back the way we had come.

On the descent, I had some flashbacks remembering when Brianna and I descended that trail in 2014 on the second night of our attempt. We hadn’t slept and the darkness and fatigue combined to make us very slow over the rocky trail. Brianna had some hallucinations, and we thought we were going in circles at the end.

I did much better this time, but the darkness and fatigue had an effect. The descent took us 20 minutes longer than projected. Overall, we had only given up 5 minutes on the out-and-back, but I probably should have had a darkness factor in my model for technical descents done during the night.

Tom, Field, and Willey

Danielle took over for Angela as navigator/support, and Brianna joined Mike and me for the Tom-Field-Willey section. I had done a test hike of this section a couple weeks before the start and determined that it was faster to do it north-to-south despite there being more driving time.

We hit the split on the ascent of Tom, and we came very close to the split on the traverse over to Field. We gave up a few minutes on the technical traverse over to Willey, and we gave up about 12 minutes on the very steep, technical descent from Willey to Willey House Station Rd. So far, it was looking like I should have had a 25% penalty in my model for technical descents done in the dark.

In hindsight, I should have done my Tom-Field-Willey test hike at night. I’m not sure it would have led me to do this section differently, but darkness was clearly a factor I should have accounted for.

Another thing I hadn’t accounted for were bathroom breaks. I needed one at Willey House Station Road. Due to this and general slowness, we took about 12 minutes longer than planned to get to the start of the Presidentials section.

Jackson, Pierce, and Eisenhower

John was my pacer for the Southern Presidentials. He hadn’t had much of a break, and he hadn’t slept. We started out on the Webster-Jackson Trail at 4:27. I had given up 30 minutes of my buffer during the night and was now only an hour ahead of my goal pace. The Presidentials were my next big test: Would I be able to maintain my goal pace on Day 2?

I was a little slow getting started, but we made decent time on the Jackson ascent. We didn’t quite hit the split, but we were close. We arrived at the summit just as the sun was coming up. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The view of the southern Presidentials was stunning.

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We hit the splits on Pierce and Eisenhower and arrived at the summit of Eisenhower at 7:02. This was the end of “Day 1.” The stats for the day were 65.7 miles, 21,700 ft. of elevation gain, and 156.5 Equivalent Track Miles. I was 58 minutes ahead of my goal pace, and I was hitting my splits.

Day 2: Wednesday, June 21st

Monroe, Isolation, and Washington

We summited Monroe at 7:50 and then stopped for about 8 minutes at Lake of the Clouds Hut to fill our flasks for the long out-and-back to Mt. Isolation.

Mt. Isolation is the Bermuda Triangle of the Whites. Bad things happen out there. On a training hike in 2014, Brianna ran into a log that was protruding out into the trail but was hidden by the thick vegetation. She also bonked hard on this section during her 2014 FKT hike.

I warned John about the danger of protruding sticks. He thought I was nuts until a few minutes later when I hit my head on a sharp broken branch that was protruding down from a small tree that had fallen across the trail just above my line of sight. Fortunately, my hat had some good cushion on the front of it, and I didn’t open up a wound.

Another hazard on the trail to Isolation is a series of deep mudholes. You can easily lose a shoe in these under good conditions, and with all the rain we’d had, the mud was a soupy mess. We managed to clear these without incident on the way out, and we arrived at the summit at 9:45. We had hit the split despite the obstacles and the stop at Lakes.

The climb from Isolation to Washington has always been a bit demoralizing for me. It’s tough to start at 4,000 feet and then have to climb more than 2,200 feet. On top of that, you are still in Isolation’s Bermuda Triangle. John got nailed by it this time. While navigating one of the mudholes, he stepped on what he thought was solid ground or a rock, but it turned out to be nothing but soupy mud. His foot sank deep into the muck, and he crashed forward and banged his knee hard into a rock.

The initial assessment of the damage showed that the fall had opened up a deep cut that sent a rivulet of blood running down John’s leg, This, however, would turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg. John never once complained or showed any sign of an issue during the remaining 60+ miles that he paced me over the incredibly rough terrain, but he had seriously injured his knee. He had a very difficult time running for weeks after the attempt, and when he eventually had an MRI done, he learned that he had fractured the bottom of his femur. I have no idea how he managed to complete all his pacing sections with that injury.

As we approached the summit of Washington, I remembered that the transition on Washington was supposed to occur at around 1 PM. It was about noon, so I knew we were on a bit ahead of my goal pace. As John and I hiked up the stairs from the parking lot to the summit, Will was at the top waiting for us. He looked concerned. The jury was still out on whether I would be able to maintain my goal pace on Day 2. No one said anything, but I knew I needed to pick up the pace. I didn’t need to worry about it, however. Will had a plan.

Jefferson, Adams, and Madison

Boomer had driven Will to the summit, and they had food and treats laid out on a picnic table. I had scheduled 12 minutes for this transition, figuring I would change shoes and clothes. I didn’t need any gear changes, however, and I could tell Will was anxious to get going. John stayed behind to resupply his pack for the northern Presis, and Will and I headed out. I tagged the summit sign. When I turned around, Will opened up his massively long stride and in a couple of steps he was past the Tip Top House, flying down the mountain over the big rocks. My jaw almost fell off, but I kicked my butt into gear and fell in behind him.

We flew down the mountain. There was a time when I could run easily over the rocks like we did, but age has started to take a toll on my reaction time and balance. I managed to keep up, but it didn’t look pretty. Still, I was amazed that I could go that fast on Day 2 of the challenge.

As we neared the junction with the Westside Trail, I began to think of my brother John’s Rule #1: “Preserve the vessel.” I was afraid I would take a bad fall if I kept this up, so I asked Will to dial it back a bit. He slowed it down and somehow intuitively hit a pace that was a perfect compromise between speed and safety for me.

Will knows that climbing is not my strength. He figured out that it was going to be hard for me to make up time on the climbs and that it would be easier for me to make up time on the descents. Accordingly, he dialed it back on the climbs and picked up the pace on the descents.

John caught up to us at the summit of Jefferson. Between the shortened break on Mt. Washington and the pace increase, we had gained back 23 minutes of buffer on this 1-hour leg.

John and Will exchanged some gear as I headed off toward Adams. They arranged that John would follow behind, skip Madison, and meet us on the descent down Valley Way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but John was nursing his banged-up knee.

Will and I continued at a strong but manageable pace. Our ETD paces to Adams, Madison, and the Appalachia Trailhead were, respectively, 7:04, 7:15, and 6:54. We arrived at the Appalachia/Valley Way Trailhead at 15:45, 1 hour and 55 minutes ahead of my goal pace. I was very tired, but Will had helped me gain over an hour of buffer on one of the most technical sections of the entire route.

Wildcats, Carters, and Moriah

Katrina had arrived on Wednesday morning, and she and Danielle were waiting with Melanie at Appalachia. Danielle and Katrina took great care of me throughout the attempt. They changed my socks and shoes during transitions and made sure I had whatever clothes and food I wanted.

On the ride from Appalachia to Wildcat Ski Area, I picked up another hour of headroom by not sleeping. I had scheduled an extra hour for sleep on this drive because I worried that the wheels would come off on the long hike to Gorham after the sun went down. It was the middle of the afternoon, however, and I couldn’t sleep. I would have to risk it.

We got to the access road at Wildcat just before the gate was closed, and Brianna, Mike, and I started up the service road at 4:16 PM. It was hot on the climb. Despite the heat and my fatigue from the northern Presidentials, we hit the split and climbed the observation deck on the summit of Wildcat D at 17:18.

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Wildcat D

Brianna and Mike continued to set a good pace. I had to work hard to keep up. We hit the split on Wildcat and then descended into Carter Notch.

In the plan, I had penciled in a resupply at Carter Notch, but we had decided ahead of time that this was unnecessary. Instead, Mike and Brianna went ahead to refill flasks at Carter Notch Hut, and I kept hiking.

On the ascent up Carter Dome, I started having the heavy breathing that comes with metabolic acidosis. The heat and fast pace had taken a toll, but I continued to press the pace. I made a game out of seeing how long I could stay ahead of Mike and Brianna. I hoped to reach the summit before they caught up to me, but they caught me a little before the summit.

Brianna and Mike would tell me from time to time that I was doing well, but I didn’t ask for details. I sensed, however, that I needed to press hard to maintain my goal pace.

South and Middle Carter were easier, with less ascending, and we hit the splits on these peaks. The sun went down on the steep descent down North Carter.

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When darkness settled in, I started to get very clumsy and slow. The sleep deprivation was starting to catch up with me. I took about 250 mg of caffeine via gels and a caffeine pill. This helped quite a bit. I still had brain fog, but I was able to move reasonably well. I gave up about 16 minutes on the hike over to Moriah, however.

The Carter-Moriah Trail is pretty smooth, and we were able to maintain a good pace despite the darkness. We picked up a little time on the descent and arrived at the Carter-Moriah Trailhead at 11:36. I had taken about 7 minutes longer to do the section than planned, but this was very good considering that we did a good percentage of it in the dark and that I hadn’t slept. It was a big relief to make it back to the van without having had any major cognitive issues.


I had scheduled 2 hours for the transition from the Carter-Moriah Trailhead to the Bunnell Notch Trailhead so I could sleep. I tried to set myself up for sleeping by slowing down a bit as we approached the Carter-Moriah Trailhead. Mike radioed ahead that I wanted to keep the energy level down at the transition.

Despite everyone’s efforts, I was unable to fall asleep on the drive, and I was still awake when we arrived at the Berlin Fish Hatchery gate. I lay there for a bit after we arrived, but it became clear that I was not going to be able to sleep. I got up and got ready to go.

As those familiar with NH-48 FKT know, Alyssa had proposed a new rule after her FKT hike. The new rule is that the hours of the Fish Hatchery gate be respected on future record attempts. The gate is two miles before the Bunnell Notch Trailhead, and it is scheduled to be closed between 4 PM and 8 AM. Alyssa wrote on the FKT website that it is okay to pass through the gate after hours if the gate is open, but it is not okay to request that the gate be left open. We arrived at the gate just after midnight, and the gate was closed. This was expected.

My plan, which I had cleared with Alyssa beforehand, was to have my support crew drop a car behind the gate before the gate closed, and then have my pacer fetch the car and be waiting at the gate when I arrived. There are no restrictions on parking a car overnight on the Fish Hatchery property, and there are no restrictions on entering the property after hours. In other words, no special permission is required to traverse the gate after hours in this way. I described this plan in an email to Alyssa a couple months before my attempt and asked her if she was okay with it. She said she was.

Earlier in the day, Will and Boomer had dropped a car in a parking area about 200 yards beyond the gate. Then, before I arrived, Will ran down, retrieved the car and waited for me at the gate. The gate was unlocked, but we didn’t open it.

While Will was waiting for us to arrive, he had a rather bizarre and disconcerting experience. An old Ford pickup truck drove up to the gate, and a somewhat disheveled man got out and approached Will’s vehicle, walking in the truck’s headlights. The man came up to Will’s window. It was the middle of the night on a dead-end road. Will was wondering if he was about the be robbed or worse. The man was nice, however, and he asked Will if he was there for the “Rainbow Gathering.” Will had no idea what the Rainbow Gathering was, and he told the man no. The man then opened the unlocked gate and drove through it looking for the Rainbow Gathering.

We arrived at the gate a short while later. While we were getting ready to leave, Will told Melanie, Katrina, and Danielle about his encounter and the Rainbow Gathering. Katina and Danielle thought he had been hallucinating.

Will and I got walked around the gate, got into the shuttle car, and started driving. A minute or two later, the Ford pickup went by us going back toward the gate. We would later learn that the man stopped and asked Melanie, Katrina, and Danielle the same question he had asked Will. At least they now knew that Will hadn’t been hallucinating.

A little while later, the Rainbow Gathering found its way into the Perpetuem and Maurten mixing task…

  • We would later learn that the “Rainbow Family Gathering” is an unauthorized gathering of people that has been occurring annually in different national forests since 1972. This year’s gathering was in the Kilkenny Area on the Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest and was estimated to have an attendance of about 2200. One report said that dozens of people were facing violations from this year’s gathering.

Will drove me to the Bunnell Notch Trailhead, and we started hiking at 12:35. By not sleeping, I had added another hour of buffer. I was still unaware how I was doing, but I was now almost 4 hours ahead of my goal pace. I was a little slow on the climb to the Mt. Cabot summit, but the rest in the van had cured my metabolic acidosis. I was no longer breathing hard. We made up some time on the descent, and overall, we hit the split for the segment.


After dropping me off at the gate, Will returned the shuttle car to its parking spot and ran back to his car on the public side of the gate. He then drove himself to the Starr King Trailhead.

On the drive to Starr King Trailhead, I fell asleep for the first time since the start. It was about an hour drive, and I slept for about 30 minutes. I woke up when we arrived at the trailhead. I took some time to get ready. Then, Will and I headed out at 5:08. I had taken about 20 minutes more on the transition than planned.

The sun was coming up and I felt better. Will helped me beat the splits on both the ascent and the descent of Waumbek.

We started the third day of my effort on the descent. Counting the full descent, the stats for Day 2 were: 58.4 miles, 17,500 ft. of elevation gain, and 154.0 Equivalent Track Miles (ETMs). I had covered 156.4 ETMs on Day 1, so I was maintaining an even pace despite the longer drives on Day 2.

Day 3: Thursday, June 22nd

After Waumbek, Will drove himself back to the Airbnb to try to get some rest, and I rode in the van to the northbound Basin parking lot. The drive was 45 minutes, and I slept for the second time, again for about 30 minutes. I woke up when we arrived, and again took some time to get ready. I took 15 minutes longer on the transition than planned, and we started out at 8:37.

John was back as my pacer for this section. This was undoubtedly the most difficult pacing assignment of the challenge. We would climb Flume Slide, traverse Franconia Ridge, bushwhack down the Lincoln Slide, bushwhack to the summit of Owl’s Head, bushwhack down the north side of Owl’s Head, ascend Garfield, and then traverse over to Galehead Hut. Mike would resupply us on Lafayette, but John would pace me by himself.

Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, and Lafayette

The first part of this leg was, however, the easiest trail of the challenge. It was a gradually descending paved path. Despite this, I had to walk most of it. As I had feared, I had stiffened up in the van, and it took me a while to loosen up my Achilles tendon. I gave up a lot of time on the easy traverse over to the start of Flume Slide. When we got to the slide, I was able to climb reasonably well, and I managed to average at a little over 40 ft. per minute up the slide.

Bill running along Franconia Ridge.

We made up time by running much of Franconia Ridge and were back on track when we reached Lafayette.

Bill and John ascending Mt. Lafayette

Approaching the summit of Lafayette

Owl’s Head

While Mike resupplied John at the summit of Lafayette, I made my way back to the top of the north branch of the Lincoln Slide. John caught back up to me as I was getting ready to start the bushwhack. We looped around the ledge near the top and found a cairn marking a good way through the dense bushes onto the slide. We then zigzagged our way down the slide.

The going got more difficult when we reached the stream. The gravel and rocks gave way easily, and we had to be careful how we moved. We hiked along the stream until it started to get tight, and then we cut into the woods on the north side of the stream.

We had done this section in reverse a few weeks before, and we knew the woods were very thick near the top of the stream. We slowly made our way through the dense undergrowth. Eventually, things opened up a bit. John led the way with me second guessing his every move. He patiently kept us moving in the right direction, and we eventually popped out onto the Lincoln Brook Trail, almost exactly where we wanted to.

From there, we crossed the trail and bushwhacked straight for the summit of Owl’s Head. Again, I questioned John’s every move, but he led us right to the summit. We arrived there 2 hours and 12 minutes after leaving Lafayette.

I would not realize this until later, but I had made a mistake in my spreadsheet. My spreadsheet underestimated the time for this segment by 28 minutes. My test hikes showed the Lincoln Slide descent and the ascent up Owl’s Head via the trail taking exactly the time it took us to do our route. The only difference was we bushwhacked up Owl’s Head instead of taking the trail. When we reached the summit of Owl’s Head, John thought we had taken much longer than we should have to get there.


We got some cell service on Owl’s Head, and we learned that the InReach had been off since the Starr King Trailhead. We had turned it off to charge it on the drive from Starr King. We had turned it back on, but we had not turned tracking back on. I turned tracking on. This section (Basin to Owl’s Head) was the only section that was not covered by the InReach.

From the summit of Owl’s Head, John led us down the north side of the mountain. He had a red line of the route on Strava leading to the bend in the Lincoln Brook trail that is just south of where the trail crosses Franconia Branch. We needed to stay to the left of the line so we wouldn’t overshoot the bend in the trail and have to bushwhack further to the stream. There were a lot of blowdowns on the descent that forced us far to the left and right, but once again, John led us right to the target.

We refilled water in Franconia Branch and then hightailed it for Garfield. We made good time on the ascent to Garfield and on the traverse to Galehead, and we hit the splits for this section.

Overall, I was 30 minutes slower than my spreadsheet projected for the entire leg, but this difference was solely due to my mistaken estimate for the Lafayette to Owl’s Head segment. I was oblivious to this at the time, but I feel badly that John had to stress about our pace on these sections unnecessarily. He managed it all extremely well and never got short with me despite all my second guessing and the fact that he had to carry the full burden of supporting me on this very difficult section.

Galehead and the Twins

Brianna and Will were waiting for us at Galehead Hut with a cloud of gnats swarming around them. Brianna stayed with John at the hut and got a debrief while Will and I went and tagged the summit of Galehead. We returned to the hut about 20 minutes later.

I had planned a 12-minute break at the hut to allow for clothing and shoe changes, but I didn’t need to make any changes. I hadn’t had a break all day, however, so I sat down on the bench outside the hut for a few minutes. I could tell Will was itching to get going, however, so I only rested for a few minutes.

The ascent up South Twin went well, and I managed to climb at about 42 ft. per minute. The next peak on the spreadsheet was North Twin, so we ran past the summit of South Twin and made our way over the North Twin. Will noted that we had beat the split to North Twin despite the break I took.

We made our way back to South Twin, this time tagging the summit.

Will and Bill heading back to South Twin from North Twin.

On the way back to South Twin

Brianna and Bill on South Twin South Twin

One thing I have to say is I have always taken great pleasure in watching Brianna move through the mountains. She is so graceful and smooth. She dances with the rocks and boulders. It is beautiful to watch.

The Bonds, Zealand, and Hale

After South Twin, the next peak on the spreadsheet was Bondcliff. It was mentally challenging to hike past the spur trail to West Bond and past the summit of Bond without tagging them. When we reached the very technical descent from Bond to Bondcliff, I struggled to remain upright. My balance was shot, and my brain was not working very well. I ate some caffeinated gels. This helped a bit, but I was still very slow on the descent. We only missed the split by about 3 minutes, though.

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On the climb back up Bond, I noticed the heavy breathing and metabolic acidosis was back. Despite this, I managed to hit the split on the climb, and also on the out-and-back to West Bond.

From West Bond, we went back up over Guyot and then took the Twinway over to Zealand. I ate some more caffeinated gels and a caffeine pill.

I had forgotten about the big rocks on the trail to Zealand. The caffeine helped my coordination a bit, but it did nothing for my sense of time. It seemed to take forever to traverse the 1.2 miles to the summit of Zealand.

After Zealand, I zoned out and did my best to keep up with Will and Brianna. In other words, I usually lagged well behind them. My memory wasn’t working well. I forgot how long the descent to Whitewall Brook was, and I kept thinking we were almost to Hale long before we were. I didn’t let it get to me though. I just kept doing my best to keep up. We finally made it to Hale at 1:41.

Will shot a short video on the summit of Hale. It did a good job of capturing how I felt at the time.

On the descent down Hale, Will mentioned that my spreadsheet had predicted when we would arrive at each of the last 6 peaks within plus or minus 3 minutes. It made me feel good that the spreadsheet was working. Brianna made me feel even better by noting that I was making the spreadsheet accurate by hitting the splits. That, however, was due in large part to Will and Brianna’s expert pacing.

When we were getting close to Hale Brook Trailhead, Will and Brianna told me I had a decision to make. For the first time on the attempt, they told me how far ahead of record pace I was: more than 3 hours. They said I needed to decide how long I was going to sleep before starting the Cannon and Kinsman section. I had planned to sleep 2 hours here, including the 25 minutes of drive time. My brain wasn’t working very well, but 2 hours seemed excessive given that there was only about 8 hours of work remaining. I thought about only sleeping for an hour, but I decided I would allow 90 minutes for sleep from the time that we arrived at Hale Brook Trailhead.

We arrived at Hale Brook Trailhead at 2:25. Danielle helped me into the van, and Katrina tamped down Melanie’s enthusiasm to help set me up to sleep.

It had been 17 hours and 48 minutes since I had left the Basin parking lot. This was 18 minutes longer than the time projected by my spreadsheet, but if my estimate for the Owl’s Head section had been correct, I would have slightly beat the projected time. This was made possible by John, Brianna, and Will who carefully monitored and managed my progress, carried my gear and food, and made sure I kept eating. Thanks to them, I had been able to stay on pace throughout this very long section on the third day of the challenge, despite only getting about one hour of sleep since the start.

Cannon and North Kinsman

I slept for the third time on the drive from Hale Brook Trailhead to the Cannon Mountain Trailhead. I was awake when we arrived at the Cannon Tram station. I dozed off again, but I kept waking up wanting to get started. Danielle talked me into resting for the full 90 minutes. Later Katrina said they let me believe I had slept longer than I had. She estimated that I only slept a total of about 90 minutes during the attempt.

Danielle got me up after the 90-minute break, and I got ready to go. I was very stiff when I got out of the van. The air was damp, and I asked if it was raining. Katrina looked up and said, no, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Clearly, I had some cognitive impairment.

We got started at 4:04. My right knee was hurting. I had been worried that this would be a problem throughout the challenge, so I was grateful it didn’t start to hurt until then. John offered to let me use his poles. (I had broken mine on the Lincoln Slide descent.) The poles helped a lot, but I was still a little slow. I took 14 minutes longer than projected to reach the summit of Cannon.

John gave me a great treat on the way up Cannon: a flask of Gu Roctane. After days of drinking only Perpetuem and Maurten, the Roctane tasted amazingly good. I clearly should have added a few more drink options into my rotation.

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Cannon Mountain

After Cannon, I continued to move slowly on the descent down to Coppermine Col and over the dreaded Cannonballs. Mike led the way and pointed out every slippery spot and tripping hazard. This was much appreciated because I had PTSD from when Brianna and I had done this section in the middle of a raging storm in 2014. This day, however, was another bluebird day.

We had certainly won the weather lottery for my attempt. Not a drop of rain had fallen on me, and it was much cooler than originally forecast. The four days of my attempt were the only four consecutive days of good weather for weeks on either side of my attempt. The outcome of my attempt would have been very different if we had started a week earlier and had to hike through day after day of rain, as Steve Rosenman did on his attempt.

As we were nearing the end of the Cannon Balls, John started to worry about our pace. For a while, he thought we weren’t going to reach North Kinsman until about 8:00. If that had been the case, and if we had continued on that pace, we might have had a problem. Fortunately, our pace wasn’t that bad. We were slow getting to North Kinsman, but not that slow.

Mike stopped off at Kinsman Pond to resupply water. John and I continued and arrived at the summit of North Kinsman at 7:25. We were now officially into Day 4. Including the section to North Kinsman, the stats for Day 3 were 48.5 miles, 18,500 ft., and 133.0 Equivalent Track Miles. This was down from 154.0 ETMs on Day 2 and 156.4 on Day 1.

Day 4: Friday, June 23rd

After North Kinsman, John and I continued to the summit of South Kinsman and arrived there at 7:46. From there, we turned around and made our way back to the Mt. Kinsman Trail junction where we met Mike. John had been going a long way without water, and he was finally able to hydrate.

The Mt. Kinsman Trail is one of the easier trails in the Whites, and it gets easier the closer you get to the trailhead. We made very good time on this trail, and we made up some of what we had lost on Cannon and the Cannonballs. We arrived at the trailhead at 9:11.

From the Mt. Kinsman Trailhead, we drove over to the Beaver Brook Trailhead where we met Brianna and Mike for the last leg of the attempt. I forgot to start my watch until after we were underway, but Will started his watch when we left the trailhead at 9:32.

Will let me borrow his poles. They helped a lot on the steep, initial climb.

Andrew Drummond was waiting for us above tree line. He took some fantastic photos around the summit.

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Angela and Boomer met us at the summit and descended with us.

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We didn’t know it at the time, but Danielle had arranged a cheering section for me on the way down. She had told everyone leaving the trailhead that I would be coming down, and every group of hikers we passed knew my name and cheered me on as if they knew me. One woman really went the extra mile and cheered like my wife, Melanie, cheers.

Danielle knew there was a risk that the cheering would distract me and cause me to fall. This did happen, but I didn’t get hurt. I was very grateful for the encouragement. It made the descent very fun and special.

I finished on the lodge side of the bridge over Gorge Brook.

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I didn’t stop my watch right when I finished, but my watch data shows me reaching the finish 2:10:15 after I started recording at 9:58. The watch doesn’t provide the seconds when recording was started, so it does not provide the exact second of the finish. Assuming my watch and/or Strava rounds the start time to the nearest minute, my watch data would put my finish sometime between 12:07:45 and 12:08:45.

Will finished right after me and stopped his watch at the finish. His watch data shows an elapsed time of 2:36:23 with recording starting at 9:32. Again, assuming his watch and/or Strava rounded the start time to the nearest minute, his finish time was sometime between 12:07:53 and 12:08:53.

My InReach only recorded track points every 10 minutes, but fortuitously, it recorded a track point on the lodge side of the bridge at 12:08:30. This shows that I was on the lodge side of the bridge at 12:08:30. While it is possible, given the InReach’s recording interval, that I finished before this, this data shows that I finished by 12:08:30. This time is consistent with Will’s and my watch data, so I am using 12:08:30 as my “official” finish time.

In summary, the start time, finish time, and duration of my record attempt are as follows:

  • Start Time: 7:05:00 on 6/20
  • Finish Time: 12:08:30 on 6/23
  • Duration: 3 days, 5 hours, 3 minutes, and 30 seconds.

I finished 2 hours and 57 minutes ahead of my goal time of 80 hours. 1 hour and 25 minutes of this improvement came from moving faster on trail than my goal pace. The remainder came from sleeping less than I had planned.

Sadly, I failed to follow my friend John Tuttle’s Rule #6: “Never run slower.” My trail time on the first half of the route was 34 hours and 16 minutes, and my trail time on the second half of the route was 35 hours and 26 minutes, a positive split of 1 hour and 10 minutes.


As some know, the seeds of this adventure were planted in December, 2013 when Brianna and I were doing some Christmas shopping in a local sporting goods store. While I was browsing the store, a New Hampshire 4000 Footers map caught my eye, and I picked it up. Then, while waiting in the checkout line, I asked Brianna, “I wonder how fast this can be done?”

During the past nine and a half years, I have spent a very large amount of time and money trying to answer this question. I now have an answer to this question, but if all I got out of the effort was this answer, it would have been a frivolous and silly endeavor.

It was not, however, a frivolous and silly endeavor. It was, no doubt, a great indulgence. I spent countless hours working alone on my fitness and on various problems related to the project. I did this because it was fun for me, and because I enjoyed it. In the process, I became more healthy and fit, and I got to spend a lot of time in the mountains I love. But way more important than any of this, the project caused me to spend a lot of quality time with people I love. It fostered a love of the mountains in my family and led to many unforgettable outdoor adventures and challenges that strengthened my relationships with my children, my family members, and my friends.

This hike/run was a wonderful and beautiful finale to this project. It brought together most of the people who supported me over the years for a final, massive effort. Everyone performed flawlessly. I will be forever grateful and indebted to everyone who supported me in this attempt and in my prior attempts and training. I am most grateful for my wife, Melanie, and her boundless love, support, and encouragement.

A group of people posing for a photo

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Back row: Xander Keiter, Luciana Moretti, Melanie Tidd, Jim Tidd, Bill Tidd, Elizabeth Tidd, Brianna Tidd, Mike Brown, Katrina Tidd, Will Peterson; Front row: John Tidd, Danielle Tidd, Angela Tidd, Blake Flowers

It meant a lot to me that my parents were able to make it to the finish. They are a big part of this story. From that first 4000 Footer hike of Mt. Techumseh that my dad took my brothers and me on, to encouraging and supporting me on my Appalachian Trail hike when I was 18 years old, to sleep-deprived days and nights of following dots on a web page, they have supported me through it all. Being a parent hasn’t gotten any easier for them. At 60 years old, they still have to worry about me like they did when I was a teenager, failing to make it home on time.  

I am also very grateful to the people who went before me on the supported New Hampshire 4000 Footers challenge: Ted “Cave Dog” Kaizer, Tim Seaver, Cath Goodwin, Sue Johnston, Andrew Thompson, Brianna Tidd, Stefanie Bishop, Will Peterson, and Alyssa Godesky. I learned a great deal from each of them, and I would not have been able to do what I did without their prior efforts. I am especially grateful to Brianna and Will for their support, and to Alyssa for her encouragement and the time she spent helping me plan my route. I would also like to thank Steve Rosenman for inviting me to join him on his heroic attempt at the FKT in bad weather the week prior. His tips on transitions were invaluable.

In addition to those who tackled the supported challenge, I am very grateful those who have done the Direttissima: Ariel and Anna Feindel, Andrew Drummond, Arlette Laan, Will Peterson, and Layla Harrod. An unsupported Direttissima hike is much more physically and mentally challenging than a supported hike, and some of the most valuable lessons I learned came from these unsupported efforts and my own.

And finally, I am very grateful to my brother John for all that he has taught me and for his awesome ski lift quad conditioning workout. I never had any quad soreness during or after my attempt, despite descending more than 60,000 feet over steep, technical trails and chasing Will over the northern Presidentials.

Thanks to all the people listed above, my name is now listed on the FKT site. But this is not my FKT.  The FKT belongs to the large group of exceptional athletes and people who supported me in my pursuit of this goal, both during this latest attempt, and in the many years that led up to it.