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Jeff Garmire’s New FKT on the John Muir Trail Came Down to a Desperate Final Sprint

Three days: That's how long it took endurance athlete Jeff Garmire to finish the John Muir Trail. But from health scares to falling asleep while hiking, it was anything but a casual stroll.

Editor’s Note: On August 29, Jeff Garmire set a new unsupported fastest known time for the John Muir Trail, beating Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy’s three-week-old record by a mere 12 minutes and 38 seconds. We asked him to tell his story in his own words.

I had a permit to attempt the John Muir Trail record twice this summer but canceled. The idea of going for the FKT scared me: I scouted it for a record attempt in 2019 but spent the next three years too nervous to go for it. Then, in early August, Joe McConaughy lowered the JMT unsupported record time by three hours. It turned out to be the final push I needed.

The drive to Yosemite was freeing, void of the usual pre-FKT anxiety. I was proud to go after a goal that scared me. It wasn’t my first time: From the Colorado Trail to the Arizona Trail, I had managed to topple FKTs by making a plan and sticking to it. But the the John Muir Trail was different: It was shorter, faster, and one of the most competitive records in the world. There was real doubt, and I spent days mentally finding the right headspace.

At 7:33 a.m., I charged away from the terminus. The clock would not stop until I arrived at the Whitney Portal Trailhead, 223 miles away, or quit. Consistency was the core of my strategy. I planned to cover the same distance every 24 hours and consume the same calories. My target was 72 hours, enough to beat the standing FKT by just more than an hour and a half. It worked out to a three-mile-per-hour average, including breaks and sleep.

Continue reading about Jeff's expierence settingthe new FKT on the John Muir Trail here.

LAST UPDATED

December 3, 2023

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Jeff 'Legend' Garmire

Sawyer Ambassador

Jeff grew up backpacking with his family in the Pacific Northwest. It was far from ultralight backpacking, but loading up 50 pounds each and hiking 3 miles to a lake to fish and camp for the weekend. At 2 years old Jeff got giardia on one of these trips, and on another he had so many mosquito bites the daycare thought he had chickenpox.

Backpacking went right along with fishing, building log rafts, and catching crawdads. The first thru-hike was when Jeff was 20 on the PCT, and since he has gone on to set 16 trail speed records and hiker over 30k miles.

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