Friday, May 20, 2011

End-to-end guidelines

There has been lots of discussion about how you should establish a claim for a fastest time on an end-to-end run. A site dedicated to just that called 'Fastest Known Times' uses the following guidelines:

How do you establish a speed record?
Buzz Burrell has proposed 3 common sense guidelines:

  • Announce your intentions in advance. Like a true gentleman, pay your respects to those who came before you, and tell them what you intend to attempt and when.
  • Be an open book. Invite anyone to come and watch or, better yet, participate. This makes your effort more fun and any result more believable.
  • Record your event. Write down everything immediately upon completion. Memory doesn't count.

These three rules do not "prove" you have done anything. They just make it easier for a good person to believe you.

Supported, self-supported, unsupported? What does it mean?

  • Supported means you have a dedicated support team that meets you along the way to supply whatever you need. This generally allows for the fastest, lightest trips, and for an element of camaraderie and safety, since someone knows about where you are at all times.
  • Self-supported means that you don't carry everything you need from the start, but you don't have dedicated, pre-arranged people helping you. This is commonly done a couple different ways: You might put out stashes of supplies for yourself prior to the trip, or you might just use what's out there, such as stores, begging from other trail users, etc.
  • Unsupported means you have no external support of any kind. Typically, this means that you must carry all your supplies right from the start, except any water that can be obtained along the way from natural sources. This approach has also been termed "alpine style". The longest trip I'm aware of using this style is Coup's 20-day thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. For most people, carrying enough food for more than a few days to one week will be prohibitive. Unsupported also means unaccompanied!

Thoughts on Verification:
You put in a huge effort and trashed your body for the next 6 months. You want people to believe what you say you did, right?

  • Follow Buzz's guidelines above.
  • If other people are involved in your trip, make sure they are involved in the telling the story as well.
  • Photos & video really help.
  • Independent verifiers are key. Consider passing out cards to people you meet along the way with information about your trip & asking the person to email you to confirm when and where they saw you.
  • For shorter trips where it is practical, GPS tracks (.gpx files) are great.
  • SPOT Tracker just might be the ultimate verification tool, and it provides a measure of safety as well. Also, it's a lot of fun for your friends to be able to watch your progress online in real time. They cost about $100 plus $100/year for the service. The current version of the Tracker weighs about 7oz, but apparently a new, improved Tracker weighing around 5oz will be available in November 2009.

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