is no stranger to epic ideas and big accomplishments. This summer, she set her sights on the Fastest Known Time (FKT)
of the Colorado Trail‚Äîa 490 mile trail across the Rockies that features 90,000 feet of elevation gain. The previous record was 8 days and 30 minutes, set by Bryan Williams. We caught up with Courtney to hear about her high country run across Colorado.
Fill us in a little‚Äîwhat exactly was the run on the Colorado Trail, what led to the idea?
The Colorado Trail is a 486 mile singletrack trail from Durango to Denver. It travels through six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges, gaining 90,000ft of elevation. I have been eyeing the Colorado Trail for a few years now because it seemed like a really cool way to explore Colorado.¬† I was intrigued by the distance and how efficiently it could be done. With all the race cancellations this summer, it provided a perfect window of time to give it a try and see what was possible!
How do you prepare for such a grueling and complex endeavor?
Physically, I wasn't doing anything differently than my normal training. Lots of miles, lots of climbing and consistent bodyweight exercises are the main ingredients of how I train and I kept this the same.
Mentally, I tried to keep the big picture in mind: we had almost 500 miles to cover. Patience was important. Not sweating it when things went wrong was important. Staying in the moment and not getting overwhelmed was important.
Logistically, this was a huge undertaking! I wanted to do this FKT attempt "supported" which meant I could have crew meet me at spots for aid stations, and pacers run with me on sections. This was important to me because sharing the adventure is one of the best parts of these long efforts. Gathering a group of friends and family to take on this challenge with me was a key step in the logistics. After that, my husband was the mastermind behind all the logistics. I feel very lucky to have people in my life who are willing to throw themselves into a weeklong project like this just to help me try to run a trail. Those memories we made out there are really special. The bonds created with that group of people will remain forever.
What about the simple stuff‚Äîfood and sleep?
While on trail, I was relying primarily on Honey Stinger waffles and chews, and Tailwind. I also had a Salomon filter bottle along so I could always refill at streams - it got hot out there! When I got to aid stations, my crew would have some sort of real food option available: gnocchi, pancakes, perogies, ramen, quesadillas, and leftover pizza. As for sleep, I tried to do as little of it as possible. When I slept in the RV, I would reset with a nap anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours in length. When I slept on the trail, I would use it to get enough of a quick boost of anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. In total, I think we estimated I slept less than 4 hours during my entire 309 mile run.