Prior to the Collegiate Trail Loop (CTL) FKT, I’d hesitated to set any future FKT attempts in stone. I didn’t know how the CTL attempt would go – could I really could do this FKT thing? – and I didn’t want to keep writing checks if my body couldn’t cash them. I also knew that post-event depression would be real, so planning the next big thing would be the best way for me to channel some of my restless energy. Despite my fears, even during the attempt, I knew that I wanted to attempt to set another speed record, so my focus was on finding the right trail in the right place. My next academic break came in December, so I needed to find a trail located in temperate climate. I also didn’t want to go much further in distance than the CTL (161 miles), and I wanted the established record to seem beatable but pose a significant challenge. I don’t have the time over break to travel overseas, recover from jet lag, and then attempt a speed record, so I wanted it to be located in the Americas.
With those conditions in mind, it was less than a week after I finished the Collegiate Trail Loop FKT that I texted Kris, “I think I know what I want my next FKT to be – El Camino de Costa Rica. And with that decided, I’m going to bed.”
The decision wasn’t as simple as my text. Initally, I’d considered running the Pinhoti Trail in December, but, at over 300 miles, I decided it was too long, so I’ll attempt the Pinhoti FKT in March 2020. I kept searching, and even though I’d banned overseas travel, I started checking out the Camino de Santiago. Winter seemed like a tough time on that trail, but during my Googling, El Camino de Costa Rica came up. As soon as I clicked through to the website, I knew that this was right for my next FKT attempt.
Photo credit: El Camino de Costa Rica
El Camino De Costa Rica is the newest addition to the World Trails Network. The trail was finished in 2018, and it crosses Costa Rica, beginning in the coastal city of Parismina and crossing through rural communities and indigenous land to finish in Quepos on the Pacific. The trail is 280 kilometers, and the official FKT is 11 days, 20 hours, 11 minutes. There was a faster attempt, 3 days, 22 hours, completed in August, but because that attempt did not follow the full official Camino, it is not considered an FKT. Regardless, I am treating that time as the time I would like to beat.
Before making a final decision, I reached out to the organizers of the trail to make sure that they would be okay with my FKT attempt. The Camino is a thoughtfully-created trail that the organizers envision should be completed in 16 days – taking the trail at that speed, visitors can see and experience the vast array of cultures, people, food, and fauna across Costa Rica. By running through it, quickly, I would be missing many of those experiences. Further, because I would be crossing through indigenous land, I wanted to make sure I could get the permission needed to enter. Because of this, I wanted to make sure that my attempt would be respectful of indigenous persons, the people and Costa Rica, and the organizers of the trail.
I had some help, as after I mentioned my interest in running El Camino de Costa Rica, Bruce, an ultrarunner living in Costa Rica, reached out and offered to connect me to the organizer (and to support the attempt!). He made the introduction, and I started communicating with one of the organizers. Conchita was willing to hear more about the attempt and, after a phone call where we talked logistics and planning, she was excited and on board for the FKT, offering to help with transportation, arranging the needed permissions, and providing support however she could to make the attempt a success. The more I learned about the trail and the people and places I’d meet, the more excited I became about the attempt. Because this is such an amazing trail, we will prioritize high-quality photos throughout the attempt to help to show how amazing and beautiful the Camino de Costa Rica is – we’d like to share this trail with the world.
One thing that is different from the CTL attempt is that I’ve already built a strong support crew; I also have a few more people volunteering to help as they can. Kris will be there again for the entire attempt, and Bruce and Conchita will provide local support on the ground. Nomi Bar is back to help with fuel, and Alpine Start has donated some of their epic instant coffee. Next, I’m working on securing sponsors to help with travel and gear.
Logistics planning will be ongoing. I need to troubleshoot the key things I learned from the CTL, most notably identifying different shoes that don’t rub my heel. I’m also looking to better diversify my fuel choices, and include a lot more salty food. I’ll once again be running to raise money for Girls on the Run; for this attempt, I’d like to raise at least $1,000.
I can’t wait to get on the trail again, and I’m so glad to have the support of El Camino de Costa Rica and a great crew!
Please help me kickstart the fundraising for Girls on the Run, an organization that bring running and empowerment to girls across the United States and Canada!
October 2019 update: To ensure more time to organize logistics for the attempt, I will be pushing the Camino de Costa Rica attempt back to February 2021. Stay tuned for more details and to follow the Pinhoti attempt in March 2020.