Friday, June 29, 2012

Greenstone Ridge Trail FKT Notes

For those of you that have been following my blog or my training in the last few months, you know that on May 1st, I announced my intent to set the fastest known time on the 40.1 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail (GRT) this summer.

The specific date of the FKT will be Tuesday, July 10.

What is the Greenstone Ridge Trail?  It is the longest trail, on the largest island in the largest lake in the world.  The Greenstone Ridge forms the geologic backbone of one of America's least visited National Parks, Isle Royale. This half-million acre island is located in the far northwestern corner of Lake Superior.  It gets its name from the greenish stones that are commonly found along it and despite being closer to Minnesota, is official part of Michigan, my home state.

Per my research as documented on my blog, I believe the time to beat for the trail is 10 hours 12 minutes.  That said, the time was a loose claim with no documentation whatsoever.  Based on the forums, the blogs and all of my research, I believe that my time will become the official documented standard fastest known time.  I posted this statement two months ago and have heard no disputes.  I have read several reports of faster times, but the runners have left from Rock Harbor and used Tobin Trail to run 3 miles up to Mount Franklin and pick up the GRT, skipping the 5.1 mile section of the GRT that extends north east to Lookout Louise.  Therefore, none of these faster claims are for running the entire GRT end to end.

My training has been on track where I had planned to be with over 600 miles logged through May and June with a few peak weeks in excess of 90 miles.  I have focused on plenty of hills and climbing to prepare for the elevation change.

Finally I am into my taper and my body is very thankful.

I have read several books on the island, studied the trail maps intensely and put together a detailed document for each of the 10 sections of the GRT including mile markers and an elevation profile.  I feel mentally and physically prepared.

My biggest concerns that remain are:
  1. Trail markings - I am running this trail sight-unseen and though I have heard the markings are good, I am concerned about the ability to follow the trail, in trying to run it for time.

  2. Water - I will be carrying 100 ounces of water in my pack and two 20oz hand bottles.  I have also mapped out water sources at campgrounds, which are all off the ridge with steep drops down (and climbs back up) and would add time, so I will most likely be pushing through. I am running west to east and most off trail water sources are early (first 20 miles) so it won't matter much later in the day.   

  3. Weather - My trip is structured around the specific day of July 10, so no matter the weather, I am fixed on this day. I have been training in the head of Alabama with peak temperatures recently in the 100's everyday, so even if temps creep up into the 70's, which is unlikely, I should be prepared for the heat.  
I believe that given a decent weather day, I can complete the entire trail in about 9 hours or faster based on the plan below.

#LocationStartLocationEndTotalMax EleMin EleGainLossChangeDuration
1Washington Creek Trail0.0Island Mine Trail5.95.91354627111246717671:28:30
2Island Mine Trail5.9Lake Desor South Trail10.74.8139099349877313751:12:00
3Lake Desor South Trail10.7Ishpeming Point14.23.513719465882059610:52:30
4Ishpeming Point14.2Hatchet Lake Trail18.03.81372106936767011340:45:36
5Hatchet Lake Trail18.0Indian Portage Trail25.27.21203712950120022821:48:00
6Indian Portage Trail25.2Chickenbone East Trail26.81.68076711351814000:19:12
7Chickenbone East Trail26.8Daisy Farm Trail31.04.2100973367043712670:50:24
8Daisy Farm Trail31.0Mount Ojibway Trail32.51.511349532751185760:22:30
9Mount Ojibway Trail32.5Mount Franklin Trail35.63.1114510062643336820:37:12
10Mount Franklin Trail35.6Hidden Lake Trail40.44.810697652304557330:57:36

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in any way, from supplying information on the trail, trained with me during the past few months or otherwise put up with me during this tiring period.

There is no cell phone coverage on the island, so you won't hear how I did until July 12 when I make my way back off the island.  Unless of course something happens out there; then as my Dad tells my mom when he goes to camp... just wait a few days and look for the crows that are circling over my body.  Just kidding of course.

Happy trails...