The Fastest Known Time website may hold over 5,900 unique routes for you to discover and explore, but what do you do when you have a new concept for an FKT challenge? How do you turn your wisp of an idea into a fully fledged, accepted route to be recorded and entered into the FKT community? In this article, we will walk you through the basic steps from FKT conception to completion so that you can be confident that your idea will be one accepted by the FKT editors.
1. Start with a unique, interesting idea.
One of the key things to remember when developing a new route is that it should be compelling; ask yourself if others would be interested in completing your proposed route? Why? Is the route beautiful in a special way, technically challenging, historically interesting? Does the route tell a story, or does it lead to a deeper understanding of place? Perhaps the route offers an opportunity to a community that historically does not have the opportunity to set an FKT (i.e. an urban FKT easily accessible by public transportation). Your route should have meaning that you can articulate in a few sentences; this will be part of the submission criteria. Your route should be at least 5 miles (8 km) long or have more than 500 feet (167 m) of elevation gain.
2. Research the existing FKTs and known time data.
Once you have an idea firmly in hand, it’s time to research. Your first stop should be the fastestknowntime.com website to make sure that there is not an existing route that is similar to what you have planned. The editors are looking for unique routes – a bucket list of adventure options that others will be inspired to do. If your concept looks very similar to one that is already out there, go back and challenge yourself to come up with something more original. Only Known Times – taking on a route that no one has ever tried before – is a great place to start.
If the route that you would like to do is a variation of an existing route (i.e. a different approach to a peak, or a double out & back of an existing route), you should email the regional editor of that area to request a variation on that existing route rather than submitting a new route.
If you do have an original route in hand, your next step is to check out the Strava segment data to see if there are existing times on the route. You can create a new route with an existing Strava time; you’ll just want to be sure to note it in your write-up about the route.
3. Create a solid map of your route.
Once you have a route in mind, have confirmed that it is an original concept, and checked out any known times, it’s time to create a .gpx file of the route. There are many options for creating .gpx files from scratch, including GaiaGPS, CalTopo, Komoot, OnX and Avenza Maps. You’ll want to carefully plan the route, taking care to note if there is private property or restricted access issues that could make the route difficult to complete. The best routes will offer full public access and not require users to break any laws in the completion of the FKT.
Should you attempt the route for the FKT before submitting?
This is one of the great debates in the FKT community. Some will argue that you should claim the FKT before you submit the route, while others will argue that you should simply do the route at a slower speed for intel prior to turning it in. Still others will encourage you to submit the route first, have it accepted, and then go for the FKT once you have confirmation that they will accept it as a route. You’ll find examples of routes that fit all of these scenarios; many of the unclaimed FKTs are routes that have been turned in and never completed. It really is up to you and your preference as to which way you go. Some will argue that turning in a route before you run it opens you up to the possibility that someone will do the route faster than you before you have a chance to claim it, but this would not be enough of a concern to deter any of us.
You can submit a new route and the FKT for the new route at the same time if you wish. You can also simply submit a new route that you have done at a leisurely pace without ever claiming the FKT.
4. Write up the description for the FKT website and hit submit. Don’t forget to use great photos!
The argument for why your FKT route should be accepted is the backbone of the route description. You should include the distance and elevation gain for the route, as well as notes about accessibility and any other concerns or specifications that could cause issues down the road (i.e. if the true summit is tricky to find, you should write up directions to make sure others who follow go to the proper spot in their efforts). Be specific about start and end points. This is also where you will talk about why you chose the route – for its history, beauty, technical challenge, etc. Photos are important at this stage, as these are one of the biggest selling points for any route. Make your submission as complete as possible; this will up your odds of route acceptance.
Once you have your .gpx file, photos and description, you’ll need to create an account on fastestknowntime.com (if you don’t already have one) and turn in your submission. The editors typically respond in a week or two.
5. Celebrate your creativity.
Whether that means you snag the FKT for your brand new route, share it with your friends as a challenge, or simply screenshot your labor on the FKT website, you should be proud of the route that you created for others to explore. Route creation is an essential part of the FKT community, and your contribution is a welcome part of the process.
We hope to see your creations out in the community!