how to fkt
New to FKTs? Start here.
You’re inspired, you’re excited, and you know that you want to try and set an FKT. But what comes next? How do you decide what to do? How do you record your time? How do you make sure you are following the rules? Many factors go into an FKT attempt, and we’re here to guide you through the process of your first FKT. Buckle up, and start your FKT ride!
1. Think about your strengths on the trails.
Are you a speedster or are you stronger at hiking and long days? Do you excel at climbing? Are you quick on the descent? Are you better at road miles than technical trails? Do you like to swim? Or rock climb? Cycle? Use your strengths to your advantage, and think about the things you like to do. If you’re going to put in the time and training for an FKT, won’t it be more fun if it is something that you love to do? FKTs come in all lengths and can consist of a combination of sports (as long as it is at least 50 percent running or hiking), so let your imagination run. What kind of project gets you most excited at the end of the day?
2. Determine where you want to set your FKT and which route you want to do.
You can find an FKT almost anywhere, and if there are none described on the FKT website in the area that interests you, you can submit a new route. Many women choose places that have special meaning to them to attempt their FKT, while others will choose locations that they are excited to explore. Get out the map (either on fastestknowntime.com or your favorite mapping application), and decide where you want to go. If you’re more interested in finding a route that does not have a women’s time yet, we do have lists of open FKTs in different states. We are working on creating more of those resources. We’re also happy to help you find an FKT that fits your strengths. Join our Facebook group to connect with us.
3. Research the existing times on this route and set your goal.
This is an important step. If the FKT has a recorded time, you’re goal is pretty clear: beat the listed FKT. If the route is one with no recorded women’s time, you need to do some investigation on Strava and/or other websites where times may be recorded. It is entirely possible that fastest known times can exist for a route that are not listed on the website! This is often the case for popular routes with no listed FKT.
We have more detailed information on using Strava as a research tool for your FKT attempt. Summit routes may be recorded on summitpost.org. Special challenges, like the Ultrapedestrian Wilderness Challenges or Christof Teuscher’s Run Outside the Box, often have a dedicated website that lists more complete results than are shown on the FKT website. The FKT community expects you to make a good faith effort to confirm your time is in fact the fastest known time for the route. Do your homework!
4. Figure out which style of FKT you are going to do.
FKTs are done in different ‘styles,’ depending on how much outside support the runner gets. Someone who has a lot of help along the way is expected to be a little faster than someone who carries everything they need. The 3 styles of FKT are ‘unsupported,’ ‘self-supported,’ and ‘supported.’ Many routes longer than 30 or 40 miles list separate FKTs for 2 or 3 different styles.. So how do you choose? It mostly comes down to a personal choice.
Unsupported means that you get the distinct pleasure of independence- relying entirely on yourself for the duration. It can also be logistically simpler to not have to worry about crew or pacers. But you do need to be very prepared to get yourself out if any problems come up.
Self-supported is primarily used for longer routes when you want the independence of unsupported… but after a cold, hard look at the route you realize you won’t be able to carry everything you need for the run. The planning is still mostly pretty simple, but you may need to do some advance work by placing a cache or mailing yourself resupplies. Your self-supported time will need to be faster than any posted unsupported time to be accepted.
Supported runners often rave about how much they enjoyed the company of friends. You can take care of yourself with all the amenities! But managing crew and pacers can be more stressful than in a race. You won’t know if your crew made it to the meet spot until you get there. If they don’t make it you’re just kinda out of luck. You’ll also have to post a time faster than any unsupported or self supported FKTs on that route to have your time accepted.
5. Train for your FKT.
For most of us, FKTs are a peak effort, comparable to a race, and you should train with your future FKT in mind. Obviously, your training will vary depending on the length and terrain where you plan to run. Going out and scouting the route prior to your attempt is highly recommended, as this can help you sort out navigational challenges. If you’re going for a longer effort with gear you’re not accustomed to, plan to spend some time on the trail sorting out what you want to use. The more planning and training that goes into your FKT, the better your odds for success.
6. Attempt your FKT.
It’s time to do it! You may choose to reach out to the previous record holder about your attempt, or to post on the fastestknowntime.com website that you are going to be going for a route. Other FKT holders are usually excited to hear that someone new is going to attempt to run the route where they hold a record and may share advice. Public notification is required for the “premiere” routes – those routes that see a lot of FKT action. You may choose to use a GPS tracker and post your real time track, or you can record on your own and submit the track after the fact. The important thing is that you have a .gpx track that can be submitted to show your travel and time. Additional support in the form of time stamped, geolocated photos can also be helpful. Tracks can be submitted in pieces if your watch dies, but your documentation should be as thorough as possible or it may not be accepted.
Once you get home, write a summary of your FKT and submit all of the information to the fastestknowntime.com website for approval. In your summary, it is a good idea to include information about any support you had to make it very clear that you ran your FKT in the style you claim you did.
7. Celebrate your FKT!
Once your FKT has been accepted, it’s time to celebrate your achievement. We love to share FKT stories of anyone who identifies as a woman. Our Instagram content comes from women who tag us in their FKTs. If you want us to brag about you, tag us in a social media post or email us.