Ultrarunner Timothy Olson ran the Pacific Crest Trail in 51 days


Ultrarunner Timothy Olson just posted the fastest time known to cross the Pacific Crest Trail.

The route spans 2,650 miles, starting at the US-Mexico border to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington, crossing deserts, mountain ranges and everything in between. Olson began the trip on June 1 and finally ended on July 22.

He scored 51 days, 16 hours and 55 minutes on the track, beating the previous fastest known time of a day. Olson often ran 16 to 17 hours a day to keep up. To put the feat into perspective another way, he averaged 51 miles per day during the challenge, meaning he essentially ran the equivalent of almost two marathons per day for 51 straight days.

We caught up with the runner over the phone as he is picking up at his home in Boulder, Colorado.

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“The recovery is taking longer than expected. I am in a lot of pain,” he says. “My muscles went into a complete spasm. I couldn’t walk or do anything other than lie down. I just had to surrender to it. For an ultra, it takes a week to recover. times! Everything seems really weak, and I’m on my feet a bit, and then I just want to take a nap. I’m extremely exhausted, and rightly so. “

Olson shares that he struggled with terrible leg spasms that lasted for over a week and kept him from walking. But his body is recovering and he was able to climb the steps of his house to get into bed.

Olson burned around 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day while on PCT. To stand up, he took every opportunity to refuel. He had a support team following him in an RV, and some mornings he could have a hearty breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and bacon. He also ate a lot of grains (including Captain Crunch, Chex, and Honey Nut Cheerios).

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“It turned into eating all the calories I could get,” he says. “I was eating Captain Crunch cereal towards the end … [and] I don’t eat sugary cereal! ”Most mornings he sucked on a protein smoothie before hitting the trail, where he packed and carried his food that was“ thrown in a backpack, ”from Snickers bars. almonds, Honey Stinger waffles, nut butters, beef jerky, and energy chews, yet he lost about 10 to 15 pounds during the run.

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Courtesy of Adidas Outdoor

All these kilometers had an impact on his equipment. Olson is an adidas Terrex athlete, and he estimates that he has walked “at least eight” pairs of shoes between three different models of his sponsor – the Terrex Speed ​​Ultra, the Terrex Two Parley and the Terrex Agravic Boa – during of the 51 days and 2,650 miles. Since most shoes are recommended to have a lifespan of around 300-500 miles, that’s not a bad track record.

As he crossed the line and completed the ultimate goal of completing the course, Olson did not come out of the experience completely unscathed. He developed a serious injury to his shin and calf from overuse, which made “every step painful,” he says. “I was limping and getting ready to finish.”

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Olson kept his mind focused on the track by falling back on a technique he has practiced for over a decade: meditation.

“I have been practicing mediation for over 10 years, so I meditated and did a lot of body scans, breathing from my feet and checking with different parts of my body, from my ankles, knees, pelvis, lungs, stomach, heart, throat and head, “he says. His mantra was” Be here now, “and it worked to help him stay present and focus on the track in front of him.

It was painful. It was glorious.

He also thought of his family, who followed him throughout the trip: his wife, Krista, who is expecting their rainbow baby (a girl) in a few weeks, and her two sons, Tristan and Kai. “We had two miscarriages. It was definitely a huge motivation and inspiration to keep going,” he says. “I thought I could spend time with [my family] after, and it would light up my heart and my feet. “

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Courtesy of Adidas Outdoor

As he continues to recover, reflecting on the journey is still overwhelming. But he knows that the experience has changed him completely.

“It sparked a lot of emotions. I went into this realm to go into nature, purify the soul and explore the depths of my mind, heart and body,” said Olson. “When you do something for so long and so deep in nature, you have no choice but to go wild and go wild. And that’s what happened. It was painful. It was painful. glorious. I can be really proud to have left everything I possibly had in me there. ”

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