RJ’s Run: New Long Trail Speed Record, New VYCC Fundraiser
May 10, 2017 | Trails
When the Long Trail officially opens for the summer season Memorial Day Weekend, endurance athlete RJ Thompson will be on it – a lot. He is training to break the Long Trail unsupported speed record.
The Long Trail spans 273 miles along the spine of Vermont’s Green Mountains. It is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States. While most hikers take 3-4 weeks to complete the trail, the current unsupported speed record is 6 days, 17 hours, 25 minutes. “Unsupported” means the athlete carries everything they use from start to finish – no supply drops. In 2014, RJ tried to break that record, but sustained an injury 110 miles into the run. He is making a second attempt this August.
RJ is using this event as a fundraiser for Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, which teaches young people personal responsibility through meaningful work that connects them to the land, community, and one another. “It is important to foster an appreciation of our natural environment at a young age,” says Thompson. “In a time of relentless distractions and seemingly frivolous preoccupations, the VYCC provides an opportunity for youth to truly focus on tasks that yield positive outcomes – not just for the environment, but for those working together to complete the job.”
Over its 32-year history, VYCC Corps Members have repaired and improved many sections of the Long Trail, using nothing but hand tools, nearby stones, ingenuity, and sweat. In 2016, a crew placed 217 large stepping stones along the once-chronically muddy section that will mark RJ’s finish line: the Massachusetts border.
In August, the VYCC community – and all of Vermont – will cheer RJ on as he attempts to run the entire 273-mile Long Trail in less than 6 days, 17 hours, 25 minutes.
While his training started this past winter, he will hit the Long Trail every weekend starting opening day, with multiple 3-5 day solo excursions to prepare him for the attempt in August. If you see him out there, cheer him on! And, consider supporting his effort with a gift to Vermont Youth Conservation Corps!