UTMB FKT. TBC.

So many acronyms, so little time! There’s a joke in there somewhere; There’s also poetic irony in the fact that finding ourselves with so much more time on our hands recently has led to an increase of trying to do things in less time! Yes, with the lack of any direct competition, races or events over the previous few months, the FKT (Fastest Known Time) concept has grown exponentially and in its wake has left a trail of fallen records. 

Endurance Running

It’s a testament to the sport of endurance running that, at a time when all other sports had shut down and been non-existent, it was able to stay relevant, entertaining, intriguing and in some cases more dramatic than ever. In the UK there have been a number of recent very high profile records broken or set; including Damian Hall’s Pennine Way FKTBeth Pascall’s Bob Graham Round, Kim Collison’s Lakeland 24-hour record, Sabrina Verjee becoming the first woman to complete the Wainwright Round and Dan Lawson’s LEJOG.

Damian Hall
Damian Hall on his way to breaking the Pennine Way FKT. Credit: www.inov-8.com / dmtwo.media

But it really has been a worldwide trend and according to fastestknowntime.com, the site that tracks and verifies all attempts, there were 566 added to the website in July this year as opposed to 151 last July.

Drama and Intrigue = UTMB

Now back to the intrigue and drama and there really is no other event on the racing calendar quite like Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB). The 105-mile route, a loop of Mont Blanc, starting in Chamonix (France) and taking in Courmayeur (Italy) and Champex (Switzerland) before returning to Chamonix, forms the centre-piece event for the UTMB Festival held every August – bar this one for obvious reasons. In the spirit of this FKT season the famous route is being targeted by ultra-runner Pau Capell of Spain.

The Main Excuse Is Just To Run

The 28-year-old won the main event last year in a time of 20h19m, which itself is the current FKT for the course. On Friday 28th August Capell will set off once more round the mountain with his main aim being to take at least 20 minutes from that time and complete it under 20 hours. “It will only be me running, with no pacers,” said Pau. “It’s going to be difficult, but I will try. I enjoy these kinds of personal running projects a lot because it’s not a race,” he continued. “At a race we have a lot of pressure. Media is there, sponsors, other athletes and fans. There won’t be any of that this time. In an FKT attempt it’s just you and your own team. The main excuse is just to run.”

The spectacle is being dubbed “Pau Capell – Breaking 20”, and you can follow his progress round the notoriously brutal route on Suunto’s Instagram.