Claire Bannwarth says she has proved that nothing is “impossible” to her after setting a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Colorado Trail, just days after running at the Tahoe 200 and Hardrock 100.
Not only did the French runner complete two of the USA’s most esteemed ultras less than a week apart, she was fifth woman at Hardrock and overall winner at Tahoe – the first woman to ever achieve the feat.
Less than four days after her Tahoe win, Bannwarth then embarked on her self-supported Colorado Trail FKT attempt – on the West to East, Collegiate East variation – targeting under 10 days and six hours for the 500-mile trek from Denver to Durango.
She would ultimately finish in nine days and three hours – pending ratification – knocking four hours off the self-supported FKT, held by Ty Smith since October last year.
Bannwarth, who among an array of achievements this year won the Montane Spine Race, beat her own Backyard Ultra record in France and finished third at the Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB 100M, has revealed how tough it was to arrange – and believe in – the prospect of completing Hardrock, Tahoe and the Colorado Trail FKT.
“Back to France,” she wrote on Instagram. “Exactly a month ago I was landing in Denver. Completely stunned in this unknown land, and panicked by whatever was to follow and looked completely insane.
“Chaining Hardrock, Tahoe 200 and especially this little FKT project on the Colorado Trail. Before we even talk about the sports side, I let you imagine the organizational side, especially when we choose not to rent a car in the country of cash.
“For those who don’t know me, I work for an insurance company, I’m in calculating the odds, and already the probability of achieving an objective out of three was already low, so three, and without getting hurt from the first.
“In short, many thought I was crazy, and to be honest I was rather right, it seemed extremely difficult to me to want to achieve these three objectives.
“Extremely difficult but not impossible.
“So I did it as usual. I organized everything to the core, took each event one by one, did my best to prepare it as best, use the few days before the next to recover as soon as possible, start again and do the same with the next one
“At the end of the day, I have no words to say how proud I am of what I have accomplished.”
“Hardest thing I’ve done”
Staggeringly, Bannwarth went on to assert that she was frustrated not to achieve a top-three finish at Hardrock and that the Colorado FKT was the feat she is most proud of.
“Although I’m disappointed with my fifth place finish and would have loved to podium, I was very strong on Hardrock,” she added. “Then a scratch win on the Tahoe 200.
“And especially what to say about this Colorado Trail. This was legit my biggest fear, and rightly so the craziest, hardest thing I’ve done and definitely will do in my entire life.
“I went through unknown states of tiredness until now, to the point of hovering into a secondary state of unreality. But I did it. I beat the self supported FKT.
“Now that was a completely insane program.
“No sensible person says this has the slightest chance of working. And it indeed had a chance in a million to succeed.
“Well, I did it. And now, nothing seems impossible to me. Damn, can’t wait for the next one.”