Karel Sabbe seeks Appalachian Trail record

Belgian ultra runner to set off on 3500km journey next week

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Belgian Karel Sabbe is to set off next week on an epic attempt to run North America’s Appalachian Trail in record time.

The ultra-runner will need to cover the 3500km trail in less than 45 days, 12 hours and 15 minutes to beat the current record set by Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy last year.

To do that, he plans to run the equivalent of two marathons a day, through technical mountain terrain across 14 states with the support of his brother-in-law and physiotherapist Joren Biebuyck. He will leave on July 18 from Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and navigate northward along the Appalachian mountains to Baxter State Park in Maine, near the Canadian Border.

With one North American trail running Guinness World Record already under his belt for the fastest crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail in August 2016, Karel is no stranger to ultrarunning adventures and world record attempts. The AT is much more accessible for Karel’s crew, pacers and supporters, which should help him stay positive and injury-free along the way.

To claim his second record title, he’ll have to log his entire run on Strava, provide live GPS location updates every four minutes, get signatures from passing hikers, take selfies at relevant points of interest and send the international record-referencing giant video evidence of his experience on the route. Not exactly a run in the park.

Just days away from his second record attempt on North America’s roughest, wildest, long-distance trail, Karel says: “Bring it on! I’m getting very excited and feel ready to give it everything! It’s amazing to have the opportunity to be the first person to hold the record for the “Double” - the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail – at the same time. There are two ultrarunners that have held record titles for each, but neither at the same time.”

As a sponsored SKINS endurance athlete, Karel has trained, raced and run his way into the record books in SKINS compression. And this time won’t be any different. SKINS chief operating officer Benjamin Fitzmaurice says: “Karel is an inspiration. Just looking at his Instagram account gets you excited. He is a real athlete, working a 9-5 job and doing amazing things in SKINS.

"It is a pleasure to support him with our compression technologies and we are looking forward to following and cheering Karel on to great things.

“SKINS has helped me train longer, recover faster and stay below the injury threshold,”

Karel says: “Thanks to their support, I will be able to start the record attempt in top shape and have a better chance of avoiding injuries on the trail.”

Stay tuned for news and updates, and follow his progress this July here.