US runner sets FKT at Nolan’s 14 in Colorado

US runner sets FKT at Nolan's 14 in Colorado

While the endurance running world was distracted by Courtney Dauwalter‘s astonishing performance at Hardrock 100, elsewhere in Colorado, Chicago-based runner David Hedges accomplished a remarkably challenging FKT at the infamous Nolan’s 14–a route that connects a line of 14 Colorado peaks, each towering over 14,000 feet, in a single push, in 60 hours or less. On the evening of July 14, Hedges lowered the supported fastest known time to 36 hours, 14 minutes, covering 151.4 kilometers and traversing up almost 14,000 meters of elevation.

The route is open to all and has no set course, but the runners usually log 140 to 160 kilometers with a minimum of 12,900 meters of elevation gain. To conquer the FKT, Hedges’ time needed to best Joey Campanelli‘s unsupported effort (41:00:33) from July 2020, as well as the previous supported FKT time of 46:41:00, run by Alex Nichols in 2018.

25-year-old Hedges has been hoping to challenge Nolan’s 14 route since high school when he read about it in ultrarunner Anton Krupicka‘s blog. While attending the University of Colorado, Hedges met cross-country coach Nichols, and ran with him for a large section of Nolan’s 14 when Nichols set his 2018 FKT.

hedges told iRunFar that watching Nichols move for over 40 hours made a deep impression on him: “That moment was really powerful, it absolutely changed my life. I became obsessed with Nolan’s and, later that summer and the next, scouted the course a good amount and did a boatload of training in the mountains, huge off-trail link-ups day after day.”

Hedges was supported by a small group of pacers, including Jack Kuenzle of repeat FKT fame. He ran and hiked the route in clear weather with little snowpack, and told iRunFar that he felt even-keeled the whole time, despite running out of food and becoming overheated at one point. He revived with the help of his crew and had a quiet celebration of “pizza and banter” in Leadville post-FKT. Hedges said he did struggle with his footwear, and had very cold and wet feet for much of the route.

What’s next for this up-and-coming endurance athlete? Hedges, who recently completed a master’s degree in regional planning, qualified for this UTMB in Chamonix later this summer, but is unsure whether he’ll tackle the race. If he does, new fans will be watching to see what magic this young endurance athlete can pull off.

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