Appalachian Trail Endurance Record Attempt

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The picture to the left was taken this past March on the A.T. near Rockfish Gap, VA. David had met with Sam and Warren Doyle to discuss the upcoming endurance attempt.
Sam Swisher-McClure is a 19 year old hiker/runner from Elkins, WV. He has experience with a portion of the A.T. because last summer he set the endurance record on the Long Trail in Vermont. This trail is 272 miles and he covered the distance in a time of 6 days and 6 hours and 50 minutes.

His crew support will be Warren Doyle who has thru-hiked the A.T. ten times. Warren was the endurance record holder at one time.

The strategy for this attempt will be somewhat different than what David did in 1991. Sam plans on hiking the majority of the time rather than running. In order to accomplish his goal of breaking the existing record of 52 days and change he must average approximately 17 hours per day on the trail.

His attempt will start 12:00:01 am on June 5, 1998. We will follow his progress as well.

Click here to see a chart of the ideal schedule.

June 8, 1998 - Report #1

Sam started on June 5, 1998 as planned. On the first day Sam hiked for 20 hours and covered a distance of 55.5 miles. (2.8 mph)  Arriving at Trey Gap at 8:00pm in the evening.

The second day was similar with a distance of 57.6 miles covered. Start time was 3:00am and finishing time was 11:30 pm. (20 hours and 30 minutes) Both the first two days had lots of rain, with the second day ending at Wayah Gap, NC.

On the third day the weather cooperated better with clear skies and cooler temps. Sam covered 50.4 miles. The only physical problems experienced so far is a minor hip flexor problem.

Today, June 8th, started at 5:55 am and the distance planned is 40.4, which will take Sam to New Found Gap.

Because of these extremely high mileage days Sam is already one day ahead of David's schedule.

If you would like to read David's account of his first days on the trail in 1991 click here.

June 9, 1998

Made it to New Found Gap as planned on the 8th. 40.4 miles with a 5:55 am start and a 10:00pm finish. Ankle hurting just a bit on downhills but overall spirits are good.

NPR is doing an interview today but we do not have specifics as to when it will air.

June 10, 1998

Yesterday, June 9th, Sam covered 52.7 miles in 19 hours in the rain. This is back up to a 2.8 miles per hour average. Ended at Lemon Gap, NC. Presently he is approximately 1.5 days ahead of David's schedule from 1991.

In reference to the interview on public radio. The info we have is that the interview will be done today, (June 10th) by Dan Hyman with Dateline West Virginia on WV public radio.

We don't know exactly how many stations the interview will be on but if you have the ability to get WV public radio (88.5 or 89.1) you might listen around 4:00pm.

June 14, 1998

Here are the mileages for Sam the last several days.

6/11 - 8.6 (Explanation to follow)

6/12 - 41.1

6/13 - 43.6

On 6/11 Sam was experiencing some problems with muscle spasms. He decided that some rest and recuperation was in order hence the low mileage day. This problem seems to have resolved itself as evidenced by the mileages on the following days.

Today (6/14) he should end up at Low Gap on US 421. This is 15 miles south of Damascus, VA.

Based on this ending point he is 1 day ahead (approximately 43 miles) of David's 1991 schedule.

In a couple of days Sam will be around the Lynchburg area and so we should be able to give better updates.

June 17, 1998

We went down to southern Virginia today to try and catch up with Sam before David left for Colorado. (Hardrock is in a couple of weeks) Due to a miscalculation on our part, David tried to back track and find Sam when in reality he had just past where we were so David was never able to talk to Sam. While David was out for a little 16 mile run looking for Sam I had a chance to talk to Warren.

The incident where Sam had the 8 mile day was quite a remarkable story. Apparently late in the evening (about 10:00pm) Sam suddenly was in extreme pain in the area of his hip flexor and literally could not walk.

Warren and Sam stopped in the trail for about 20 minutes to figure what to do. Eventually they made it to a shelter around midnight and basically laid down on the ground and went to sleep.

The support van was miles away and in the morning Warren took off toward the van in bring some supplies back to Sam. Shortly after Warren left he heard a voice calling from behind him,  "Warren, Warren, my hip doesn't hurt any more." Needless to say there was considerable relief over Sam's recovery.

Warren had to go to Northern Virginia that day with his father so Sam did sleep the rest of the day and the next day resumed his hike as if nothing had happened.

Sam's mother who is a medical doctor thought it must have been muscle spasms that apparently left as mysteriously as they appeared because he has had no problem since then.

Statistics for the yesterday and today.

6/16 - Elk Garden to VA 615 - 48.5 miles - 5:35am - 11:05pm

6/17 - VA 615 to Virginia 612 - 48.5 miles (55.4 miles ahead of David's 1991 pace and 32.3 miles ahead of Andrew's pace)

June 19, 1998

Sam walked 44.3 on 6/18. His time on the trail was from 6am -10pm. He and Warren stopped at Stillhouse Branch Road (Va 641).  This is 1.8 miles past the New River. Warren indicated that their plans are for a big day on Sunday (6/21) and after that they will be back on the ideal schedule.

June 21, 1998

Rebekah and I and our oldest son Caleb had a chance to drive over and see Sam and Warren today. We took several pictures which will be posted in the next several days. We met at Jennings Creek where Sam had a chance to cool off and have lunch while Warren attended to his feet.

On Friday, (June 19th) Sam had an unbelievably long day. He covered 49 miles but because of the heat and terrain it took 23 hours. Of course the next day was a mere 40 miles in 18 hours. At the end of Saturday he was 76 miles ahead on David's 1991 pace.

Today if all went well Sam was going to hike to Petites Gap, which is very close to Lynchburg. Tomorrow their plans call for going to Crabtree Meadows. Both days will be in the low to mid - 40 mile range.

The temperature has been in the 90's down in Lynchburg so it is a little cooler up high but still in the 80's. The humidity has been bad as well. Typical June weather in Virginia.

Sam is battled some blisters and fatigue but in general good spirits. He did an interview with the Roanoke paper yesterday which I will attempt to find and post.(No promises)

June 22, 1998

Pictures from yesterday as promised. Click here.  No frames click here.

June 24, 1998

Warren called this morning and left a message on the machine so I have  the bare statistics with little commentary. 

June 21 - Stopped at Petites Gap - 45.6 miles

June 22 - Stopped at Salt Log Gap - 40.5 miles

June 23 - Stopped at Rockfish Gap - 44.1 miles

Overall average so far for the 19 days is 44 miles per day. Still battling blisters and fatigue. 86 miles ahead of David's 1991 schedule.

June 29, 1998

We received an update yesterday via e-mail from Sam's mother. She indicated Sam is doing well overall but his spirits do flucuate. He is getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night. He has a very steady pace and essentially he walks the uphills and downhills at the same pace. During the course of the day he will normally take 1-2 hours of rest during his 19-20 hour day.

Date - Day # Mileage Ending Point Hours
June 24 - 20 44.9 Swift Run Gap 17.5
June 25 - 21 50.5 Skyline Drive 19
June 26 - 22 46.1 Route 7 18.5
June 27 - 23 42 I-70 and Rt 40 15.75
June 28 - 24 55.6 Pine Grove Furnace 20.5

The overall stats are:  126.2 miles ahead of David's 1991 pace.

2.5 miles per hour (Includes breaks during the day)

44.5 miles per day

July 4, 1998

Warren called today and reported that Sam was off the trail. He suffered an injury to his foot on Day 25(June 29). Apparently he had an ulcerated spot under a callous on his right foot. He stepped on a sharp rock in a way that caused this spot to become severely inflammed.

He did not stop until today July 4th. He was still making progress but his pace had slowed to about one mile per hour and the problem with his foot was not getting better. When the problem happened he was 125 miles ahead of David's pace but over the next several days that cushion completely evaporated because of the slow pace. They knew they had to go into the second half of the trail ahead of David's schedule and this was no longer feasible.

He actually stopped at Rt 183 in PA.

Anyone who would like to e-mail Sam can do so at wdoyle@neumedia.net

 

 

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Sam with Warren Doyle

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