While most of the nation is practicing social distancing away from large social gatherings, Kogalla athlete, Candice Burt is taking those measures to a whole other level — by running 800 miles in the Arizona desert with the help of a small support crew.
On March 15, at approximately 9:50 a.m., Burt began her attempt at setting the fastest known time (FKT) for the Arizona National Scenic Trail. The current female FKT for the trail is held by Helen Galerakis with a time of 17 days, 11 hours, 3 minutes, and was set going north to south on Nov 3, 2019. The overall FKT is held by Josh Perry, who set it October 2019, completing the distance in 14 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes. Burt has set a goal to complete the trail running south to north in under 14 days, which would clear the field on both the male and female sides.
The 800-mile trail begins on the Mexico/Arizona border, and moves north toward Utah, traversing the entire north-south length of Arizona. The trail moves through parts of the Huachuca, Santa Rita, and Rincon Mountains, making for some steep and technical terrain. But it isn’t just the rocky terrain, desert conditions or long miles that will make this attempt a challenge. With 14 days, also comes nearly as many nights. And in order to complete the distance in the goal time, Burt will have to spend many of those dark, night hours on the move.
Like many ultra distance athletes, the night hasn’t always been a friend to Burt. In 2012, after her first Wonderland Trail FKT run, she experienced a very scary time during the night that left her not only frightened, but traumatized for years.
“When I ran the Wonderland route solo in 2012, I had several animal encounters, all in the same 4-hour window of time,” she said. “I saw two bears and two mountain lions. It was all on the climb up from White River, at night. Having never encountered mountain lions and being alone with no way to defend myself, it was an extremely frightening and life changing encounter. Not only did I feel stronger for having gotten through the situation, I was also left traumatized, and for years after that was scared when running alone at night.”
Thankfully, Burt has had several more positive experiences running through the night since that time, that have allowed her to not only embrace the darkness, but to use it to her advantage in running successes.
The ultrarunner, who is also the race director and owner of Destination Trail races, has many FKT’s under her belt, including the following:
With two nights already in on the Arizona Trail, Burt is on track to get her goal with the help of her Kogalla Ultra Trail Light for what she says is “lighting up the night.”
Burt’s FKT attempt is in an effort to fundraise for Girls on the run in AZ, and the Arizona Trail Association. Updates to her progress can be found on her Instagram page @runcandicerun. You can also follow Candice via her live tracking page.