Two of the Best Wonderland Trail FKT Films (Yes, this is a very subjective statement.)

I am a slow runner. This is not a complaint, and it’s not a critique. It’s just a plain statement of the truth. I can hold a 12-minute/mile pace for about 10 kilometers, and a 15-minute/mile pace for 20 miles, but that’s about it. After giving it absolutely everything, I was able to finish my first 50-mile race in just under 25 hours. Yes, I did spend roughly four hours in aid stations and getting my foot iced and taped so that I could keep moving, but still, this is SLOW.

And so it might come as a bit of a surprise that I do, in fact, enjoy seeing people chase FKTs (fastest known times), even though I know that nothing like that will ever be possible for me. (Well, unless I establish a route and keep my snail-paced FKT until someone comes to take a stroll and beats it.)

Today, I wanted to share with you two of my favourite FKT documentaries (oh wow, saying I’ve got a favourite FKT documentary feels like choosing a favourite child), both of them from the wonderful Wonderland Trail (most up-to-date FKTs can be found on this link).

The first Wonderland Trail FKT film I ever saw was about Gary Robbins who got his FKT in 2015, made by Ethan Newberry, also knows as The Ginger Runner. I re-watched it several times since. Gary is a beyond-inspiring runner (seriously, watch “Where Dreams Go to Die” to see what real grit is).

The second film I’m going to recommend today is also by Ethan Newberry, and follows Kaytlyn Gerbin, the current holder of the female supported FKT, and Dylan Bowman, who held the male supported FKT on the Wonderland Trail for just five days.

I hope you’ll enjoy these, I hope they’ll motivate you, and I’ll be back next week, hopefully back from the dead so I can tell you all about my Cool Moon 50-mile race which I haven’t recovered from yet. Just a little teaser: I totally got my money’s worth, having experienced it all; hallucinations, chafing, unstoppable nosebleed, nausea and throwing up, ridiculous heat, being stripped naked at an aid station to be brought back from the dead, and having to walk downhill backwards because legs gave up on me.

Kīlauea Iki | One Photo

I’ve been to Hawai’i before. I’ve seen Kīlauea before. But even the most basic knowledge of geology and, therefore, a slightly deeper understanding of how this place came to be, made this visit to the crater so much more fascinating.

Right next to Halema‘uma‘u crater, the star of the most recent eruption, there’s the smaller Kīlauea Iki crater that last erupted in 1959. Before it was a flat plain of volcanic rock, Kīlauea Iki was a V-shaped crater filled with trees. Then, suddenly — boom. A long fissure opened in one violent event and started to spew lava. Several other vents opened and within 24 hours, joined their forces in one event.

Fountains of lava were visible from afar, the tallest one reaching 1,900 feet (source).

A new cinder cone, Puʻu Puaʻi, was formed, and when the surface of the lava lake that formed in the crater submerged the fissure, the fountains stopped. Eventually, the lake drained back into the vents, leaving behind its crust. Signs of the drainage can be beautifully seen all around the crater’s edges in the slabs of rock that lay on the sloping walls.

We hiked through the crater, guided by the ahu, or cairns — trail markers built from stacked rock. For the first half (okay, maybe only a quarter) of the hike, I managed to stay on or near the trail like any other normal person. (You’re allowed to go off-trail in the crater, as the surface is very durable, and not at all delicate like many other places.)

“Why is it orange?” I was asked by our group when we stopped near Puʻu Puaʻi displaying a big red-colored scar on its side.

“Oxidization,” I answered, and then the excitement of understanding overpowered me and I ended up running all around the crater, looking at features that wouldn’t make any sense and wouldn’t mean anything to me only a year ago. After all, what’s there to see besides a flat plain of black rock and a few mounds of more black rock?

A lot. I found a crack in the floor that was going to turn into a slab dipping under the “surface” in a few hundred years, a steam vent, a piece of a broken slab that displayed beautiful layers in which you could see how the surface of the lava lake cooled down, turning into rock,… I found a lot.

And it all meant something thanks to knowledge. In fact, it was beyond fascinating thanks to knowledge. And I only wish I knew even more, then the place would probably blow my mind even more.