Scott Jurek's Appalachian Trail speed record was the endurance achievement heard 'round the running world over the weekend, but Jurek wasn't the only endurance athlete to nab an iconic feat. Denver-based mountaineer Andrew Hamilton jogged down Longs Peak in a rain-soaked descent early on July 9, and in doing so, claimed a new speed record for climbing all 58 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado.
Hamilton, 40, climbed the 14ers in just under ten days, clocking in at a total of nine days, 21 hours, and 51 minutes. That's an average of summiting and descending around four peaks a day. For perspective, it takes an average hiker around 12 hours to complete the 14,259-foot Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. To accomplish the record, Hamilton got by on fragmented sleep, and support from his wife, friends, and family at transition points and homemade aid stations. Before setting out on the journey, he assembled an extensive plan that documented each trailhead, trail map, ascent route, and transition road he would need to take in order to break the previous speed record of 10 days, 20 hours, and 26 minutes, held by Teddy Kaiser.
Hamilton first heard of the 14ers speed record back in 1996. At the time, he was a raft guide in Buena Vista, and views of the towering Sawatch range inspired him to start hiking more. After reading in Gerry Roach's Colorado Fourteeners book that the record at the time was 16 days, 21 hours, and 25 minutes, Hamilton set the goal to break it, and set a new one himself. During his first attempt in the summer of 1999, he was able to beat the previous record by 1 hour and 28 minutes, but he didn't hold the title long, as previous record-holder Ricky Denesik reclaimed the title in 2000, only to lose the title one month later to Teddy Kaiser.
Kaiser flew in from his home in Portland, Oregon, to cheer Hamilton on to the finish line, and told The Denver Post, "You have to have a certain amount of intensity to be able to keep going when things are really rough and it's two in the morning and you are on some vertical cliff with 500 feet of exposure and there are 20-mile-per-hour winds and you are all by yourself and are fatigued. But you also need a certain calmness in your nature to pull through the rough spots and keep pushing. You need that intensity and that calmness of nature to be able to break through a record like this."
You can read Hamilton's blog detailing his record-setting journey here.