Lake Tahoe, California - Starting at daybreak on Friday, July 17th, and finishing just before dusk on Saturday, July 18th, rabbitPRO Adam Kimble circumnavigated Lake Tahoe via the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) in a record-setting time of 37 hours and 12 minutes, bettering the previous fastest known time (FKT) by more than an hour.
Since its completion in the early 2000s, many speed records have been attempted on the grueling TRT, a loop trail that offers about 40,000 feet of total elevation change over 170 miles through the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. U.S. trail running legend Tim Twietmeyer held the record for four years after completing the route in 45 hours and 58 minutes in 2005. In 2009, trail running superstar Kilian Jornet, a multi-time winner of both the Hardrock 100 and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, lowered the bar significantly and established a new FKT of 38 hours and 32 minutes, a record that stood for the past 11 years.
Kimble, who lives in the Lake Tahoe area, had attempted a speed record on the TRT before. Last October, Kimble set out to eclipse Jornet’s record but was stifled by warm temperatures. He used last year’s experience as a stepping stone toward his successful attempt this past weekend.
“I was anxious to give it another go with the lessons I learned the first time around. Going the route I chose (and the same route Kilian ran in 2009) clockwise from Tahoe City, you hit a stretch of about 30 pretty exposed and hot miles relatively early on where there is no place to filter water. I knew I couldn't repeat the mistake of running out of fuel and water this time around,” said Kimble.
This year, Kimble says that he and his support crew “controlled for all the variables the best we could”. As a local to the area, Kimble had considerable knowledge of the course, which he’s able to train on weekly, and plenty of helping hands during the effort. He utilized those two advantages tactfully to take back the fastest time on the TRT for both himself and his local community.
“I've only lived in Tahoe for about four years, but I would call the TRT my go-to trail, because I train on it so frequently and can literally run out my front door and be on the trail in less than a mile. So, there was sort of a feeling for me that if I could break the record, I was doing it for all the Tahoe locals who love the trail so much,” Kimble noted.
Kimble had to overcome sleep deprivation, internal doubts, and numerous low points throughout his 37-plus hour effort. But by controlling variables like fueling, pacing, and other logistics, he was rewarded with a new FKT and recognition from Jornet, someone who inspired Kimble since his introduction to the sport in 2014, who congratulated Kimble on social media.
“Kilian has been one of the ultrarunners I've followed most closely. I've always been in awe of his accomplishments and his ability to remain at the top of the game for such a long period of time. Setting a new TRT FKT would have been special under any circumstances, but taking the record from Kilian elevated it to a completely different level,” Kimble added.
Given Jornet’s long list of fastest known times around the world, Kimble will have a litany of speed records to attempt in the future.
All photos by Helen Pelster.