Just one month after his UTMB-winning heroics, François D’Haene has arrived in California to attempt a FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the John Muir Trail. The iconic trail—which stretches from Mount Whitney’s 4,400-meter summit to the Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—traverses 356km of High Sierra wilderness with over 14,000 meters of elevation gain. Francois will be looking to best the current FKT of 3 days, 7 hours and 36 minutes set by U.S. athlete Leor Pantilat in 2014. For the Frenchman it’s a welcome opportunity for some adventure after an amazing season of racing.
“I knew that I would long for escapism, liberty, new sensations and something different from a trail where you share a bib with a lot of people,” D’haene says after a year that has seen him win a host of top races including Madeira Island Ultra, Maxi Race of Annecy and, of course, the UTMB. “This will also be an opportunity to live an adventure with my close friends, who will experience this adventure with me—for safety reasons but also to share strong emotions. I feel the need to push my limits or find new ones. It’s an opportunity to test myself for future projects; to see how my body will react on a 300km plus and 80-hour effort.”
This year’s UTMB assembled what is widely considered to be the deepest field ever for an ultra-race—a claim which also attracted intense attention from global media. Motivation in such a situation is not a problem for D’Haene or any of the other elites. The John Muir Trail, however, will be a very different kind of challenge. Still, it’s one the winemaker relishes.
“Discovering my needs in sleep, food supply and other issues as they come will be fun and motivates me,” he says. “I will have to adapt myself to the situation, and listen to my body and my friends who can advise me from time to time as I’m not sure that during 80 hours I will be lucid all the time.”
Due to the fact that the iconic John Muir Trail crosses no less than six National Parks, there are strict regulations in place, meaning D’Haene and his team had to apply for permits more than six months ago. As a result, waiting for a favorable weather window for the attempt is out of the question. “Departure will have to be on October 14th whatever the weather conditions will be,” D’haene says. “It is part of the game and I really intend to respect the local rules.”
In attempting the John Muir Trail KNT, D’haene will rely on the Salomon equipment he has used all season long, including a prototype version of S/LAB Sense Ultra 2 shoe, a shoe he helped develop with the company that will be available to consumers in the spring of 2018. He will also wear Salomon S/LAB Modula apparel and an S/LAB Sense pack (running vest).
Stay tuned to facebook.com/salomonrunning for regular John Muir Trail FKT updates, photos and videos from François, and follow Francois on Instagram at @francois_dhaene.
About Salomon: Born in the French Alps in 1947, Salomon is committed to pushing the boundaries of mountain sports through the creation of innovative equipment that allows people to play, progress and challenge themselves in their chosen outdoor sports. The company produces and sells premium footwear, winter sports and mountaineering equipment, hiking equipment, and apparel specifically designed for all of those disciplines. Products are developed in the company’s Annecy Design Center, where engineers, designers and athletes collaborate to create innovative solutions that continually improve the outdoor experiences of those who see nature as a vast playground.
Contact: Brian Holcombe
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