93 Miles Alone on Wonderland

March 5, 2021

4 quick takeaways from Kris Brown’s epic SOLO record around Mt. Rainier

On August 27 at just after 3:00 am, Chaski Coach Kris Brown set off from the White River Campground on the northeast edge of Mt. Rainier and began his clockwise circumnavigation of the massive mountain. 90 (ish) miles later, Kris returned having received no aid or support and carrying all the calories he’d need to last him for the 20 hours and 39 minutes he spent running.

You can see his Strava route here and listen to our full conversation (which happened on IG live) below.

If you don’t have time for that, here are four quick takeaways.

1.  Mix up your training

Kris said he was feeling beat up and was “climbing poorly” on his home trails near Santa Barbara, CA. So, he mixed things up.

“I’ve actually been doing a lot more speed, like bike-path kind of track style workouts. I’ve been doing a lot of workouts with a guy who’s a really solid marathoner and it’s all been flat and, for me, fast. But, I think that’s just what I needed -- to mix things up and feel good in workouts and give my body a break from all the climbing and trail for a bit. And then, I got to the trail and had the confidence of all that speed as well as this huge base on the trails from the last few years.”

2.  Know your gut

As we’ve said in other blog posts, Kris is “vehemently pro gel.” Unlike Chaski’s own Mike Wardian or Tyler Andrews who have been known to eat quesadillas and pizzas in the middle of 20-hour efforts, Kris literally only ate gels and drank tailwind. For 20 hours.

(Full disclosure, Kris is sponsored by Gu Energy, but is still insanely pro-gel even for someone sponsored by a gel company)

“Yeah, I was eating 450 calories an hour, which is pretty aggressive but felt great all day. I was just drinking a bottle of tailwind and eating a gel. That was it. I’d done a bit of weighing of stuff before I left to try to figure out what was the best ratio of weight to calories, and those were literally the only two things I packed. It worked for me.”

3.  Know your route

Kris set another unsupported FKT a few years back, that time on 45 miles the Los Padres Traverse. That one, he said, felt a lot scarier because of how unknown it was.

“I wasn’t super familiar with the Los Padres route. I didn’t know how often I’d be able to get water or if I needed to bail or anything like that. I grew up in Seattle and had hiked the entire Wonderland Trail before, so I knew there were tons of opportunities to get water, like every two miles, and knew where I could get help if I needed. I carried two handhelds, but honestly probably only needed one, as crazy as that sounds for a 20+ hour effort.”

4.  Enjoy your fitness

He said it so well, we’ll just let him explain.

“One of the things we do as athletes is train super hard for months on end and then all of that is building towards this race where we push ourselves to the absolute limit to see how much we can get out of ourselves. I think 2020 has given us this cool opportunity to get fit but just enjoy that fitness, and that was what this was for me. I didn’t want to absolutely destroy myself.

My number one goal was to have a great experience out there and I thought if I did that I could probably get the FKT too. But I wanted to finish this one not feeling totally trashed [i.e. for the next month(s)]. I definitely have a lot of the same muscle and joint soreness that I would after an all-out 100 miler, but I don’t think I’ll have that months-long chemical misery that comes after a huge effort. I want to be able to get back into running.”

Kris is currently staying in Seattle with his parents and partner. He’s got more FKTs on his radar for the fall, including the Lost Coast Trail and then a secret event that we can’t quite yet disclose but, well, let’s just say he’s staying in touch with his road speed!

For more from Kris, check out the personal blog feed for #KrisBrown

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