Sport Walking ‘Trail Records’ are our log of fastest known times for Sport Walking a particular route, either an official way marked trail or a route created by a walker which is publicly available to follow. Fastest Known Times are rather delightful things, they can exist where no formal ‘World Record’ is possible or recognised.
World Records are not always possible in some sports because of variable conditions or courses and an official World Record requires a recognised governing body to administer, time and regulate it. Olympic Canoeing is a good example of how variable conditions prevent a World Record being set – the open water is inherently variable and therefore cannot be accurately replicated from race to race to determine which performance is best overall. It’s not just a matter of the strength and direction of wind, it is the variability of the water itself that is the problem, unlike in track athletics, where the wind may vary but the track remains constant.
Fastest Known Times or ‘FKT’ for short are commonly found in long distance endurance challenges, in particular where the challenge is not part of an organised event. Many Ultras take place on fixed courses each year, so they can deliver ‘Course Records’. FKTs are often set for routes where the challenge is so long that no one runs a race or event over it – the Appalachian Trail is a great case in point.
At Sport Walk, we want to champion the very principle of setting FKTs or ‘Trail Records’ as we’re calling them and we want this to be a key part of Sport Walking. In terms of challenging yourself, you can’t do much better than setting out to walk a National Trail or a way marked route in the fastest verified time! There is another reason though. Many organised Ultra races don’t currently distinguish between walking and running in their results – they make their events open both to walkers and runners but results are grouped together and walkers’ achievements are buried within the overall times.
So we’ve set up this page, initially to start a basic list of Sport Walking Trail Records (for fixed National Trails and other designated way marked routes), whether they be set in an event or as an independent challenge. We’re starting with verifiable times that we have actual experience of but we’re keen to hear from anyone who has set a verifiable fast walk time for either an organised event or as their own challenge, so we can update the list.
Be aware though, to get on the list you must be able to provide detailed supporting data – see the qualifying criteria below the list itself. We’re not saying our Trail Records are superior to any other record of a walk, we’re just saying that we’ve established a set of criteria by which we can be confident (as can you), that the times we record have been achieved solely by walking a route.
Given that walking is not the fastest way to cover ground, there is potential for a glory hunter to run/walk to get the record, so we will be requiring a verified recording of top walking speed prior to any attempt, against which the attempt itself will be measured. It’s in everyone’s interest for records set to be both reliable and to stand up to scrutiny.
SPORT WALKING TRAIL RECORDS
South Downs Way (walkers’ route), non-stop east to west – 162km/100 miles
Trail Record set Friday 5th – Saturday 6th July 2019 – Roger Burlinson (solo): 27:56:05
Race to the Stones – 100km
Race to the Stones 2017 – Claudio Cadei: 14:56
Staunton Way – 34km
Trail Record set 3rd May 2018 – Roger Burlinson: 4:33:52
Clarendon Way – 45km
Record attempt suffered route discrepancies (unofficial result) – Roger Burlinson: 6:08:07
We will gladly include on the list any fast time which is accompanied either by a race result (a link to a currently published race results listing) or a public post on any sports network or app, such as Strava, Garmin Connect, Suunto Moves Count, Endomondo etc. App activities or race results MUST be classed as walking (we cannot list any race result which is part of a running event and where the entry classification is not specified as walking) and if the race entered is not able to divide results into running and walking classifications, then app data will be called upon to verify the claim.
Furthermore, for an official Trail Record time to be recorded and recognised by Sport Walk, the entrant must have recorded (in advance of their attempt or the race) a video of themselves measuring their top walking speed (contact us for guidance on how to do this), featuring the speed data as the video is recorded. This will essentially set their declared maximum walking speed for the attempt, to ensure that no running or jogging takes place.
Any data peaks that exceed this maximum speed will be accepted, provided they last no longer than a few seconds (GPS devices will often show excessive speeds during tracking and this will be accommodated within record attempts). Average Speed will, in most cases, be used to establish that no running has taken place with secondary reference to specific speed and pace variations during the attempt being the back up, should there be any discrepancy between the actual attempt and the prior top speed recording (if the attempt speed exceeds the pre-recorded top speed by a small margin, perhaps because of improved form).
Where the pre-recorded top speed is exceeded repeatedly or for longer periods, it will be assumed that some running has taken place and the time will not qualify as an ‘official’ Sport Walking Trail Record. The time will still be recorded by us but it will be classified as ‘unverified’.
Rules around the recording of raw data for a Sport Walking Trail Record are currently as follows: A GPS watch which uploads to the manufacturer’s own website must be used (direct recording to Strava or other social app will not count, given their rounding up or down of time and performance data); The data recording should be uninterrupted, although it is the total elapsed time that will count and this can be calculated by the start and finish times (we understand that sometimes watches can accidentally be paused during a challenge). There should be a video taken of the departure (phone video is OK), with both the walker and a device (not the walker’s own device) displaying the current time in view. The date and time stamp for the video will verify the exact time, location and day. Likewise at the finish, there should be another video taken with the finish, the walker and the date and time showing on a device, if the attempt is a solo challenge, not part of an event.
To help support your attempt, we recommend recording short video clips at regular points along the way, showing your watch and legs at the same time, to verify that you are walking and showing the speed at that given point. Within each clip, you should also show some distinguishing landscape points or clearly identifiable way marks to show exactly where you are at that point. We recommend starting each clip by saying where you are and what your distance point is, then turn your phone to show your watch and legs and hold on this view for at least 20 seconds, then turn the phone to show some of the surrounding landscape. These clips will help verify that your speed and walking action at these points don’t significantly differ from your pace at other times.
We have thought long and hard as to how to measure fast walking speed accurately for a Sport Walking Trail Record to stand and prior recording of a walker’s potential maximum speed is the only realistic way we can see to verify that no running has taken place during the attempt. Given that ‘Speed Hiking’ is a key way by which people set FKT’s and that Speed Hiking allows running, it is essential for us to distinguish between this type of activity and Sport Walking which is purely a walking discipline.
If you can, please contact us using the Contact section of the blog, giving the detail of your planned record attempt and we will gladly help you with additional guidance and advice.