DTR Ambassador, Patricia Franco, is a Colorado resident with a love for small towns and big mountains – we caught up with herbefore the FKT attempt in Nepal to tell us a little more about this epic journey!
Explain what you are attempting:
The Annapurna Circuit from Besi Sahar to Naya Pol runs about 135 miles with a whopping 53,000ft of elevation gain and just about as much elevation loss. Trekkers and guides will tell you it’s a 20+ day outing, but Seth Wolpin was able to set an FKT of 3 days and some change and Lizzy Hawker was able to do almost the whole route in 5 days for the female FKT.
I hope to finish the Annapurna in somewhere around 4 days time, though anything under 5 would be a new female FKT, which I’d still feel happy with.
How did this idea come up?
The idea of breaking this record came one cold Leadville winter night in Ryan’s (my boyfriend’s) camper. We were both tucked away in our sleeping bags trying to get some rest before a morning of skiing, but I had just purchased a ticket to Nepal for one month and was trying to figure out to see how I could see as much as possible while I was there.
My friend Rick, who manages a trekking company in Nepal (iTrek Nepal), had suggested the ThreePass Loop in the Everest Region–which looked absolutely incredible–and I figured if did that I’d still have some time to go to another region before my flight home. I was looking at statistics for the Annapurna Circuit when Ryan asked me, “What’s the FKT on that?”
I laughed and told him that I had no interest in attempting that, but I looked it up anyway. The more I read, the more it actually seemed not too far fetched to go for. It seemed as though Lizzy hadn’t given it a very serious attempt and that Seth felt his effort could easily be beaten, which got me shooting for a time somewhere between the two of their efforts.
What do you most enjoy about trail running? How has it impacted ur life?
Trail running has always been a hobby of mine, as I grew up running around in the rolling farmlands of New Hampshire with my dog happily in tow. I used to use running as an escape from a semi-troubled home life; I found myself running away when I was younger, only to find myself running toward a passion for the calm I was able to find in the outdoors as I grew older and began traveling away from home.
Running led to long distance hiking (which also began as an escape and transformed into a passion), and when I had to return to university after a four-month long journey on the Appalachian Trail in 2011, I plummeted into a dark depression that only trail running was able to relieve.
Running long distances competitively wasn’t something I began until I moved to Colorado to do trail work for the Colorado 14ers Initiative, when I truly fell in love with running in the mountains.
What I enjoy most about trail running is the space it gives me for reflection–I enjoy the embodied emotional highs and lows–the ones that radiate through your limbs.
What are the top essentials you need to complete this journey? Ex-gear, nutrition, etc.
The gear that I will bring for this attempt is minimal. I happen to have only brought the Ultimate Direction 30L pack because I needed to fit a sleeping by in there for the Three Pass Loop, but feel a 20L or smaller would’ve been more appropriate.
In that pack I will have:
20 Evo Hemp bars (200 calories each).
1 Down To Run Reach Your Peak Tech shirt
1 Smartwool long sleeve
1 ultralight Mammut hooded puffy
2 pairs of Pearl Izumi leggings (one thermal for the 17,000ft mountain pass, one not)
1 Buff wool hat
1 pair Arcteryx Mitt (for mountain Pass)
1 Ultimate Direction soft flask (17oz)
1 package water purification tablets
1 pair Salomon S-Lab Sense5 Soft Ground
3 pairs of Darn Tough Socks
1 pair Easton Carbon Fiber trekking polls (it’s a lot of up and down, the knees will thank me)
1 Goretex Marmot rain jacket
1 Fenix Headlamp (best on the market IMO–up to 900 lumens and lasts all night) with spare battery
1 Suunto Ambit R 2 watch to measure altitude, distance, etc,
And…some Snickers bars and money for tea houses along the way!