This summer, a Belgian ultra runner made trail running history when he ran the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in just 46 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes. This week, a new feature-length documentary was released detailing his extraordinary feat.
Karel Sabbe, a 33-year-old dentist from the city of Ghent, started at the Mexico border in July and averaged about 58 miles per day in his On Cloudultra 2 trail running shoes to reach Canada by the end of August. That's roughly two marathons every day in the time it would take most of us to learn how to do a pullup.
The previous record was set in 2021 by American runner Timothy Olson, who managed an impressive time of 51 days, 16 hours and 55 minutes, but Sabbe's ability to shave a full five days off the previous record is nothing less than astonishing, especially when you consider the gruelling conditions he had to run in.
"Over the years, I came to appreciate having a hard time in nature," says Sabbe, in the documentary, which you can watch below, adding "I know when you're doing something extremely hard, the rewards are big as well."
Sabbe is no stranger to the challenging trail – this was his third time doing the PCT –or the conditions out west, having volunteered at US National Parks in the past. However, triple digit temperatures, wildfires and historic snowpack on his journey provided ample challenge, and he admits his success was only made possible thanks to a crew of four who set up his tent, cooked his meals and helped with first aid.
The hour-long documentary was released by Backcountry on Youtube and is free to watch now.
What is the Pacific Crest Trail?
The PCT is a hiking and equestrian trail that roughly follows the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains near the west coast of the U.S. Travelling north, the trail spans the entire length of the U.S. from Mexico to Canada and takes hikers through California, Oregon and Washington.
The official start of the PCT is a California border town called Campo and its terminus is Manning Park in British Columbia. Though the PCT is near sea level in parts, much of it is at high altitude with its highest point being Forester Pass near Mount Whitney at 13,180ft.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.