NORTH TROY — Weather and an early injury forced R.J. Thompson, a 30-year-old runner from Stowe, to end his attempt at breaking a record this week.
Armed with only a cell phone, backpack, and basic eating and survival essentials, Thompson set out from North Troy on Tuesday, in the hopes of completing the length of the Long Trail in under six days, 17 hours, and 25 minutes.
At 273 miles, The Long Trail begins in North Troy, on the Vermont-Canadian border and winds its way through the Green Mountain range, following the Appalachian Trail for about 100 miles before finishing just outside of Williamstown, Massachusetts.
On a mission to break the trail record, Thompson needed to cover 45 miles per day. He needed to spend 15 to 16 hours running each day, and he had to do this with no personnel support, carrying his own food and water. As challenging as this seems, in the end, the weather became the biggest challenge Thompson faced.
“I could deal with an injury or bad weather, but both at the same time crushed me,” Thompson wrote to his supporters as he announced he had to end the record attempt.
On the third day Thompson slipped during his descent down Bolton Mountain in the rain, which ended up injuring his knee. Determined not to let anything stop him from reaching his goal, Thompson pushed on. The pain and swelling in his knee forced him to stop in 30 minute intervals to stretch. He was able to finish his third day eight miles ahead of pace, despite the injury.
While camping that night at Birch Glen, he had hoped that by morning his knee would start to feel better. After waking up at 3:30 a.m. to start the day he faced more rain, and trail conditions had gone from bad to worse.
“My knee had deteriorated to the point where I needed to stretch it every 10 to 15 minutes, and the condition of the trail resembled a small brook, water everywhere,” Thompson said.
It was a difficult decision for Thompson to call off the attempt, but he risked further injuring himself if he continued.
He is planning to release a full account of his experience, which includes a close encounter with a black bear along the way.
“I cannot express how grateful I am to have the support of so many wonderful people, both in real life and here on Facebook. Your comments and words of encouragement undoubtedly carried me over Vermont’s highest summits.”
To follow along with any updates on Thompson’s journey, visit his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/thelongtrailrunAre you on Instagram? Cool. So are we. CLICK HERE to follow us for a behind the scenes look at Newport Dispatch.