Under covid restrictions we have seen a boom in the above in the UK, and I know the USA, Australia, China and more. The above is not only happening, but many also subtle attempts too which may have fallen under the radar. Jim Walmsley attempted a solo Hardrock 100 but was unfortunately forced to retire. In China, one of the biggest trail races, the Jiangnan 100, went ahead, but only for one sole runner. Professional Zhao Jiaju flew round the course to break the record. Damian Hall in the UK set a record barely a week after John Kelly took down the 268mile Pennine Way FKT, which previously had lasted over 20 years. European 6day champion and former 24hour Champion, Dan Lawson, pushed down the official record for the length of the UK of 874miles just days ago running for 9 days 21 hours and some change for the journey. So my question stands here. When is it an FKT (Fastest Known Time) or record and also Personal Best or Personal Record.
The tendency in the UK traditionally has been to call such feats as course records and FKT seems to have been adopted in the USA to acknowledge records over routes and courses. Increasingly, the words are becoming interchangeable depending on the person, tradition and context. Add in the complexities or supported, unsupported. To the outsider, I am not sure they would have a clear view of what has actually happened. Are course records now established to the confines of formal races, and FKT’s legitimate record attempts on a solo scale of specific routes even though they may well cross over with a race. I know from my own personal experience there was deliberation with an individual over the FKT or record of a route. One completed in a race and two hours faster than the one completed solo but with a support crew. Is it one thing or two separate recordings?
Another variable to throw in is the method of support. Damian Hall practically covered the whole of the Paddy Buckley round (Round of mountains in Snowdonia in Wales), a strenuous and inhospitable route, by himself with literally no one until the final couple of hours. If someone ran minutes quicker but with a whole crew would their time be considered superior? Where is the line? Are formal car stops with the boot loaded with goodies and crew serving your every need classified as supported but being given a drink or top ups informally by family members classified as unsupported?
Do records now need to be collabed with GPS tracker, recordings and photo evidence and if not will not be considered? However, past records stand just by the stamp of a local policeman or post office that the runner was there.
It is extremely complex and offers up a chain of questions and deliberations not only between the athletes themselves but also the wider community. I grew up using the term personal best but doesn’t personal record just sound that little bit more glorified?
With races gradually starting across the world in different forms of their original selves, I believe there will still be a gluttony of FKT attempts, record attempts, PR’s and PB’s, with
whatever result which comes from such an effort. None I believe should be lesser valued than the other. But rather the choice of diction be owned by any individual. I will let you make your own mind up.