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Kristian Morgan Appalachian Trail

Unleashing the Limits: Kristian Morgan's Epic Fastest Known Time on the Appalachian Trail

A map with fastest known time written on it being held in front a long path.
Fastest Known Time

Introduction to Kristian Morgan

Kristian Morgan is an accomplished ultra-runner, podcaster, and coach who recently achieved the fastest known time (FKT) on the Appalachian Trail in 2023. His background in endurance sports is extensive, with over 120 ultras and marathons under his belt. Morgan first discovered his passion for running growing up in the Australian outback, where he won his first marathon at age 23.

Since then, he has amassed an impressive record, consistently placing in the top 10 in competitive ultramarathon races across the globe. His mental and physical resilience has enabled him to push through grueling courses stretching over 100 miles. As a pacer in 2018, Morgan supported Karel Sabbe’s successful FKT attempt on the Appalachian Trail, an experience that inspired his own record-breaking run just a few years later.

Recent FKT Achievement

In 2023 at age 37, Morgan achieved the fastest self-supported time on the iconic Appalachian Trail, covering the 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine in 42 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. This remarkable feat beats previous speed records and establishes Morgan as one of the top ultra-runners taking on the Appalachian Trail.

To prepare for the physical and mental demands of the course, he followed an intense training regimen focused on building endurance, strength and resilience. During his FKT attempt, Morgan overcame injuries, illness and sleep deprivation, exemplifying the determination required for such an incredible athletic accomplishment.

His record has earned accolades from the ultrarunning community and cemented his legacy. However, Morgan remains focused on coaching other runners, promoting the sport through his podcast and achieving new goals in long-distance trail running.

Kristian's Early Beginnings

Kristian Morgan's passion for running began at a young age, sparked by the wide open spaces of the Australian outback where he grew up. As a child, Kristian would explore the rugged landscape around his family's cattle station by foot, sometimes running for miles at a time. These early adventures instilled in him a deep love of movement and the outdoors.

After high school, Kristian continued running recreationally. However, it wasn't until age 23 when he entered his first marathon on a whim that he discovered his talent for long distances. Despite minimal training, Kristian won the marathon decisively. This first taste of victory opened his eyes to the possibility of pursuing running more seriously.

The Outback Upbringing

Spending his formative years on a massive, remote cattle station in the Australian wilderness shaped Kristian's gritty determination. Running through the outback as a child not only gave him confidence in his physical abilities, but also cultivated resilience in the face of adversity. This rugged upbringing prepared him well for the demands of ultra-running later in life.

A Surprise Marathon Win

When Kristian Morgan crossed the finish line first at that small marathon at age 23, it catalyzed his competitive running career. The unexpected win demonstrated his natural talent and potential in the sport, despite his very limited training. This triumph motivated Kristian to take his running more seriously, leading him to pursue ultramarathons and eventually a fastest known time on the iconic Appalachian Trail.

A Marathon of Marathons

Kristian Morgan has built an impressive resume of ultra and marathon accomplishments over his long career. With over 120 ultras and marathons under his belt, Kristian has shown incredible dedication to the sport of long distance running.

Celebrating Kristian's Dedication to Ultra Running

Completing over 120 ultras and marathons is a remarkable achievement. It requires years of consistent training, racing, recovery, and sacrifice. Kristian's ability to compete at a high level in so many events is a testament to his work ethic and unwavering commitment to ultra running.

Very few runners are able to string together such an extensive race schedule and continue performing at a elite level. Kristian's body of work should be celebrated as an incredible display of human endurance and longevity in the sport.

Kristian's Exceptional Race Performances

In addition to the sheer volume of Kristian's ultra accomplishments, he has also notched numerous impressive race finishes and top 10 placings over the years.

Some of his notable achievements include:

  • 1st place at the 2011 Glasshouse 100 Miler
  • 2nd place at the 2012 Western States 100
  • Top 10 finishes at Hardrock 100, Leadville 100, and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

These results demonstrate that Kristian has not just been running races to rack up numbers. He has performed exceptionally well against top competition on some of the toughest ultra courses.

Kristian's race pedigree underscores his versatility, durability, and capacity to endure immense physical and mental challenges over 100+ mile distances.

The Appalachian Trail Southbound FKT

In 2023, accomplished ultra-runner Kristian Morgan achieved a historic southbound Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the entire Appalachian Trail. His official time for completing the 2,190 mile trail from Maine to Georgia was an astonishing 38 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes.

This breaks the previous southbound supported FKT held by legendary runner Karl Meltzer, who set a time of 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes back in 2016. Kristian took over 7 days off Meltzer's time, setting a new high benchmark for supported southbound efforts on the Appalachian Trail.

The Rigors of the Route

The Appalachian Trail is considered one of the toughest long distance trails in the world. Winding through 14 states from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, it subject runners to over a half million feet of elevation gain and loss.

The terrain varies from rugged mountain ranges to swampy bogs, bringing unpredictable weather conditions spanning all four seasons. With its remote stretches and punishing climbs, the AT has crushed many a hopeful FKT dreams.

A Testament to Training

For Kristian Morgan to complete the AT nearly a week faster than anyone in history speaks volumes about his preparation. His rigorous training program focused on building strength in his legs and core to handle the relentless ascents and descents.

He also worked on mental stamina through visualization, positive self-talk, and overcoming inner doubts. Kristian approached his record attempt with laser focus, allowing no setbacks or distractions to throw him off pace enroute to rewriting the FKT history books.

His astonishing southbound achievement will no doubt inspire future generations of runners to push their limits on the iconic Appalachian Trail route.

Training for Triumph

Kristian's preparation for his record-breaking Appalachian Trail FKT attempt was nothing short of Herculean. He trained for over a year, gradually building up his mileage and endurance through a combination of long trail runs, strength training, and meticulous planning.

His weekly training regimen included multiple 30+ mile trail runs in the mountains near his home in London, frequently with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. He also incorporated 2-3 strength training sessions per week focused on core and lower body exercises to prevent injury on the rugged Appalachian terrain.

Rigorous Physical Preparation

In addition to the hundreds of miles logged on technical trails, Kristian simulated the conditions of a thru-hike by doing multi-day back-to-back long runs. His longest training run was 120 miles over 3 days in the Lake District. This put both his physical endurance and his capacity to make sound decisions while fatigued through intense tests.

Kristian also researched the entire Appalachian Trail route in depth, analyzing elevation profiles, water sources, shelter locations, and potential pacing/crewing access points. His diligent preparation ensured he knew what to expect when he arrived at the trail.

Building Mental Toughness

While physical training was critical, Kristian knew that success on an endeavor like the AT FKT attempt largely comes down to mental fortitude. To strengthen his ability to endure adversity, he frequently ran overnight or in poor weather conditions during training.

He also visualized himself overcoming obstacles on the trail through meditation and positive self-talk. By training his mind to stay focused amid discomfort, Kristian developed the grit and determination to push through low points on his record-setting journey.

Pacing and Support on the Trail

Kristian Morgan's experience pacing ultra-runner Karel Sabbe during his 2018 Appalachian Trail speed record attempt provided invaluable insight into the demands of setting a Fastest Known Time (FKT). Running alongside Sabbe for nearly 1,000 miles over rocky and technical terrain, Morgan gained firsthand knowledge of the physical and mental fortitude required to complete the trail at such a relentless pace.

The Art of Effective Pacing

An experienced pacer like Morgan can provide much-needed motivation, nutrition, and navigation assistance to the runner attempting to set an FKT. Pacers help monitor the runner's condition, keep them on the optimal route, and provide real-time feedback on pace. Morgan applied these critical support skills when pacing Sabbe on his record-setting 2018 run.

Crew Support Critical for Success

In addition to dedicated pacers, a support crew is vital for FKT attempts on challenging routes like the Appalachian Trail. Support vehicles transport gear and supplies to strategic points along the trail. Crew members prepare food, monitor data, assist with navigation, and attend to the runner's needs - allowing the runner to focus solely on forward progress. Morgan's expert crew, led by brother-in-law Joren Biebuyck, was instrumental in his successful 2023 FKT.

Drawing from his firsthand experience pacing Sabbe and subsequently setting his own FKT with an expert support crew, Morgan recognizes the invaluable role effective pacing and support plays in ultra-running. His accomplishment underscores the teamwork and selfless commitment required for success in such monumental physical endeavors.

Overcoming Mental and Physical Barriers

Kristian faced immense mental and physical challenges during his record-breaking Appalachian Trail attempt. The sheer distance and elevation gain takes an incredible toll both mentally and physically. However, Kristian's experience and preparation enabled him to push through.

Pushing Through Physical Fatigue and Injury

Completing over 50 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain daily for weeks on end leads to extreme fatigue. Kristian battled painful chafing and foot injuries. However, his rigorous training had prepared his body to withstand the punishment. He focused on self-care like managing blisters and consuming calories. Kristian's mental toughness and resilience pushed him through the pain.

Overcoming Mental Obstacles and Solitude

The solitude of the trail can be mentally taxing. Kristian spent many long days alone with his thoughts. However, he embraced the simplicity, finding flow in the movement. Kristian filled lonely nights under the stars with audio books. He focused on the incremental progress, turning to his support crew during difficult moments. Kristian's positive mindset and experience overcame the emotional toll.

Lessons in Resilience from Kristian's Journey

Kristian's journey illustrates the resilience required in ultra-running. He demonstrates that with dedication and smart training, we can accomplish feats beyond perceived limits. Kristian's FKT reminds us that when we embrace self-care and lean on community, we can overcome monumental mental and physical barriers. His triumphant story is an inspiration. 

Kristian's Coaching Philosophy

Kristian Morgan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to coaching ultrarunners through his website kristianultra.com. As an accomplished athlete with over 120 ultramarathons under his belt, Kristian understands firsthand the dedication and grit required to succeed in such grueling events.

At the core of Kristian's coaching philosophy is tailoring training plans to each individual. He recognizes that every athlete comes with their own strengths, weaknesses, and goals. By getting to know his clients on a personal level, Kristian can develop customized regimens to help them meet their objectives.

Emphasizing Recovery and Injury Prevention

While pushing physical limits is part and parcel of ultrarunning, Kristian emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery. His training plans incorporate adequate off days, cross training, and strength routines to help avoid overtraining injuries. As Kristian notes, "You can only ask the body to do so much before it breaks down."

Kristian Morgan | Bud & Tender

Cultivating Mental Toughness

Having battled through his own mental demons during races, Kristian understands that success in ultrarunning requires as much psychological strength as physical endurance. His coaching instills core tenets of mental toughness in his athletes:

  • Embracing suffering - "The pain is temporary, the achievement is forever."
  • Staying present - "Don't dwell on the miles ahead, just focus on each step."
  • Belief in self - "You've put in the training, now it's time to trust your body and mind."

Community Support

While Kristian offers personalized coaching, he also fosters community among his athletes. His private Facebook group connects clients across the globe to share advice, race stories, and inspiration. Kristian remarks, "We all experience the highs and lows. Having others along for the journey makes it more rewarding."

For those looking to push their limits in ultrarunning, Kristian Morgan provides the blueprint for success through his expertise, empathy, and community-building.

The Ultra-Running Community's Response

Kristian Morgan's record-breaking Appalachian Trail FKT has sent shockwaves through the ultra-running community. His astonishing time of 41 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes has smashed the previous southbound supported record by nearly 4 days. Reactions have poured in celebrating Kristian's monumental achievement.

"We are absolutely thrilled for Kristian and his remarkable accomplishment," said Scott Jurek, one of the sport's most decorated legends. "For years we've all wondered just how fast a supported effort on the AT could be, and Kristian has emphatically shown us all. His grit and determination over the past 6 weeks is incredibly inspiring."

Other prominent members of the ultra world chimed in with praise and congratulations as well. Jenn Shelton, elite runner and coach, hailed it as "one of the most impressive displays of mental fortitude and physical ability I've ever seen." Joe Grant, U.S. mountain runner, simply stated he was "in awe" of what Kristian was able to achieve.

Celebrating Camaraderie and Support

While Kristian's individual effort has rightfully claimed the spotlight, his record attempt also highlights the tight-knit community and support system behind many FKT endeavors. Kristian specifically thanked his crew of pacers and volunteers that joined him along the way, keeping his spirits high through difficult stretches on the trail.

"I could never have done this without the small army of folks backing me every step of the way," Kristian remarked. "They kept me moving forward when the going got tough. The camaraderie and selflessness amongst the ultra community is really special."

That spirit of support and community is a hallmark of the sport. Top performers like Kristian Morgan continue to inspire new generations to push their limits, while emphasizing values of encouragement and service to others. It's part of what makes the ultra realm so captivating for participants and fans alike.

"We cheer each other on, we lift each other up, we band together," said elite runner Nikki Kimball. "Kristian's run exemplifies all of that. His performance is uplifting and I can't wait to see what he'll take on next. The sky's the limit."

Beyond the FKT – Other Notable Achievements

Kristian Morgan's Appalachian Trail FKT is certainly a crowning achievement, but it is far from his only notable accomplishment. Throughout his career, Kristian has demonstrated exceptional versatility and range across various ultra races and feats of endurance.

Diverse Race Victories

While Kristian is now best known as a trail and mountain runner, he first made his name dominating road races. He won his first marathon at age 23, and went on to notch victories at races of all distances up to 100 miles. Some highlights include wins at the Glasshouse 100 Miler, the Surf Coast Century 100km, and the Brisbane Trail Ultra 50km.

Australia's Ultra Trail World Tour

Kristian has been a fixture atop Australian ultrarunning podiums for years. He has finished in the top 10 at the majority of Australia's premiere trail ultras that make up the Ultra Trail World Tour circuit. This includes top 5 finishes at the Buffalo Stampede SkyMarathon, the Great North Walk 100km, and the Wonderland Run.

Running Across Australia

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Kristian ran solo across the entire Australian continent in 2017. He covered over 2,000 miles from west to east coast completely self-supported. The journey took him 2 months through searing deserts and lush rainforests, further cementing his status as one of Australia's toughest runners.

While Kristian's Appalachian Trail FKT will be the feat that defines his career, his consistency and versatility across different races and challenges demonstrate that he is so much more than a one-hit wonder. Kristian Morgan is simply one of the world's best all-around ultra runners.

What's Next for Kristian Morgan

After his historic Appalachian Trail FKT, Kristian Morgan shows no signs of slowing down. He has several ambitious plans lined up for the future, giving readers plenty to anticipate as they follow his ongoing ultra-running journey.

Writing a Book

One of Kristian's upcoming projects is writing a book about his experiences and insights from a lifetime in ultra-running. He plans to delve deep into his mental and physical preparation, recount memorable races, and share advice for aspiring ultrarunners. The book will provide an inside look into Kristian's accomplished career.

Future Ultra Events

In addition to writing, Kristian aims to compete in several prominent ultra races over the next few years. His calendar includes the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and Badwater 135. Given his exceptional performances in the past, Kristian will likely contend for top finishes at these prestigious events.

Continued Coaching

Through his website kristianultra.com, Kristian provides personalized training plans and one-on-one coaching to ultrarunners of all ability levels. As his reputation grows from his AT achievement, he anticipates increased interest in his coaching services. Kristian is eager to share his expertise to help others find success in such an extreme sport.

Ambassador and Advocate

Having solidified his status as an ultra-running legend, companies will likely seek out Kristian as a sponsored athlete and ambassador. He hopes to leverage this platform to promote the sport he loves and serve as an inspiring role model. Kristian strives to build camaraderie in the global ultra community.

With his relentless drive and wealth of experience, Kristian Morgan's impact on ultra-running seems far from over. His ambitious plans for writing, racing, coaching and advocating promise to further motivate the next generation of extreme endurance athletes.


In summary, Kristian Morgan's recent fastest known time achievement on the Appalachian Trail is truly remarkable. By completing the 2,190 mile trail in just 41 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes, he has set a new southbound record and proven himself as one of the greatest ultra-runners of our time.

His rigorous physical and mental preparation, sheer determination in overcoming obstacles, and the support of his crew highlight what it takes to accomplish such an audacious goal. Kristian's FKT builds upon years of experience as an accomplished marathoner and ultra-runner.

Beyond celebrating individual records, Kristian's journey underscores the camaraderie and inspiration that the ultra-running community provides to its members. His own coaching philosophy and mentorship transfers lessons from his personal success to help aspiring athletes.

Readers can continue to follow Kristian's upcoming endeavors through his website, podcasts, and social media. His book writing and future events will likely motivate more people to push their limits. Kristian Morgan shows us that with the right mindset and grit, we can unleash our full potential.