Traversing the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine is one of the most impressive tests of endurance in the United States. And now the A.T. has a new king. Ultra marathoner Karl Meltzer ran the 2190-mile trail in 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes finally reaching the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin at 3:38 Sunday morning in his third attempt to complete the run. Meltzer averaged almost 48 miles a day—a staggering distance to anyone who does little more than count steps on their FitBits. But also of note was his diet during the whole trip. According the New York Times, Meltzer subsisted on items like Red Bull, Tang, bacon, Three Musketeers bars and a regular beer nightcap. He also told Outside Magazine that he ate an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. And when he finally finished, he celebrated with a pepperoni pizza and more beer—a Yuengling.
Meltzer’s food choices sounds more like a college kid’s drunk cravings than an elite athlete’s energy plan, especially when compared to Scott Jurek, the man whose record he broke, who is a vegan. But he’s won more 100-mile races than anyone in history, so at this point he knows what works for him. And considering Meltzer’s daily distance and pace he should have been burning well over 5000 calories a day, so he could use whatever caloric help he could get.
Hopefully he’s throwing back another beer right now. He earned it.