Michael Cohen secretly taped Donald Trump in 2016

Karl Meltzer runs from Maine to Ga., drinking beer and eating bacon

Setting out each morning with his pockets full of bacon and finishing each evening with a few beers, ultra-marathoner Karl Meltzer ran his 45-day race from Maine to Georgia his own way.

“I just needed calories,” said Meltzer, 48, explaining the diet of candy bars and sausage that fueled his gallop along the length of the Appalachian Trail. Looking hungry, but satisfied, Meltzer bathed in a post-race glow Monday evening, gobbling appetizers of french fries and foi gras at a Little Five Points beer pub called The Porter.

He was joined in the pub’s basement eating room Monday by members of his support team and representatives of the energy drink Red Bull, which he guzzled along the way; Red Bull underwrote part of the cost of his feat.

With his grizzled beard and hollow cheeks, Meltzer, at 141 pounds, looked no more gaunt than most 100-mile runners, but his accomplishment was the equivalent of running 20 of those ultra-marathons in a row.

Meltzer ran and hiked the 2,190-mile length of the Appalachian Trail in 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes, the fastest known time for a supported race. He reached Springer Mountain in North Georgia, the southern terminus of the trail, at 3:38 Sunday morning, then slipped off down the mountain for a pizza and a well-deserved rest.

Because his race was “supported,” Meltzer carried no tent, no sleeping bag, no stove, none of the usual encumbrances of the AT hiker, nothing but a fanny-pack with a few changes of socks and 36 ounces of water.

(This writer took a very different hike in 1995, and again last summer.)

His colleagues, including his father Karl Sr., 73, (who the team calls “Senior”) and his driver and collaborator Eric Belz, paralleled the trail in a white Ford Econoline van, and met Meltzer on the trail several times each day, bringing water, food and dry shoes. Each evening Meltzer (nicknamed “Speedgoat”) would meet Belz at a pre-appointed spot on the trail, hike to a nearby parking area, eat a supper cooked by his minders, and sleep in the van. Each morning at 4 a.m. the alarm would wake Meltzer and he’d be off and running by 5, navigating in the darkness with the aid of a headlamp.

(A marvelous account in a blog by Andy Jones-Wilkins demonstrates how Meltzer spent almost every resting moment shoving food in his mouth, “like an IV drip.”)

A one-time ski-resort bartender who lives in Sandy, Utah, Meltzer has won more 100-mile races than anyone on the planet, but has failed twice before in attempts at the AT record. He kept the previous record-holder, Scott Jurek, in mind as he traveled along the spine of the east coast during the last six weeks, calculating from moment to moment whether he was ahead or behind.

Last summer Jurek notched a fastest-ever south-to-north through-hike of 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. Amazingly, Jurek helped with the destruction of that record, supporting Meltzer with advice and literally lighting Meltzer’s way during the last 30 miles of Georgia darkness, from Neels Gap to Springer Mountain. He walked behind Meltzer, carrying a 300-lumen torch to shine on the trail ahead.

“It was so inspiring to have Scott on my side,” said Meltzer, glancing up at a monitor that showed a loop of highlights of the Meltzer trip. Red Bull detailed Meltzer’s journey with a blog and an upcoming video documentary.

The online community hasn’t been 100 percent in favor of the corporate-sponsored feat. Among the commenters on a New York Times story on Meltzer was a “brad jacobson” of Cleveland, who said Meltzer’s race was a “stupid” stunt, and that Meltzer missed the beautiful vistas in his hurry: “Like doing the Uffizi gallery in twenty minutes.”

Others mentioned that in 2015 Heather “Anish” Anderson, a Seattle woman nicknamed “The Ghost,” completed the hike in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes, with no support but her own gumption.

Meltzer says he respects Anderson’s accomplishment, as he respects the through-hikers who take a more leisurely 6-month pace. Of the criticisms, he says “I enjoy it my way and they enjoy it their way.”

His most impressive moment on the trail may have been the last 83 miles, from Deep Gap, North Carolina to Springer, which he traveled in a single 23-hour slog. “I have an 83-mile run in me anytime I need to do it,” he said.

What’s next? It will take him several weeks to recover, said Meltzer, but he plans a speed-golfing competition later this year (he once shot 230 holes in 12 hours.) And later that Monday evening? “We’re probably going to a bar somewhere,” he smiled.

Other Geoorgia hikers.

Danger on the trail.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Fulton holding another event to help people expunge arrest records
Fulton holding another event to help people expunge arrest records

Fulton County wants to help clear arrests, charges and minor blemishes from citizens’ criminal records through a free expungement event on Aug. 11. People who have been arrested for misdemeanors, but not convicted, by the Fulton County Sheriff, Fulton County Police Department or any of the 15 cities in Fulton County, are eligible for the event...
At least 17 dead in duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, officials say
At least 17 dead in duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, officials say

At least 17 people were killed and several others injured after a duck boat carrying tourists capsized Thursday night on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  Update 11:40 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Friday morning that authorities recovered four more bodies...
DeKalb County set to move on ‘Brunch Bill’ vote
DeKalb County set to move on ‘Brunch Bill’ vote

DeKalb County is expected to join the list of Georgia locales where residents will get a chance to approve earlier Sunday alcohol sales. In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the “Brunch Bill” that allows voters to decide if adult beverages can be sold in their county or municipality at 11 a.m. on Sunday instead of 12:30 p...
Top local runoff elections in metro Atlanta
Top local runoff elections in metro Atlanta

The Atlanta metro area will see a series of runoff elections on Tuesday, as several primary races in May resulted with no candidate receiving a majority of the vote. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has put together a list of some of the most important local races, from judgeships to county boards. Board of Commissioners District 7 Incumbent Gregory...
BREAKING: Alleged hate crime under investigation in Kennesaw 
BREAKING: Alleged hate crime under investigation in Kennesaw 

A Hispanic man was attacked outside a bar and Kennesaw police said Friday they are treating the case as a hate crime. The 26-year-old man was at SuBourbon Bar in the 2700 block of Summers Street between 11:50 p.m. Friday and 12:30 a.m. Saturday when two white males began making “derogatory racial remarks” toward him, authorities said...
More Stories