In mid-June, ultrarunner Brittany Peterson woke up on the Superior Hiking Trail just north of Duluth and something wasn’t right.
Peterson, a Carlton native, and her boyfriend — fellow ultrarunner Cody Lind — had begun an attempt June 17 at a fastest known time (FKT) for a thru-hike of the SHT and had done nearly 60 miles in some of the hottest weather conditions of the month. The pair need to average just over 60 miles per day to complete the more than 300 mile route from rural Carlton County to the Canadian border near Hovland to set a new record.
The pair got done about 10 p.m. and Peterson knew she was dehydrated, but the grueling day also left her longing for sleep and she didn’t do the “greatest job” replenishing her fluids. The next morning they were back on the trail just after 3 a.m.
“I started my morning by puking and then subsequently peeing blood,” Peterson said. “After reflecting on it, I think I was just so high on electrolytes and it took me a little while to figure that out. There were a couple mistakes where I just needed straight water and, obviously, my body was not happy.”
As the pair continued on the trail, they got Peterson’s hydration issues settled, they fell into a rhythm and conditions began to improve.
“The middle section of the whole Superior Hiking Trail went really well — we were right on pace,” Lind said. “Yeah, we were tired and it’s never ending rolling up and down, technical terrain, but we were moving very well and eating very well. Then as we got further north, it was starting to be much cooler.”
Lind had his own difficult moment when he felt some tightness in his knee in the last 100 miles, particularly on downhill sections, forcing them to walk more than run much of the time.
“Then we just kind of accepted it,” Lind said. “We knew we were well under five days and that we were going to get the record as long as we just kept moving efficiently and doing everything that we were doing.”
The pair made it to the SHT Northern Terminus in just four days and 9 hours, breaking the previous FKT by approximately 18 hours.
Peterson and Lind had a full slate of races they planned to compete in this summer — including the Canyons 100K, Western States Endurance Run and several skyrunning races in Europe — but the coronavirus pandemic canceled all their plans.
Instead of those races, Peterson and Lind chose to drive from their home in Idaho to make the attempt on the SHT. The plan brought Peterson back to Carlton for the first time in about a decade. Peterson said she had passed through the town on her way to a race about five years ago, but hadn’t spent any time there for much longer.
Peterson said she found that Carlton had begun to embrace its location on the doorstep of Jay Cooke State Park. She also felt a flood of memories come back as she passed through town and scouted trails for the couple’s FKT attempt.
“It's been forever since I've driven on Highway 210 from Black Bear Casino and then go past the Four Seasons into town,” she said. “I was just remembering all the road loops that we used to do in high school and piecing the roadwork back together and just kind of clearing out cobwebs.”
The couple also had some familiar faces on the trail supporting the adventure in Peterson’s father, Steve; brother, Michael; and Michael’s girlfriend crewing for them.
“Their experience with crewing is pretty minimal and that was a huge undertaking for your first real crewing experience,” Peterson said. “I thought it was so special to have them rise to the occasion and surpass our wildest expectations of how awesome they could be at crewing for us.”
This story was updated on at 8:10 a.m. July 29 with additional photos from Peterson and Lind's completion of the FKT. It was originally posted at 6 a.m. July 29.