Lael Wilcox Establishes New FKT* for the 800-Mile Arizona Trail


Lael Wilcox Establishes New FKT* for the 800-Mile Arizona Trail

We are beyond excited to report that after 9 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes our dear friend Lael Wilcox has established a new overall fastest known time for the 800-mile Arizona Trail Individual Time Trial*!

Tackling the Arizona Trail at a record-setting pace, from the Mexico border to the Utah state line, is one of the most grueling cycling challenges in the world and we couldn’t be more excited for Lael’s accomplishment. In the coming weeks, we’ll be featuring a full report from Lael’s time on the trail in addition to a short film from Rue Kaladyte. In the meantime, head over to Lael’s Instagram and send her a virtual high-five!

Edited on 4.23.2022 for clarity: We have correspondences with John Schilling, the organizer of the AZTR, where he reached out to Rue, the videographer and Lael’s wife about the media rule. Lael and Rue accept the * by their time for breaking the media coverage rule implemented in 2019. Previous records still stand.

89 responses to “Lael Wilcox Establishes New FKT* for the 800-Mile Arizona Trail”

  1. Truly a monumental achievement! Incredible mental and physical strength, again, displayed by the GOAT.

    Screw the purist questioning the books; this is what legit badassery looks like.

  2. Lael for the win! Such an impressive feat, and a real inspiration!

  3. Congrats to Lael on a magnificent ride and a new FKT. Outstanding!

    We also should respect and recognize the current and still existing course records held by the two below. In this day and age of cancel everything and burn it to the ground let’s not make being a purist something negative. There is a very good reason races like the AZT and CTR do not recognize record attempts that have film crews as solo self supported records.

    Men: Nate Ginzton – 9d 10h 44m (2021)
    Women: Chase Edwards – 10d 18h 59m (2021)

    • Exactly. Amazing ride, great effort. 🙌🏼👏🏼 Not a self-supported race record. The AZTR rules are explicitly clear. 🤷🏽‍♀️

      • Hey Liz, the organizer has falsely accused Rue and Josh (our editor) of assisting her in “other ways” – without evidence and the “no media” rule was added during the whole TDR2019 thing – which was also about Lael having a documentary made about her by her partner, Rue, so I’m afraid there’s more going on here (like always). In my opinion, one person shouldn’t be making “rules” and for sure shouldn’t be going around enforcing them online. Lael receives a lot of harmful messaging during these times and I think we, as a “community” can be and do better.

        Someone on Twitter put it well:

        “How do we expect to cultivate ultra endurance talent if the best in the world cannot at least make a living documenting their athletic achievements. It’s not like you can have a normal job and perform at that level.”

        … and besides, is the organizer going around and checking people’s phones for FaceTime/phone calls to their loved ones?

    • I have been a little curious, when you say “There is a very good reason . . . ” What is the “very good reason” ?

        • I have seen this play out in Freeride MTB with Dark Fest and the Fest series. Organizers of the series were peeved that individual riders were publishing event going-on to their own social media (YouTube, etc) and profiting off of that. The organizers of the Fest Series preferred to keep the events “core” and felt that the publicity somehow lessens the “core”-ness of their activities.
          I wonder if the AZT is not willing to give up their ability to take advantage of publicizing that and someone who completes the route with a film crew now has greater ability to capitalize on their own accomplishments.

          • Well the AZT isn’t involved. The AZTR – one guy – is. But he doesn’t profit off the event and puts a lot of time into it. I’m not denying the amount of work he’s doing but his messaging to Josh/Rue seems biased and he is selectively enforcing the “rule” we’re all talking about. The same thing happened on the TDR in 2019. Other racers had media crews documenting them but only Lael/Rue got called out.

    • I’m bummed that there’s nothing for me to enjoy viewing from those two amazing rides…

    • So “Free Solo” negated Alex Honnold’s achievements? Gotcha. Lots of sports/communities have removed the media regulations. It’s time for cycling and its gatekeepers do the same.

      • Not at all. There is no rule in climbing about having a film crew. The rules of the AZTR, CTR or TD are there for all to read.

        • So the organizer (who is not a professional journalist) can document the previous record holder at various points on the course and talk to/interact with them but a professional journalist who doesn’t speak or interact with the racer they are documenting can’t?

          Do the finishers hand over their phones and are their phones examined for FaceTime calls to their loved ones? Then the organizer can falsely accuse without evidence that the journalists on course “assisted Lael” in “other ways” too? Got it.

          Seems like the “rules” are in need of an overhaul and it sounds like there is bias at play here.

          • The good thing about documenting Lael is the outreach and all the positivity that it brings. Maybe her time will be beat but documentation will mean her legacy lives on. She’s the best!!

          • Phones are a level playing field. Everyone has one. They can be used for safety or to call a loved one. A film crew is not.

            There is an emotional support component to having your own film crew on course. Solo self supported racing is a mind game. The mental component is perhaps the biggest thing. A film crew provides a mental boost for the sponsored rider. I think this should be allowed for FKT attempts within a new category but the records remains for the truly solo unsupported riders.

          • There is a lot of speculation in your opinions. I shoot races. The racers don’t even notice you when you’re a pro like Rue and Josh are. You’re not stopping them, yelling at them, or engaging. Journalistic integrity exists for a reason.

          • Well there is a lot of speculation in your opinions as well – you shoot races. You have no experience as a solo long distance self supported racer so how would you actually know what that the mental effect of having your own film crew actually is? Look I get it. You are trying to sell something as is the sponsored rider. A new category should exist for FKT that allows for commercial interests.

          • Fewer rules than this? Which ones would you remove? People can ride these routes with zero rules any day of the year. If they want to break a record or record an official time then they agree to the 7 rules below.

            1. Complete the entire route, under your own power
            2. No support crews, this includes pre-arranged camera/media crews.
            3. No caches
            4. No motorized transport or hitch-hiking
            5. Gear – Nothing required, nothing prohibited
            6. No Pacers
            7. No eBikes

          • Who benefits from the No camera crew rule? I understand support crews and the other rules, but a camera crew that does not interact with a rider doesn’t have an effect. Lael would not have been a minute slower nor faster if the film crew wasn’t there. So who is benefiting from this rule? All the other rules have a direct effect on the outcome except that rule.

          • Perhaps the one you seem to be so adamant about? You know, the media one. The one that every other sport removed from competition after dealing with similar crap (thru-hiking, running, swimming, surfing, etc etc etc) You know, the one that enables a story to be shared, to inspire, and the one that stymies community building.

          • So there was no engagement when they shot the photo of her packing up inside the post office?

          • I agree. I love the product Lael and Rue create, it’s brilliant. I love the product you’ve produced going back to your blog. I’m a fan through and through.
            But this niche within a niche of the sport of cycling was born from the inspiration of a few adventurous souls. They assigned a few rules dictated the official route and challenged the world to test ourselves. Over the years lots of people have attempted to change the rules to suit their strengths, preferences, needs, etc. They’ve all been rebuked. People are on the hunt for those who seek to change the rules to suit their needs. It’s the self-governing of the sport that has been happening for two decades. Ignoring a rule of the race is the same as not following the official route. Would there be a debate if she missed a turn and cut the course by 5 miles in error? It too is a clear precedent for relegation.
            Let’s not divide ourselves over this. Bikes bring us together and we should celebrate that. This was an amazing human accomplishment which happened to be outside the rules that were set forth. Lael, if you read this, congratulations on an amazing effort. Only a few hundred people on earth likely understand how hard that was. Much love –

          • I think the bigger issue is the rule is selectively enforced and Lael/Rue seem to bear the brunt of that selectivity in a public forum. The AZTR IG post is very misleading and dishonest. He said Rue and Josh assisted Lael in “other ways” and misled the public to think they did.

          • You’re comparing an apple to a marble. Two totally different type of events. They are not even in the same zones. One you are TOTALLY SELF SUPPORTED, the other one has support and racers are encouraged to help other riders if they are able.

            The rules clearly say no media crews. You keep saying the rules are selectively being applied which is clearly false.

            No support crews, this includes pre-arranged camera/media crews. The AZTR views this as support. Feel free to self-document all you like. If you want a camera crew to document your ride, either do it on your own or expect an *, no record times will be noted for media support.

          • The rules are just in place so that richer riders or sponsored riders with more resources don’t have advantages over riders with fewer resources. There’s no bias in the rules.

          • It’s funny that the rules are in place and she’s stated she was doing the AZT race but you’re the one complaining about the rules being applied. You’re more than welcome to go start your own race and create your own rules. Let’s see how long that last when you discover how much it cost you out of your own pocket.

          • Hi. No thanks. I’ve thrown many races and events and am well aware of the work. I’ve also been running this site solo for 15 years so…

            I’m saying if those are the rules then perhaps the organizer shouldn’t be breaking them himself…

          • Sounds like everything else going on these days – “Rules for thee and not for me.”

    • The idea that you can judge the amount of emotional support that having a “film crew” (I use this term loosely as having two journalists, who don’t interact with a rider on course really doesn’t seem like a film crew) and set rules based around that is ludicrous. What is and serves as emotional support comes down to the individual and seems a silly thing to base “official” records on.

      • Have you ever done a self supported bike packing event over 200 miles?

          • Then you of all people should know the difference in mindset knowing you have someone to talk to at x spot throughout the entire event. The rule is there for a reason. Everyone knows the rules. the spirit of self supported bike packing races is the challenge between you and your own mind. If she wanted everything documented she could do the documenting herself.

          • If they didn’t interact with her, how’d they get her 1am taco order receipt to a take a photo of then?

  4. I have a couple of ignorant questions. Who owns the AZT? Who owns the rights to AZTR? If someone rides the entirety of the AZT without outside assistance, why is that not a FKT on the AZT? This speaks to the point regarding Alex Honnold’s free solo climb of Freerider. Why do one person’s rules dictate the success, failure, or official recognition of these independent efforts? It all seems pretty straightforward. You start at one end and finish in the other. If you are not getting logistical support, I don’t see what the issue is? How is this different from a FKT on White Rim or Kokopelli?

    • Nick, you’ve really hit the nail on the head. The AZT is public. There is no AZTR committee, it’s not private property, etc. AZTR doesn’t own Trackleaders, etc. This is one guy making a rule and enforcing it selectively.

    • is the non-profit stewardship organization that maintains and builds the trail. The Arizona Trail RACE is in no way associated. The RACE is run by a single person who is unwilling to foster community engagement

      • I suggest you go have a beer with John or ride Queens Ransom with him before dragging him. He does this work at a personal cost and zero profit because he is a community builder.

        • Based on the conversations I’ve had with him already this week I know all I need to about what kind of person he is

        • I don’t drink. Positive actions do not negate negative ones. Selectively enforcing “rules” does a lot of harm… Look at what has become of his actions. I’ll ride “my own” routes, thanks.

    • Do you understand how complicated the AZT is from a route/reroute perspective? The event organizer puts in countless hours to provide a level playing field for all that take on the challenge of the route and communicates well. There are multiple wilderness bypasses that give the organizer so liberty for route creativity.

      Please have some respect for folks that build routes, organize, and provide light governance which do include some rules. Without the work that goes into routes and events, riders wouldn’t have anything structured to ride and you journalists wouldn’t have anything to write about.

        • You quite literally are arguing this in your comments below.

          Lael is selectively following rules that she believes applies to her. It is disrespectful to the work put into events.

          • Lael is accepting of the * next to her name on the race website. What is disrespectful are the false accusations and inconsistent enforcement of “rules” by the organizer

          • I’m actually not. I’m arguing that Lael can go out and ride the AZT and set a record and that in itself is a separate from the AZTR. Read our headline again. Does it say AZTR? Does the article? These details are important. The Arizona Trail exists without the AZTR.

            If she went to do the Colorado Trail, it too is separate from the CTR org.

            My comment below states:

            “Well the AZT isn’t involved. The AZTR – one guy – is. But he doesn’t profit off the event and puts a lot of time into it. I’m not denying the amount of work he’s doing but his messaging to Josh/Rue seems biased and he is selectively enforcing the “rule” we’re all talking about. The same thing happened on the TDR in 2019. Other racers had media crews documenting them but only Lael/Rue got called out.”

            Thank you.

          • No one has biked the AZT. Much of it goes through Wilderness areas where bikes are banned.
            Lael followed the AZTR route

          • Yeah, established by the AZTR guy. Who puts in endless hours every year to make the established route better.

        • I am well aware of the difference. I have been a member of the Arizona Trail Associate for years and know the organizers (previous and current).

          There are segments of the event that are not a part of the Arizona Trail for various reasons year to year.

          • The organizer works closely with the ATA and its trail stewards. The organizer is also the steward of passage 15b. My membership supports building and maintaining the fine trails Lael rode.

            Both of those have an impact on riders and journalists. Thx!

      • Hi Jason. I don’t understand the AZT specifically. That’s why I posed my questions as ignorant. To your points, however, route finding, planning, and organizing do take a lot of effort. However, these trails already exist and are all public. In this instance, based on your reply, it feels like gatekeeping. How else are these efforts to be celebrated or routes promoted? Is that the sole responsibility of the organizer(s) you are referring to? To go back to the Honnold example, it would mean that only Alex Huber could promote efforts on Freerider.

        • @disqus_KbDL8Reu74:disqus – I appreciate the comparison to climbing. Does Freerider change from year to year? For the AZTR there is constant collaboration with the ATA and local trail stewards on current trail conditions and potential reroutes when a segment has closures. I believe long distance bikepacking routes are a little more fluid than rock faces but I may be wrong.

          My only point in this discourse is that organizers put immense effort in with zero financial gain only to give riders (and journalists in this case) a platform. If they have rules, they should be respected. Lael obviously signed up for the Arizona Trail Race by virtue of her Trackleaders registration and I believe she stated in her Insta post she was partificaping in the “AZT Race” thus was bound to the terms of the event.

          Regardless of breaking rules, she had a great finish time and her friends took some good pictures.

        • To be clear here:
          -John Schilling (the AZTR direrctor) and Rue were in conversation about the FKT and the media team after the first day. John and Rue agreed on the * by Lael’s time. We have documentation of this. Lael set out to best the record on her own time, not during the Grand Depart.
          -Due to John and Rue’s conversation, we believe this whole thing shouldn’t have been posted to the AZTR IG account, where John also accused Rue and Josh (The Radavist “media” team) of assisting Lael in “other ways”, thus gaslighting people into thinking Rue and Josh did something illegal on route and shaping the narrative in a harmful way.
          -Rue and Josh did not interact with Lael at all until she finished. Rue and Josh maintained NPAA Journalistic Integrity principals.
          -The issue here is John S visited various racers in various points along the course, hugged them, interacted with them, shot photos of them and posted to his IG account, thus acting as media. John did not maintain journalistic integrity of NPAA rules/principals.
          -This whole thing should have been kept between John and Lael/Rue. There was no need to take it to the public forum.

          Lael’s time has an * by it. This was agreed upon in private discussions with John Schilling. John accusing the “media team” of assisting Lael in “other ways” is harmful and not based in reality. We believe he said this to create controversy.

  5. Breaking news: Tour de france started being broadcast in 1948, gotta asterisk every race from there forward.

  6. We are not deleting comments, they are being flagged as spam by the readership. If you don’t agree, keep it civil but please don’t flag comments as it reads as bias. Thank you.