Oregon Woman Sets Incredible Speed Record On the Oregon Portion Of Pacific Crest Trail

She ran to feel connected to her mom, who had passed from cancer, and to raise over $32,000 for rare cancer research.

Pacific Crest Trail Sign. Photo by Jonathan Miske via Flickr CC2.

Emily Halnon recently set the speed record for running the Oregon portion of the famous Pacific Crest Trail.  She ran 453 miles from California to Washington in 7 days.  Through snow and bitter cold, up and over mountains, and through long days and longer nights, Emily ran in honor of her mother who died of cancer earlier this year, and to raise money for rare cancer research.

A New Oregon Record On The PCT

 

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Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is challenging enough, but running it to set a record is unimaginably difficult.  On August 9th, 2020 Emily crossed Bridge Of The Gods into Washington and set the fastest overall known time (for men and women) on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The previous fastest time was set by Brian Donnelly in 2013 at 7 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes in a self-supported run.  Emily ran the PCT in 7 days, 19 hours, and 23 minutes.

 

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There are two ways to set a record like this on the PCT: supported and self-supported.  Emily ran with a support team of friends who met her at trail crossings to run with her or to bring her food or help massage the aches and pains out of her calves.  Read about how her team supported her in her Instagram Post below:

 

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I could not have run the 453 miles across Oregon without these two adorable, silly, and big-hearted boys. And holy cheezit, these PCT crew captains might’ve worked just as hard as this runner did. Ian gave ten million percent to this run. He started packing my bag and caffeinating me before I rolled out of bed each morning. He lanced gianormous blisters and peeled crusty socks off my battered feet. He hiked a jetboil into remote trail intersections, so he could make me trailside mashed potatoes and ramen. He massaged my calves in the wee hours of the night, as they zinged with restless fatigue from back-to-back-to-back 60 mile days. He drove approximately a million miles, to be at many road intersections with a buffet of snacks and an energetic display of support. He played all of the best dance anthems to send me off into the most tedious and trying stretches of trail: Robyn’s Indestructible, Taylor Swift Shaking it Off, and Sofi Tukker everything. He wrangled crew and pacers like a world class cruise director. He ran with me through some of my lowest lows, like the 18 mile midnight march through the dusty burn zone outside Crater Lake. He hugged me as I got off the trail every night, which was always one of my hardest times of day. And cheered me onto the trail every morning, which was my other hardest time. He stayed amazingly positive and endlessly helpful throughout all 453 miles of running, despite being severely sleep deprived himself and riddled with all of the hurry-up-and-wait stress of crewing someone for 8 straight days. And he made me the most beautiful map of my run, because he is a very, very good cartographing boyfriend. (! –>) And Dilly. Dilly was there with a bottomless supply of puppy kisses. Because he’s a very giving pickle. And the promise of his sloppy kisses at the end of every day definitely helped me keep putting one foot in front of the other all the way to Washington. If anyone knows how to thank a boyfriend and a pickle puppy for being so unbelievably incredible, please let me know. Because I definitely have a lot of gratitude sharing to do with these two amazing boys forever and ever. 🗺: @map_your_adventure 📷: Jon Meyers

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Emily averaged 57 miles a day, which is incredible given the rough, rocky terrain she often had to traverse, the mountains she had to climb on the trail and the poor conditions she often had to run in.  There were times on the trail where she was wet for 14 hours straight from the elements.  There were also violent river crossings, snow fields to cross, and harsh cold to contend with.

 

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On day six Emily posted to Instagram, “The early terrain is a monster.  Miles of trail over jagged lava rocks that are slow and tedious.”  She also wrote that day, “By our first crew stop the weather is changing.  The temperature plummets and sheets of rain cascade from the sky.  A mountain storm has arrived.”

 

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Emily thought of her mom a lot while on the trail.  She said her mom would have been beyond proud, and this was her way of feeling connected to her.  Through her record setting run across the Oregon portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, Emily raised $32,000 for the Brave Like Gabe foundation to support rare cancer research.  In an Instagram post Emily wrote: “My mom’s fight against rare cancer was full of dead ends. When that first round of chemo didn’t work, her oncologist had terrifyingly few options to offer her.”  Her mother passed away in January of 2020 after a 13 month battle against a rare uterine cancer.

 

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Today would be my mom’s 67th birthday. She would probably celebrate with 67 miles on her bike, like the total badass she was. It was almost exactly a year ago, that I booked a last minute flight to Vermont because we’d just found out my mom’s initial chemotherapy didn’t work and her cancer was growing. And I was worried it might be my last chance to spend time with my mom while she was relatively healthy and able to enjoy things like bike rides and lakeside walks and maple creemes. I desperately didn’t want that to be the case, I wanted my time with my mom to stretch for decades longer. But it turned out to be the heartbreaking reality. The next time I saw her, she was too sick to leave the house. And she was gone just six months after my July visit. My mom’s fight against rare cancer was full of dead ends. When that first round of chemo didn’t work, her oncologist had terrifyingly few options to offer her. And one of them was giving up. Something my tenacious mother would never choose to do. But dealing with rare cancer often means running out of options. And my mom ran out of treatment options within months of her diagnosis. In honor of my mom’s birthday, while this PCT run is still real fresh in my legs, and I’m not quite done raising money for rare cancer research – can you consider an $8 or $12 donation (or hell, a $67 donation!) to @bravelikegabe (like in profile!), to give people with rare cancer more effective treatments, more hope, and more time to live and love. And regardless of whether are able to give, go and do some hard living and loving today. For my mom, for you, for your loved ones. We don’t know how much time we have with this one life we get, so fill your days and your years with big life and love. Just like my brave, beautiful, badass mom did. #runningonhope #bravelikegabe

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You can learn more about Emily and her inspiring journey on her Instagram here.

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