Michael Versteeg's Colorado Trail FKT via Collegiate West

Is anyone else following this FKT attempt: www.instagram.com/michael.versteeg/

This latest update from day 4 sounds absolutely brutal .(copy and pasted the text for those who don’t do instagram )

Mike would try to finish getting through the Collegiate West on Day 4, which very few runners choose to run, and we’d soon learn why.

His pace understandably slowed as the terrain is essentially un-runnable: massive climbs and descents on super technical terrain above 12,000 feet.

Crew access points along the Collegiate West are scant, at best requiring drives over extremely undeveloped roads and at worst necessitating an off-road capable vehicle.

Superhero crew member Larz @larzkrause — in order to access Mike and break up CW02 from being a 25.9 mile section with over 6,000 feet of climbing — drove his dirt bike through waist deep water at Texas Creek to meet him at around 18 miles in, managing to get him some much needed aid. This helped Mike make it to Cottonwood Pass in good time and spirits.

From here on out, everything began to unravel. The route we took to Tin Cup Pass cost us over an hour and a half of wasted time and left Mike and pacer Adam T. @thedirtyboy stranded, out of water and nutrition for over 20 minutes in what was the start of a cold night. Luckily, Larz was able to take his dirt bike up to them.

Next, the rest of the crew went to meet Mike at Hancock Pass (about 245 miles in). When we got there, the access point was poorly marked and we hiked miles into the dark to finally find him on the trail, two miles after where we were supposed to meet him. He was the lowest we had ever seen him, wearing random gear from the lack of proper van aid, and collapsed on the trail next to us.

The rest of the evening continued in this fashion, to the point that when he left Boss Creek to push himself to Monarch Pass — nearly the end of the Collegiate West — we all tried to find any place with the remotest service to be able to make sure the dot on the spot tracker didn’t stop moving.

Mike rolled into Monarch Pass around 5am, looking like a shell of his former self, barely lucid, with only enough energy to greet his girlfriend and champion crew member Maddi and get into their van.

Collegiate West was the Collegiate Worst.

Words by @fueledbynatto


Wow, I had not been following this one…I hope he stays safe out there…

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Me too! Sounds like he has an amazing support team though.

It looks like he may have pulled the plug…

From his IG: "I don’t usually stop. I have a lot of valid excuses but none of them matter. Categorical shifts in motives and values are hard to grapple with while attempting hard things. Looking forward to more rewarding projects with friends in the future, and less ego. Lots to say but not right now.

For all those that followed along, thank you. Sorry for leaving the story unfinished"

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Wow! Brutal. And sounds like he’s in a low spot mentally. Hope he’s ok.

Versteeg + Dauwalter makes two excellent runners that the CT has taken down in the last year or so. Must be an really tough route. Makes Joe Grant’s record that much more impressive.

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This is so sad, he was so strong up until Collegiate West. Looks like CW just depleted him to the point that it became dangerous for him and probably his team to continue. After attempting the Collegiate West route back in Auguste 2020 (as @mk717 mentioned already), Courtney Dauwalter ended up in hospital with breathing difficulties.

Interestingly whilst looking at the FKT website, I noticed that Marilyne Marchand-Gouin hiked the East to West, Collegiate West route unsupported last year in 14days 13hr. This is an amazing achievement. And Nick Pedatella recently beat Bryan Williams FKT (8d 0h 30mins) for W-E via CW, new FKT is now 7d 17hr 52mins - another huge performance.

So the Collegiate West can be conquered, but it seems just by a select few. Don’t know what differentiates them to the other accomplished runners who have also tried in recent years- would be interesting to find out.

Definitely makes Joe Grant’s 2019 FKT legendry. And up until Sept 4th Bryan Williams’ 2017 FKT was unbeaten too. Be interesting to see who makes the next attempt at the Colorado Trail via the Collegiate West route. Will probably have to wait until next year now.