Official Announcement

On July 7th, I’m beginning a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, 2,193 miles from Georgia to Maine, in an attempt to set an endurance record, or FKT (fastest known time). Hiking the AT has been a dream in the making for a long time, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to now realize that dream. My thru-hike will be supported by educator and hiker Warren Doyle, who set an endurance record on the trail in 1973 and has set an informal record for hiking the entire trail the most times (18). I will also be supported along the way by my family in Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as friends I have met through the amazing hiking and trail running communities in the eastern US.

The women’s record stands at 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes by Jennifer Pharr Davis supported by Brew Davis, and the overall record stands at 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes by Karel Sabbe supported by Joren Biebuyck. Their achievements, and those of Heather Anderson and Joe McConaughy (self-supported record holders), Scott Jurek, Karl Meltzer, Andrew Thompson, Pete Palmer, David Horton, and the list goes on, are not only feats of extraordinary athleticism, but a testament to the power of the mind, planning, strategy, the ability to roll with the punches, and above all… relentless forward motion.

I would like to address that this thru-hike is happening in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. My crew and I are taking every measure to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19 by getting tested, wearing masks as required indoors or when keeping a distance of six feet isn’t possible, minimizing resupplies and arranging contactless delivery when possible, and providing our own shelters and avoiding places where hikers congregate. The entire trail from Georgia to Maine is open for use, though some restrictions for out-of-state visitors remain in the northern-most states; this may mean leaving the trail to get tested before entering certain states, contacting state health departments regarding this particular circumstance and following their guidance, and/or making some difficult decisions if the situation gets worse over the next month. My crew and I will post trail updates from my blog and I won’t be posting on social media during the hike, as to not take up space or glorify traveling and thru-hiking at this time. I am also sharing private live tracking info with the site runners at Fastest Known Time. While this is a personal journey at its core, I want to be transparent about my progress in the record attempt.

You can sign up for trail updates delivered to your inbox at the button below. Thank you to Anna Trella Ruth for designing the beautiful logo and backdrop.

Lastly… my trail name Mercury is inspired by the Roman deity, the wing- and fleet-footed messenger of the gods. In embarking on and sharing about this journey, I would like to deliver my own message of perseverance and hope.

Sign up for trail updates:

Who is Mercury?

Liz Derstine, trail name “Mercury”, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Boston, MA. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).

Newsletter 💫

Subscribe to Liz’s weekly newsletter full of inspiring stories about running, music, trails and life.

Success! You're on the list.