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Originally published Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

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Seattle runner raising awareness for cancer finishes 2,663-mile trek Sunday in record time

Joe McConaughy, who started his trek on June 18, completed the Pacific Crest Trail in 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. As of Sunday evening, he had raised over $27,000 for the group Cancer Care.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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One of the first things Seattle runner Joe McConaughy did Sunday upon completing a historic run was head for the nearest restaurant.

McConaughy, 23, is planning plenty more of that in coming weeks after finishing a record run of the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. He arrived at the Canadian border just south of Manning Park about noon PT, having embarked on his “Run For Colin” on June 18 just beyond the Mexican border in California.

“When I got to the end, I couldn’t believe that it was all over and that this lifestyle I’ve been living all this time was coming to an end,’’ he said. “So, it was a real mixture of just joy that it was over, relief that I’d done what I set out to do and sadness that I wouldn’t be doing it anymore.’’

McConaughy shattered the trail record of 59 days, 8 hours and 4 minutes for an assisted effort, set last year by California hiker Josh Garrett. Just one day prior, Bellingham resident Heather Anderson set the record for an “unassisted” or “thru” hike, completing the trail in 60 days, 17 hours and 12 minutes.

McConaughy undertook the attempt to raise money for families of cancer victims and in honor of his late cousin, Colin, who died of neuroblastoma at age 2. As of Sunday evening, he had raised over $27,000 for the group Cancer Care.

A former cross country and middle distance runner at Boston College, McConaughy was followed throughout his journey by a support crew of three classmates he’d met at school and who drove an SUV stocked with supplies. Jordan Hamm, Jack Murphy and Michael Dillon, all 23 and natives of Buffalo, NY, were waiting for him Sunday at the border as he completed the final 30 miles of the trail after hiking on his own the previous two nights.

From there, they hiked an additional nine miles to a campground on the Canadian side of the border where McConaughy’s parents and girlfriend waited. They headed to a nearby restaurant.

“It was only the second restaurant I’ve eaten at since this whole thing started,’’ he said. “I had a full plate of ribs, all the sides, a spinach and artichoke dip and half of my girlfriend’s salad.’’

He’d hopped on a scale just before and found his trek had knocked his weight from 165 pounds down to 147 on his 6-foot-4 frame. He’s got plenty of time to put it back on.

“It’s a relief to know I don’t have to wake up first thing in the morning, put my shoes on and do another 50 miles,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy sleeping in a bit.”

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com



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