[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by guest author, Amber Nelson.]
The film “Pacing the Pacific” follows Karel Sabbe and his crew as they prepare for and complete a new Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) men’s supported fastest known time (FKT) in the summer of 2023. It gives insight into the planning and execution involved in taking on such a huge but rewarding task.
On August 26, 2023, Sabbe took back his record for completing the Pacific Crest Trail in the men’s suppported FKT. This journey consisted of 2,650 miles and took him 46 days, 12 hours, and 50 minutes to complete.
Remarkably, this was not Sabbe’s first time breaking the FKT for the route. In 2016, he completed and snatched the record in 52 days, 8 hours, and 25 minutes. However, in July 2021, Timothy Olson took the FKT crown when he completed the journey in 51 days, 16 hours, and 55 minutes.
It took Sabbe some time to be able to take on such a feat again, but once he and his crew set their mind to it, there was no stopping this determined team.
Sabbe is a dedicated ultrarunner from Belgium, who is also a dentist. Despite being busy at his dental practice, Sabbe still trains for and takes on ultramarathons and FKTs that are unthinkable to most.
This full-length film brings the viewer through the journey of what it is like to get a group of people together to plan and help execute such a daunting task. From planning nutrition to timing the start of each run day right, to avoid being on the most challenging parts of the trail during the hottest parts of the day, Sabbe and his pacers master the approach needed when it comes to crushing supported FKTs.
From planned sleep sessions in the middle of the day, to sleep deprivation as a result of the heat, Sabbe’s crew shows true dedication to supporting their friend in his journey and sucking up the suffering to execute the plan they had laid forth.
The film is divided into chapters to focus on the different sections of the trail, and the challenges brought forth by each section. From blazing heat to unexpected snowpack, Sabbe and his crew are meticulous in their planning, in order to have the most successful attempt possible.
Pulling at your heartstrings, the film discusses a time when Sabbe expresses fear and his team steps up to be by his side during some of the most treacherous parts of the trail. They are forced to make hard decisions about what gear they should take with them and how they will make it through the handful of cold and dangerous days ahead.
This film does an amazing job of demonstrating how completing a supported FKT of this length truly takes a village, and showcases the bonds that are formed and maintained between the attempting individual and their crew, despite challenging conditions and unforeseeable events.
This watching experience is about more than just Sabbe’s success. It’s about the sacrifices of him and his crew and the things that his crew accomplished during his journey.
Your breath will be taken away by not only the beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges along the trail, but also the unbreakable bonds that are formed and maintained during Sabbe’s journey toward the Pacific Crest Trail men’s supported fastest known time.