Karl Meltzer


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About Karl


Call Karl Meltzer a “goat,” and he’ll take it as a compliment. “A speedgoat, that is,” Karl clarifies. “They call me ‘Speedgoatkarl.’”

Karl is one of the world’s best in endurance mountain running – ultrarunning – an extreme form of racing that makes a marathon look like a short sprint. The sure-footed, indefatigable athlete holds the record for most career wins in 100-mile races, and he has set course speed records at the toughest 100s on the planet. When he’s not competing, Karl takes on personal challenges like running the old Pony Express route from California to Missouri, or scrambling the 2,147 miles of the Appalachian Trail. “Sometimes,” he admits with a smile, “I think I am crazy.”

In 2006, Karl outdid even himself, winning a world-record six 100s in a single season and earning kudos including Road Runners Club of America’s Runner of the Year and the Everest Award. (The Everest Awards are to adventure sports what the Academy Awards® are to movies.) In both 2007 and 2009 he won five 100s, setting numerous course records – sometimes by hours. And in 2008 he mixed things up by taking his mountain endurance to a new extreme: Karl completed the gnarly Appalachian Trail in 54 days, persisting to log the fourth-fastest time in history despite severe tendonitis. (He’s not only as agile as a goat; he’s as stubborn as one, too.)

Karl’s Pony Express project (dubbed the Red Bull Human Express) brought dawn-to-dusk runs of about 50 miles a day for 40 days, often on a lonely dirt road. “It’s hard and tough, and while people have done it on bikes, I think I’m the first to run it,” he says. “It’s not about speed – it’s all about continuing to move, about being able to keep my head in the game.”

Karl hopes to run the Appalachian Trail again, too. In contrast to the Pony Express route, it’ll be “steep and hilly and rocky and rooty and wet and nasty” – and he’ll be going for the speed record. Noting that he expended over 6,000 calories a day on many stages of his previous AT run, Karl explains that the attempt is “not only man versus clock, but man versus nature…and man versus self.”

Karl’s ultimate career goal is to find time to win a lifetime thirty-five 100-milers. He’s got about a half-dozen left to go. “Success in 100s is all about being able to run after mile 70,” he asserts. “Some people claim that long-distance runs like the Pony Express trail can ruin your body for that, but I’m not sure I agree. The way things are going right now, I feel like I’m good till at least age 50!”