Want to know how to set an FKT?
Check out Brynn Cunningham's mile-by-mile breakdown for running around Racoon Creek State Park to set a new record.
Here's the data I gathered about Racoon Creek State Park before attempting to set an FKT record:
The route starts and ends at the Raccoon Creek State Park office just off of Rt. 18 on Cabin Road.
The office and parking area are visible from the road.
It’s the same parking area where visitors park to hike the popular Mineral Springs Loop (not part of the FKT) to the Frankfort Mineral Springs and grotto, which my family and I did the day before.
As I turned onto Forest Trail, I quickly arrived at a three-way intersection with a sign for Lake Loop and one for Forest Trail.
Groggy from one hour of sleep, I misread the well-marked signs and took the wrong trail down a small hill to Lake Loop.
Immediately realizing the mistake, I bolted back up to Forest Trail, adding on very little distance, perhaps merely five minutes, of wasted time and needless trail.
Within half a mile, an Eastern Box Turtle sat at the edge of the single-track trail.
Normally in a race or Fastest Known Time speed attempt, I wouldn’t be caught dead taking photos.
But I was tired, had no time to beat since I was going for the first ever female record, and really love turtles.
Forest Trail stayed true to form, a smooth dirt, narrow path, wet and a bit slick from the previous night’s storm but manageable and not sloppy.
By 1.5 miles, another Eastern Box Turtle was waddling down the trail.
Forest Trail meandered along, rolling with short downhills and short uphills, through a thick, green forest, with rain-soaked vegetation leaning into the trail just enough to soak my legs, shorts, socks and shoes.
Forest Trail comes out onto a paved road, which runs along one side of Raccoon Lake for about a mile.
Signs reading something like “Forest Trail Follows Roadway” guide runners in the correct direction.
After leaving the pavement, runners enter Heritage Trail, which has some wider sections than Forest along with interspersed pine stands.
At about 8.5 miles, runners will cross Route 18 at another Mineral Springs Loop parking lot, which is just a minute or two down the road from the start/finish area. After running through the parking lot, a climb takes runners above the Frankfort Mineral Springs (not visible from the trail).
The terrain turns a bit rougher on this portion of Heritage Trail. One rock garden stands out here, with some wider yet more technical terrain. The creek crossings begin. I crossed ankle-deep streams and creeks so many times that I lost count.
By now, with the innumerable creek crossings and sopping-wet vegetation, my shoes were water-logged and squishy.
The trail takes on an uphill/downhill pattern, and then travels along a creek, where the trail is muddy and not super overgrown but quite thick. The path is visible at all times, but the vegetation is lush in mid-July, though not the scary kind where you can’t see where your feet are landing. Many sections of shoe-sucking mud sit along the creek.
A toad leaped up on the path in front of me, and by now, I was in a solid zone and did not want to break it by taking any more photos. Turtles, yes, but not toads, though they make me smile, too.
Somewhere in this mileage Heritage Trail comes to a “T” intersection with Appaloosa Trail. After consulting the state park map, I turned right.
Appaloosa Trail was a nice, flowing singletrack. After a mile or so, a sign appeared that said “Pioneer Camp Shelters.”
Not wanting to disrupt the nice flow I had, I reluctantly took out the map and laid it on the ground to ensure I was making the proper choices in the turns I was taking. Though at this point in the run, I did not like wasting time with such matters, I also relished the adventure in reading a map and figuring out a new-to-me trail.
The map told me that in order to get to the detour described on the FKT site, I needed to make the right-hand turn through the shelter area.
When I got to the shelters, I began to walk slowly, looking around for where the path came out at the other end of the shelters. I asked two campers if Pioneer Camp Road was in the direction I was pointing, and they said they thought so. I took it, and it turned out to be correct.
Pioneer Road is a dirt road that meets up with Nichol Road, which you follow until turning left onto Forest Trail.
Forest Trail is the narrowest of the two other trails, Heritage and Appaloosa, that create the Raccoon Creek State Park Loop. Christmas Ferns came up to my mid-thigh, and so did poison ivy, briers and other greenery.
It becomes clear that Route 18 is just off to your left. Vehicle traffic can be heard, and an open skyway can be seen through the treetops, indicating a main roadway.
Forest Trail comes out onto Route 18, where you turn right to run the short distance downhill back to the start/ finish area.