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  1. #421
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    Default Attn. Mags! Possible new information re Kaiha Bertollini

    Hi, Mags and other moderators.

    I just wanted to anyone who is interested know that Steve Adams will release an interview with Ms. Bertollini this Thursday, Dec. 8, on his podcast, "Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail."

    I realize that many people feel this subject to be talked out, and that many not consider this to be a true "new development." But as a journalist, I applaud Adams for his willingness to interview a controversial subject. I have not heard the interview, so I cannot speak to how illuminating (or not) it may be, but the instinct to go to the source is a good one.

    Clay Bonnyman Evans
    aka Pony (AT'16; CT'15)

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Thanks, Clay. Qualifies as new news for sure.
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  3. #423
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    Default Interview with Kaiha Bertollini, aka Wild Card Ninja, re alleged record AT hike

    Here is Steve Adams' (Mighty Blue, AT'14) interview with Kaiha Bertollini on his excellent podcast, "Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail."

    A couple of thoughts:

    I like and admire Steve a great deal, and his podcast is the most entertaining take on thru hiking I've heard or read in a long time. That said, I take issue with his public assertion that, until Kaiha Bertollini's claim of an astonishing new record for both supported and unsupported hikes of the AT is disproven, he will believe her.

    As a skeptic, I would argue that the only time to believe a claim is when it has been amply demonstrated through solid, credible evidence. And as Carl Sagan wisely said, extraordinary claims (like Bertollini's) require extraordinary evidence. A stance of believing every claim until it is proven otherwise is a recipe for extreme gullibility, particularly given the notorious difficulty of disproving some claims. Bertrand Russell famously posited a teapot orbiting the sun beyond Mars to make the point: all but impossible to "disprove," but it's nonetheless extremely unlikely that "Russell's teapot" exists.

    Just as important, the burden of proof for any claim lies with the claimant, period. If you tell me you have an invisible dragon in your garage (another nod to Sagan), it is incumbent upon you, the claimant, to provide evidence and demonstrate proof of your claim; it is not my job as a skeptic to disprove your dragon.

    Whatever anyone makes of the interview or Bertollini's story, a hearty round of applause to Steve Adams for doing what we should all be doing in these halcyon "post-fact" days: Asking questions and going to the source.

    ~Pony (AT'16; CT'15)
    aka Clay Bonnyman Evans

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    Believe them in the sense that they thru hiked it - OK, many do, many blue and yellow blaze too, all part of HYOH. It is a honor system, and people who cheat here have cheated themselves.

    But in form of a record, that has a standard of proof. So without that proof, congrats on your thru hike, I would have spent more time in towns as I would have felt I missed a lot if I didn't.

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    Agreed on both points, Starchild.

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    Nothing there changes my mind. To me it's been disproved that she hiked the whole trail, regardless of what she believes. She has failed to provide the proof she said she was and hasn't taken up any of the offers to prove herself after inviting them. He didn't ask any hard questions to explain the discrepancies, a very tame interview that proves nothing, and has just given her a forum to promote her lie.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

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    Well said, Clay. I would think there is no way any FKT sites will recognize this "record" in any way.

    I'm one of the more naïve people around, I tend to always give the benefit of the doubt, but this is clearly (to me) pure fraud. This lady is a train wreck. I don't even believe some of her on-trail stories. I dated a lady with BPD once, plus my sister has such tendencies. This lady smacks of BPD.

    I do like that blog site though, good stuff on there, thanks for sharing.

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    Normally I'm psyched on Thursdays: go for a run and listen to Mighty Blue. Today, alas, I have a medical procedure, so I haven't listened yet—but I'm very eager to.

    I don't expect Steve to do any kind of hard-core grilling; that's not what his podcast is about. But I have a feeling that Bertollini will reveal herself sufficiently to simply add weight to the extreme unlikelihood of her claim.

    And I'm most intrigued about your thoughts about BPD—I had to deal with a late in-law who was diagnosed BPD (it's a term that gets tossed around a lot, but there is an actual diagnosis) and that is the scariest, most maddening personality disorder I've ever had to face. I'll be listening to the interview with Bertollini with that in mind.

  9. #429
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    Too much wrong with everything about her claims, let alone the fact that it has been proven she skipped a portion of the trail.
    She was seen drinking and smoking cigs. Her mileage claims are so outlandish, when compared to proven competitive athletes, that some form of proof, other than her word, is required.

    As was mentioned above, some proof must be shown. No proof has been shown.

    Ask yourself a question, "Who would set out to undertake a record attempt at a thru-hike with no documentation, no crew, no PR, no sponsors, no track record of competition and while attempting the record, be seen consuming alcohol and smoking cigs? And then claim they did it?" Ummm......I hear something quacking....

  10. #430
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    I am firmly in the skeptic camp on Ms. Bertollini's claim, and have been since even before the multiple sources of evidence against it began to accumulate.

    As I've told others, and as you suggest, the problem—even if she somehow miraculously accomplished this feat—is that she does not have sufficient evidence to support it. Given that, her best approach if she wishes to be believed would be to make another, better-documented attempt. Simply asserting that all witnesses that provide anecdotes undermining her account are liars, and that she herself knows the real truth, will satisfy no one.

    Beyond ScareBear's succinctly stated case, I would also suggest that anyone inclined to believe Ms. Bertollini make a detailed comparison with the extremely well-documented efforts of Scott Jurek, Heather "Anish" Anderson, Karl Meltzer, Jennifer Pharr Davis and others, to gain an understanding of what is actually required to accomplish something like this. In Jurek's case, the effort to keep crew on the road to support him and other costs totaled $100,000, just for starters. To think that someone could break Meltzer's well-documented time despite having to get to town, buy and prepare food, make camp—none of which Meltzer had to do himself, nor Jurek, nor Davis—is absurd on its face. And never mind the accumulated reports by hikers who witnessed Ms. Bertollini taking a rather leisurely approach at times, and seemingly well-documented evidence that she skipped at least one portion of the trail.

    But again! Kudos to Steve Adams for putting this out there. He does a great job with that podcast.

  11. #431

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    Don't know much about this guy... wish he'd read this before the interview: https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthre...llini-Real-FKT
    Much like the Outside reporter... even when they do their homework much seems to misunderstood still about a FKT, which is really pretty simple.
    That said; seems like a nice enough guy and not saying anything one way or another about him or his choice to interview her.

    Guess listening to this does highlight the general simple issue at hand with Kaiha: It's a very engaging personal story.
    Much like "Wild" or "Walk in the Woods" there is some inspiration, insight, empathy, heartache and even humor to be found... underlying it all are serious issues that involve society as a whole.

    Neither book is about a "Thru hike", but simply a story involving the trail. If Kaiha had gone that route, she'd have done much for her cause and herself. Too bad. She's a flawed but generally likable person overall.

    About all that was "new" here was her admitting that she was supported later in the interview, she does elaborate on some of the support she receives earlier.
    (Which is a problem when you supposedly set out to beat the unsupported record).

    Telling to me was when she was asked a very simple question, "What was your longest day?"
    The answer to that would have spoken volumes to me... but what followed was a long ramble about sleep deprivation, supposedly ditching all her gear and making a run for it from standing bear to the finish. Being up for 48 hours straight.
    But never an answer. No mention of a big day in the shennies which was the focal point of disputing her claim.

    That said, I think it was a mainly honest interview and odds are decent she doesn't quite have all the facts straight herself. She did hike. She did do something, she may do something cool in the future.

    She did not set an FKT.

    I do know she did turn in a trip report. I don't want to speculate on what it actually said on her trip report... don't need to. For the foreseeable future Peter Bakwin's site still lists the following names in bold and that answer regarding what that report contained is straight forward and simple to understand.

    Karl Meltzer set the men's AT speed record, 45d22h38m (supported), from Aug. 3 to Sep. 18, 2016 (ME to GA).
    Jennifer Pharr-Davis has the women's AT speed record, 46d11h20m (supported), from June 15 to July 31, 2011 (ME to GA).
    Heather Anderson has the women's and overall self-supported (thru hiker style, ME to GA) AT FKT, 54d7h48m, completed Sep. 24, 2015.
    Matt Kirk set the men's self-supported (thru hiker style, ME to GA) AT FKT, 58d9h40m, June - August 7, 2013.

  12. #432
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    Quote Originally Posted by claybonnyman View Post


    I like and admire Steve a great deal, and his podcast is the most entertaining take on thru hiking I've heard or read in a long time. That said, I take issue with his public assertion that, until Kaiha Bertollini's claim of an astonishing new record for both supported and unsupported hikes of the AT is disproven, he will believe her.

    Who takes issue with what someone else says they believe


    This was beat to death

    Last I read she set out to hike all the long distance trails in the US , live on the trail off of money from the website apparently

    Visited the Long Trail, then dissapeared, I would hazard a guess because it was cold and there was no money.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-08-2016 at 12:26.
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  13. #433

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    Quote Originally Posted by claybonnyman View Post
    I am firmly in the skeptic camp on Ms. Bertollini's claim, and have been since even before the multiple sources of evidence against it began to accumulate.

    As I've told others, and as you suggest, the problem—even if she somehow miraculously accomplished this feat—is that she does not have sufficient evidence to support it. Given that, her best approach if she wishes to be believed would be to make another, better-documented attempt. Simply asserting that all witnesses that provide anecdotes undermining her account are liars, and that she herself knows the real truth, will satisfy no one.

    Beyond ScareBear's succinctly stated case, I would also suggest that anyone inclined to believe Ms. Bertollini make a detailed comparison with the extremely well-documented efforts of Scott Jurek, Heather "Anish" Anderson, Karl Meltzer, Jennifer Pharr Davis and others, to gain an understanding of what is actually required to accomplish something like this. In Jurek's case, the effort to keep crew on the road to support him and other costs totaled $100,000, just for starters. To think that someone could break Meltzer's well-documented time despite having to get to town, buy and prepare food, make camp—none of which Meltzer had to do himself, nor Jurek, nor Davis—is absurd on its face. And never mind the accumulated reports by hikers who witnessed Ms. Bertollini taking a rather leisurely approach at times, and seemingly well-documented evidence that she skipped at least one portion of the trail.

    But again! Kudos to Steve Adams for putting this out there. He does a great job with that podcast.
    Not looking to pick a fight... just clear a few things up.

    Hard to say if it was Kaiha or Jenny who was doing the flaming on social media... to be fair I didn't hear much of that from Kaiha in this or other interviews. Pure speculation but I think most of that came from Jenny- she did communicate with me more than once from accounts that had Kaiha's name attached. For the most part Kaiha seems to have a generally upbeat attitude publicly.

    That said, there is enough compelling evidence to discount her claim in my opinion.
    Although I would not call her claim "absurd"... one of the problems with her claim is that her story is conceivable... not likely, but at the edge of possibility. If you could blur the line... if you're moving quick enough as Kaiha eluded to in the interview; you can start moving from town to town or meal to meal even. I'm not saying she's the person who could do that, or that it can be done soon... but if it were to happen her "strategy" is a very viable one... in fact it's been tried by a few folks I know of to some extent. Grayson, Joey Camps, even Matt and Heather all employed some form of this. What's the difference between walking up to your support van or walking into McD's? How much extra time does it take to eat bars all day? Does greeting your fans (as Jurek did) take much longer than scooping water from a stream?

    The trail goes by more and more services every year... at 15 MPD it's inconceivable. At 45MPD... there are less and less stretches that you couldn't pull off a minimal supply strategy or eat town food for at least half your meals. Most average AT hikers are carrying 4-5 days of food. 15x5 is 75 miles. That's a day and two thirds at FKT speed.. a town meal at the start, a sandwich (or three) carried along, some bars and snacks, and boom you're in for dinner at a restaurant. Every supported hike is affected somewhat by vehicle access. That can cut days short, or cause a push when you don't want one... Self supported folks can sleep where they drop, hike when they want, move when they feel good.

    It was not long ago that Scott Williamson showed how completely reasonable it was that a self-supported hiker could best the time of a fully supported runner when he surpassed David Horton's time on the PCT.
    It wasn't that long ago that Jen and Brew Davis put up a record with a completely different hybrid style of supported hiking that has taken two of the best professional ultrarunners in history to chip a few hours each off her effort.

    So "absurd" or impossible are big words to use... to an extent, absurdly impossible things are what records are made of

    It was Karl's hike that was 100k or more. Unless Jurek reported a final tally as well eventually, Karl posted that figure in an interview.
    As far as I know Scott self funded his hike. (Understanding of course that his "day job" probably comes with some perks/freebies and sponsorship that helped with the costs.)

    Karl, Scott, and Jennifer all completed well documented hikes consistent with supported standards.
    Matt Kirk completed a well documented hike consistent or exceeding self-supported standards.

    Heather Anderson has provided little to no documentation on her AT hike... in some ways she provided less information than Kaiha.
    In part that's why this door was opened to someone like Kaiha to step through.

    To date the only documentation provided for her hike that I am aware of was provided by Matt Kirk on her behalf. Slapping your reputation card on the table is a big help, but it's not a universal ticket either.
    The simplest and most reliable form of documentation is a simple split sheet. This could have been created at any time regardless of the other issues that were involved. I don't care about GPS, or electronics, of facebook, or anything else. I don't believe a GPS is the magic bullet. Everything else can be faked or manipulated if you're dishonest, a split sheet says more about a hike than any other form of documentation to those who know the trail. It is the one document that folks review and study more completely than any other.

    That's the picture on the cover of the box we use to put an FKT together, the rest are just pieces of the puzzle.

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    This is a fundamental principle for skepticism, MuddyWaters. Everyone is free to believe what they want. But using principles of logic, reason and science, the time to believe is when there is credible evidence for a proposition. The flip side that Steve mentions in the podcast is to believe until something has been disproven. But this way lies madness and gullibility. If I walk up to you and say, "Yo, I just broke the world record for running the mile on a track. I ran it in 3:45!", would you believe me? If not, why not? Presumably, given the extraordinary nature of the claim, you would want to know more: did I film it? Were there witnesses? What in my background makes it believable that I could run a 3:45 mile?

    Now imagine I told you I ran a 3:45 mile while wearing ankle weights ... in my mind, this is essentially what Ms. Bertollini has done.

    I understand, and have pointed out, that many people feel this topic is talked out. The moderators agreed that this new interview qualifies as new information, and I, for one, am still interested in the subject.

  15. #435

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    That interview does nothing to convince me she did a complete thru in FKT. She claims she is going to do a series of flip flops of long trails with a GPS starting the beginning of January with the AZT. If she does complete one or some in record or near record time than I would give more weight to her original claim but I still have a problem with the section of the Smokies she seems to have skipped where we have "evidence" and her insistence that wasn't the case.
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    Recognizing all the ink and pixels that have been spilled on this subject, particularly evidence weighing against Ms. Bertollini's claim, here are a few things I would note from Steve Adams' interview:

    1) This is a friendly rather than an adversarial interview, as befits Steve's podcast. I would have been a more skeptical interviewer, but I'm a cynical old journalist and Steve is just a decent guy.

    2) Steve referred to "haters" online; I have seen nothing here on WB that would qualify as "hate." Doubt is not hate, and indeed, I detected a surprising number of very polite people who adopted a strictly agnostic take on what I consider to be a highly unlikely claim.

    3) Steve accepted Ms. Bertollini's claim to have notified Heather "Anish" Anderson, current accepted FKT holder for an unsupported AT hike, of her intention to break her record. But Ms. Bertollini was not at all clear that her contact with Anderson constituted true notification (indeed, she suggested that Anderson didn't read her email(s) that way).

    I also want to push back a bit on skepticism of the "self appointed" people over at the Fastest Known Time website created by my old friends Peter Bakwin and Buzz Burrell. The site was created by volunteers with the very best of intentions, and really, how else would this happen? The standards and "rules" ("These three rules do not 'prove' you have done anything. They just make it easier for a good person to believe you.") are widely agreed upon within the community, and the site is anything but some autocratic, top-down effort. The site is fair-minded and run by people who care deeply about accuracy; they have no agenda to push except providing standards and a clearinghouse for information that is of interest to a lot of people.

    4) What little description she gave of her actual time on the trail during the interview tends, in my opinion, to undermine her claim to have broken the supported and unsupported FKTs (whose record holders did not have time to lollygag). For example, she mentions having breakfast with a friend and waiting for boxes to arrive. These few details square with (now numerous) witness accounts who describe Bertollini as taking a rather leisurely approach to her allegedly speedy hike.

    5) Ms. Bertollini is at great pains to note how little she slept, presumably, this is how she explains some enormously big miles (someone calculated she would have had to average 75+ mile days for 6 or 7 days on the final leg to Springer). It is not impossible that she could have managed by taking two-hour "power naps," but Davis, Anderson, Jurek, Meltzer, et al, made the absolute most of their sleeping hours.

    6) When Steve asks her a simple question that most thru hikers can answer quickly—"What was your biggest mile day?"—Bertollini dissembles for several minutes on several topics, but never actually answers the question.

    7) I was constantly aware that we were getting only Ms. Bertollini's version of stories (such as the negative encounter with the Texas hiker). At the same time, she herself suggested that because of lack of sleep and exhaustion, she was feeling "paranoid" as she hiked away from that encounter, believing that people were coming after her, which at least raises doubts about her judgment.

    8) Not having been there, I have no idea what happened with the Texas hiker. There are certainly ******** and threat-makers on the trail, so the story is plausible. But I was intrigued that the source of the conflict was Bertollini's cigarette smoking. I can report that more than once, I had to ask people to please smoke (whatever they were smoking) away from the shelter front, so smoke didn't migrate inside; mostly, they politely complied, but not always. On one occasion, sensing a certain aggressiveness on the part of some smokers, I literally packed up at 8 p.m. and left a shelter.

    9) When Steve correctly suggested Ms. Bertollini could prove her critics wrong by rehiking the AT with a GPS device, she enthusiastically said she was planning to do just that. Then she went on to say what she's going to do is to do fast yo-yos of "every long trail" in the country, starting in January with the Arizona Trail. It's noteworthy, in my opinion, that she plans to embark on another quest—one that would, presumably, detract from hiking the AT in record time; it seems re-attempting her AT hike is not a high priority.

    10) Overall, I agree with Just Bill's assessment that Ms. Bertollini tells an engaging personal story. And outside of a certain paranoia, she seems to be a nice, well-intentioned person. But this interview did nothing, in my mind, to shore up her claim.

    It's worth hearing, and once more, with feeling, Mighty Blue's podcast is a lot of fun.

  17. #437
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    Quote Originally Posted by claybonnyman View Post
    This is a fundamental principle for skepticism, MuddyWaters. Everyone is free to believe what they want. But using principles of logic, reason and science, the time to believe is when there is credible evidence for a proposition. The flip side that Steve mentions in the podcast is to believe until something has been disproven. But this way lies madness and gullibility. If I walk up to you and say, "Yo, I just broke the world record for running the mile on a track. I ran it in 3:45!", would you believe me? If not, why not? Presumably, given the extraordinary nature of the claim, you would want to know more: did I film it? Were there witnesses? What in my background makes it believable that I could run a 3:45 mile?

    Now imagine I told you I ran a 3:45 mile while wearing ankle weights ... in my mind, this is essentially what Ms. Bertollini has done.

    I understand, and have pointed out, that many people feel this topic is talked out. The moderators agreed that this new interview qualifies as new information, and I, for one, am still interested in the subject.

    If you have a problem with someone elses opinion, you should argue it with them.

    Basically otherwise, your point is only "this jacka$$ thinks she did a FKT, but I dont"

    And , it was already beaten to death and then some.

    The woman needs help, not publicity about her failed stunt
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-08-2016 at 14:09.
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    And:

    11) Ms. Bertollini acknowledged in the interview that her hike should not be considered "self supported" or "unsupported." So we can put that one to rest, in her own words.

    Just Bill, I actually don't think the feat she claims is even "on the edge of possibility." Again, all one need do is examine the effort required for well-documented record holders such as Davis, Jurek and Meltzer to see how extraordinary (and I would say, all but impossible) such a feat would be. Anderson, the acknowledged FKT holder for both the AT and PCT, presumably knows a little about that, and I assume she would find the idea that she could have somehow saved 9 days off her AT record to be actually over the edge of possibility.

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    Let's Run has a lively discussion about it for those who enjoy that type of discussion.
    Last edited by Mags; 12-08-2016 at 14:15.
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