Campus Closeup: Scott Drum
Scott Drum (Health and Human Performance) has set a probable fastest known time by consecutively running the combined 83.5-mile length of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Isle Royale National Park. He completed the feat earlier this week in just more than 24 hours, including transport time between the parks. His actual running time was 19 hours, 22 minutes.
“It was fun, but also very tough, as I expected,” said Drum (pictured arriving at Munising Falls to close out the first leg). “There was more intermittent hiking with the running toward the end, especially the last five miles or so on Isle Royale. The trail was overgrown there and it took some bushwhacking to make it through. I don’t think I’d do it again because of the conditions, but I feel good about completing it. I’m not aware of anyone who’s attempted the two parks consecutively. Others have run both on different days.”
Drum set out on what he called his “Upper Peninsula Ultra Run Double” at 2:28 a.m. Sunday at Pictured Rocks. He traversed a 43.5-mile stretch of the North Country Trail from the Au Sable Visitor Center in Grand Marais to Munising Falls. After a car ride to Houghton and seaplane transport to Isle Royale, he ran another 40 miles on the Greenstone Ridge Trail from Windigo to Rock Harbor, finishing at 2:40 a.m. Monday. Drum ended the effort the same way he started: in the dark wearing a headlamp.
“This was a personally inspired challenge,” Drum said. “I like to explore the boundaries of human physiology to figure out my own physical limits and test what I’m capable of doing in a day. I daydreamed about an adventure run with a twist, so I looked at the geography near where I live and came up with the off-kilter idea to link the two cool National Park Service units in the Upper Peninsula. There were some interesting logistics to figure out. But an experience like this reinforces what I teach at Northern. Confronting challenges related to carbohydrate-fat metabolism, muscle function, fatigue and the psychological aspects brings exercise science alive for me and hopefully for my students.”
Drum has been running since he was 10 years old, first as a “speedster” doing 5Ks and then progressing to more mileage and less structured workouts. While competitive in spirit, he said he doesn’t race a lot. He prefers trail ultra runs twice a year in the Colorado Rockies, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other scenic locales. Drum’s previous distance record in a day was 50 miles. To prepare for Sunday’s grueling challenge, he ran about 80 miles per week on the wooded and hilly trails near Marquette.
“That included a couple of long runs a week ranging from 20-31 miles while figuring out how to fuel myself along the way to maintain an even energy level,” Drum said. “The distances tapered off near the end of my training so I could conserve energy for the actual run. My concerns Sunday were keeping properly nourished and hydrated, not overextending or injuring myself and hoping everything else would come together as far as weather, the rugged terrain—especially in the dark—elevation gain and the unexpected surprises that always come up.”
Following fastest known time (FKT) protocols, Drum declared his intention in advance on the FKT website, paid his respects to “those who came before” him and gave details on what he was attempting and when as an “open-book” invitation for others to watch or participate. Drum said he hopes to inspire others to either perform the same feat faster or find their own creative ways to physically challenge themselves.
The School of Health and Human Performance hosted a reception Tuesday evening to honor Drum’s achievement.