On Saturday morning, Austin Killips set a new overall fastest known time on the Arizona Trail 800 route with an impressive time of just 8 days, 23 hours, and 27 minutes. The wildest part is that this was Austin’s first bikepacking event. Learn more about Austin and her ride and plans for the year here…

Over the weekend, Austin Killips finished a second run at the Arizona Trail after a crash ended her first attempt earlier this month. She pushed through scorching hot temperatures and what is already an incredibly demanding route to set a new overall course record on the 800-mile route, finishing in an incredible 8 days, 23 hours, and 27 minutes. The previous overall course record was set by Alex Schultz at the 2023 Arizona Trail Race, who completed the grueling 800-mile course in 9 days, 5 hours, and 43 minutes. Austin shaved nearly five and a half hours off of his time! We caught up with Austin to learn more about the experience and her plans for the rest of the year.

Words and photos by Austin Killips

Since this was my first bikepacking event, I had no real frame of reference for what I was embarking on other than an understanding that it would be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was correct on that front, and I think it was a really healthy attitude to carry into the effort. I cherished every moment of speed that the trail offered but always had an expectation that something unimaginably difficult was somewhere around the corner. There are just enough sections of respite to keep you motivated, but there are certainly moments, like the hike-a-bike out of the Mogollon Rim, that can start to test your patience. I’d say the trail challenged me in ways I couldn’t anticipate, but since I expected the worst, I was always prepared to keep pushing through the umpteenth nightmare section of the trail.

  • Austin Killips Arizona Trail Record
  • Austin Killips Arizona Trail Record

I opted for the AZT first for a few reasons: it was about to be rideable as I was leaving my stint in Colorado, and I was itching to start this project. I have a wonderful network of friends here in Tucson, so I had a place to crash, an opportunity to see people near and dear to me, and a window to recon a few hundred miles of the wholly unfamiliar course. The AZT is also supposedly the hardest of the races, and I figured if I was going to tackle this triple crown thing, I might as well rip the band-aid off and get the roughest one out of the way first instead of dreading it until the fall (I was also hopeful the some lingering fitness from a winter spent in the backcountry on skis would pay dividends with all the hiking and portaging).

  • Austin Killips Arizona Trail Record
  • Austin Killips Arizona Trail Record

On the whole, it was a really positive experience; I haven’t gone deep in this capacity since the UCI ruling upended my life and career last July. It was really special to reaffirm my love for going fast on the bike, and I’m incredibly excited for a future in this corner of the sport. I hope to tackle the triple crown if I can make it happen financially and my tentative future plans are to scoot up to elevation and get another training block in at elevation before hopefully knocking out the Colorado Trail sometime in July (assuming conditions allow).



Event Recaps

Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.