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Knoxville man is in the Smoky Mountains trying to break a record

Jeff Woody plans to hike all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the fastest known time

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn — Jeff Woody started his journey July 23. 

His goal is to not only hike every trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

That would earn him a spot in the elite 900 Milers Club.

But he also wants to complete the quest in record time. 

"The fastest known time for completion of all that is 43 days, and that was set by Benny Braden back in 2017," he said. "I'm trying to break that record 43 days. And Benny has been very supportive and very helpful and encouraging So, so far so good I'm ahead of the record pace and things are going, relatively well."

Credit: GSMNP 900 Miler Club
Great Smoky Mountains 900 Miler Club official badge

Jeff Woody is already an ultra marathon runner.

He also already hiked a lot of the trails before setting his most recent goal. 

"Some of these trails are highly overgrown and you know you just know that going in and you prepare yourself mentally for it, and if I didn't have that, it would really be a tough time, I think," he said. 

Credit: Jeff Woody
Jeff Woody is going for the Fastest Known Time to hike all the trails in the GSMNP

He knocked out the trails on the North Carolina side first. Now he's covering about 30 miles a day in Tennessee.

"After three weeks I as about a hundred miles ahead of where I would need to be so things are looking pretty good for now," he said. 

At night, Jeff usually goes home to West Knoxville for a good meal and sound sleep. Then he wakes up and hits the trails again. 

"The endorphins kick in and, and there's so much beauty around you in this gem of a park we have here, that, you know, you just kind of get rolling and everything is great so every day is kind of a high when you're on the trail," he said. 

There have been some setbacks. He hurt his leg and had to take two days off. And a bear got a little too close. 

He described what happened next in a video post on his Facebook page: "About that time I stepped into a yellow jacket nest and those dang things were all over me and they must have stung me about 10 times."

All his yelling scared away the bear. 

He said, "In the grand scheme of things, those are not real problems. Real problems are if you twist an ankle or if you pull a muscle or something like that.  And I've been really lucky so far that I've not run into those problems."

He documents his progress on official web tracking sites. 

Setting the record for fastest known time is within reach.

"I was looking at the plan last night and said is it really possible I have only about six days left in this thing?"

It's possible he could break the record the last week in August. And when he does...

"I can tell you this, I'll probably have a beer, for sure." 

Jeff Woody is also part of a new race team that promotes Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. 

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