|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – June 2008
On your mark, get set ... hike. Inside a 5,600-mile footrace on the country's hardest trail.
The pair's final kick was made doubly weird by the fact that hiking–of any distance–is generally the least competitive of sports. Indeed, when the Onion and Magoo briefly met before starting their journeys, the two men had agreed that they might ultimately walk together. Share the trail and the glory, as it were. But that was many miles ago, and now the end was enticingly close. Put yourself in their boots: Come within a couple of hundred miles or so of being the first to do the whole shebang twice, without stopping, and who wouldn't have winning on one's mind?
"Though you started 25 days after Francis, the current projection shows you returning to the Mexican border only three days after him," a scorekeeping friend had written in a goading email to the Onion. "You kick ass!"
Mr. Magoo, meanwhile, was leaving the impression that he was staggering to the finish. "I figure that the earliest I could get there [the U.S.-Mexico border] is October 31," he wrote in an email to the Onion during the hike's later stages, at a time when the Onion believed that he himself could finish around October 30. "Daylight is vanishing …."
Thus, when the Onion polished off seven miles of County Road 603 on that October 18 morning and strode into tiny Pie Town, New Mexico, he felt pretty good. If he could average 30 miles per day–a tall request for just about anyone besides this freakish hiker–he might just catch Magoo.