Thru-Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis Joins President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

Outdoor recreation is getting a little more representation in government.

Jennifer Pharr Davis’s adventures as a long-distance hiker have carried her thousands of miles across the US and six continents. Her latest achievement is taking her into government.

Pharr Davis, a former fastest known time holder for the Appalachian Trail, is the newest member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, an advisory committee aimed at promoting active lifestyles in the United States. If you’re in your twenties or older, you may remember it as the group behind the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, a standardized competition that had grade school kids compete to earn awards in challenges like pull-ups, the shuttle run, and the 50-yard dash. 

In an Instagram post, she called the appointment “very unexpected and very exciting.”

“I am looking forward to being a voice for outdoor recreation and public lands on a council that has traditionally been focused on mainstream sports,” she wrote. “Let’s take a hike America!”

Pharr Davis, who said she was a registered independent, said no one had asked her about her voting history or political leanings during the vetting process. Her term will last two years, assuming that the incoming Biden administration—which has the ability to choose its own council members—opts to keep her on. (Pharr Davis was appointed by the current administration.) She joins council members including New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor, and celebrity doctor and television personality Mehmet Oz.

Pharr Davis, 37, set the supported FKT for the Appalachian Trail in 2011, covering the trail’s 2,100-odd miles in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. She’s also the author of six books, including the memoir Becoming Odyssa and the family hiking manual Families on Foot.