When Greenville University alumna Liz Anjos decided to train for a hike, her goal was aimed a little higher than conquering GU’s annual 5-mile All-College Hike. On August 27th, 2020, Anjos accomplished a record-breaking feat, hiking northbound on the 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail (AT) in 51 days, 16 hours, and 30 minutes. Her official record titles stand as the fastest south to north hike by a woman on the Appalachian Trail and the second-fastest woman to complete the hike as well.
As a former cross country runner at GU and participant in road races and marathons, 34-year-old Anjos is no stranger to endurance training. When she decided to take her talents to the next level, she knew she wanted to attempt to snag the record along the way. However, this record-setting journey was no walk in the park for Anjos. Months of preparation and planning built the foundation for her success. She prepared for the trail by starting at 4:00 a.m., hiking as long as she could before it got dark, and repeating this process for days at a time. Out on the trail, Anjos was supported by Warren Doyle who has walked the AT 18 times. He was in charge of driving the van that would stop at meeting points on the trail where Anjos could eat and sleep for a few hours a night before taking off once again. Anjos averaged 43 miles a day on the AT, hiking as long as she could before needing to regain her energy for the next day.
In October, Anjos joined Coach George Barber’s Exercise Physiology class for a zoom call to give insight on the effects the hike had on her body. For much of the trail, Anjos battled shin splints from the pressure put on the muscles in her legs. Using hiking poles helped to alleviate some of that pressure while trekking through the rocky parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania. While she almost made it through without too serious of an injury, Anjos made a mistake towards the end of the trail. “I was in New Hampshire which is the second-to-last state in the trail and I had hiked through a muddy, wet section that day. When I came in for the night, I was so tired. I had bandages on my feet from random blisters that I had acquired, and I forgot to take them off to let my feet dry out. The next morning, I had infections in both of my big toes.” Anjos powered through this injury and made her final push to the end of the trail in Maine.
Anjos said that while she is proud of her accomplishment, she is not so sure that hiking the AT again is in her future. However, she plans to keep hiking other trails near Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband, André. She now coaches high school runners and has founded a running club. Regardless of her future in hiking, she has made it in the history books with her triumphs. For more information and to keep up with Anjos’ next adventures, check out her blog, Mercury on the Run.
Media by Dustin Bankowski.