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Karel Sabbe

Karel Sabbe

Making Every Mistake Imaginable and Learning from Those Mistakes to Pulverise Records

2023 was the (sports) year of Karel Sabbe. First, the Belgian dentist finished the Barkley Marathons, a virtually impossible race in the US state of Tennessee that consists of five loops of just over 20 miles and of which the participants also have to cope with 18,000 altimeters. Oh, and they have to reach the finish line within sixty hours. Sabbe became the 17th mortal to do so.

And less than five months later, Sabbe pulverised the Pacific Crest Trail record, an awe-inspiring hiking trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. The previous record stood at 51 days, 16 hours and 55 minutes. The dentist did it in 46 days, 12 hours and 50 minutes. Meaning he walked an average of 94 kilometres per day, after which he declared utterly deadpan that he “never felt any pain.” Sabbe, however, will also tell you that in the thousands of kilometres he has walked in his lifetime, he has made just about every mistake imaginable. But also, that he has learned from those mistakes.