I thru hiked the AT MEGA back in 2010. Wish I had got into ultrarunning and trail running earlier than I did (last year I ran my first 30k trail race, in May I'll be doing my first 50k true ultra). Honestly I don't think anything can truly replicate the awesomeness of doing a thru but with my schedule of work+taking care of a young child running far is about the only thing I can do in my limited timespan (1-4 hours a day training) that can somewhat replicate thru hiking that isn't drinking heavily. I'm hoping to do a solid 3-4 50ks a year going forward but knowing me I'll be throwing in 50 or 100 milers in the next couple years after I deem 50ks as too easy or something. Good luck with your runs!