I made it to a little over 20K. Kinda a mixed bag for me though over all, as I didn't leave it all on the line like I really wanted too. I had to take a couple of long breaks (11 hours in total), to get my mind back into it and ended up finishing DFL.
I was mighty proud to be the only solo snowboarder out there, and I know next year there will be more of us as I have set the bar for you guys to challenge and demolish. Since I was the first to try it, they tell me it is a world record (said sheepishly), now it is your turn if you dare. It is up for grabs so you better be there. 20K in a day - no problem I know there are a number of you guys out there who can do it. Next year, it will be at least 30K so you better get it going! I am throwing down the gauntlet.
I didn't split the whole race - I hiked about half of it. I can tell you that I was faster on the split, although those laps were at the start. My first lap was 38 minutes, with one tranny and number two was 46 minutes with 2 trannys. The fastest guys were at 31 minutes. I could see being about 5 minutes faster on each lap if I was in better shape (fighting off cold) and in race form.
Last year I wanted to do the powder keg, but was just coming out of the haze of major surgery. This year, I'll be there, and am shooting for 2:30. I want to see the terror in the ATers eyes when they look around and see some big old ugly splitboard bearing down on them!!!
Glenwood Springs - Last February, a doctor told Jonathan Baker his testicular cancer was back. It was in his lymph nodes, and he had a 50 percent chance to live.
On the same weekend a chemo-ravaged year later, the 37-year-old from Salt Lake City proved to his 6-year-old son that quitting is never an option. Baker, with his snowboard strapped to his back and a year-old surgical scar on his chest, climbed 20,215 vertical feet in 13 laps up Sunlight Mountain Resort in 24 hours, finishing dead last among 16 solo men who chose to trudge up and down the mountain as many times as they could in a day.
To little George Baker and his younger brother, Henry, Dad finished first.
"I just had to show him that no matter how bad it gets ... you've got to keep going," said Baker, a patent agent for a biotech company and graduate of Western State in Gunnison. I just kept thinking about what I've been through, thinking about my sons, thinking about trying to live right.
"That last lap I was really hurting, but I was like, 'Where were you last year at this time?' Man, I was one sorry sucker. That put the hurt in perspective. I'm pretty sure I'm on the good side of that 50 percent now."
The inaugural 24 Hours of Sunlight drew more than 100 racers. Many of those raced in teams, sharing the burden of hustling upward and racing downward nonstop while the planet notched another spin.
The two- and five-person teams labored, no question. Temperatures under the full moon Saturday night into Sunday morning dipped well below zero. The ski down was icy and dark. The energy-stealing climb seemed steeper every circuit. But it was the soloists who left all jaws agape with their peerless determination and fortitude-enriched effort.
For most people, 24 hours of perpetual outdoor toiling means something has gone horribly awry and survival is likely in the balance. For this past weekend's solo athletes - 16 sinewy men and one extraordinary woman, Polly McLean of Salt Lake City - filling every moment of a day with snowy slog is a good time.
"If you have a day like these guys are going to have on this hill, it's called 'Into Thin Air,"' said Mike Marolt, the Aspen legend who has skied Everest and organized the one-of-a-kind, first race up and down the homey hill, referring to the book that details March 1996 when eight climbers died in a single day on the world's tallest mountain.
"This is going to be so brutal," said Marolt, as he prepared to sample his creation at 10 a.m. Saturday. He bagged 20,000 vertical feet - his goal - in 13 laps before going to sleep like normal people do after 14 hours of grueling work.
The ones who continued trudging were hardly normal. And the least normal of the ski-shod athletes were Canadian Greg Hill and Crested Buttian Jimmy Faust. The duo - who teamed up somewhere in the darkest, delusional hours of their Herculean endeavor early Sunday - climbed for 50,000 vertical feet. When they skied down from their 32nd lap, their hands united overhead in a simultaneous finish, they broke a world record for the most vertical climbed by skiers in a24-hour span. The pair never stopped moving during their ordeal. Hill, the Revelstoke, British Columbia, backcountry skiing monarch who last year made headlines by climbing 1 million vertical feet in a season, waited until he had 25,000 feet under his belt and was on his 15th lap to urinate. Even then, he said, he remained in motion.
"I had a few mantras I kept telling myself," said the 30-year-old who recently became a father. "Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Breathe and believe. Breathe and believe. Breathe and believe.
"I said those almost every step."
With each of those steps, Hill heard the steady ticking and clicking of another skier on his heels. At first it was Gunnison nordic skier Bryan Wickenhauser, who stayed within a few minutes of Hill and his push for a 50,000- foot world record for the first 12 hours. Then Wickenhauser faded, dropping from the race and Hill's incredibly brisk 30- to 45-minute laps before 10 p.m. Saturday. But the scratch of skis behind Hill remained as Faust took on the dogged pursuit of perhaps the strongest ski climber in the world.
Sometime around 2 a.m. Sunday the two joined forces in a most un-Faustian deal. This was a down-the-middle partnership that delivered power to both climbers.
"When you are alone out in the cold, in the dark, it's easy for your mind to wander," said Faust, a 39-year-old veteran champion of the annual two-manned 40-mile Elk Mountain Traverse ski race between his home of Crested Butte and Aspen. "When you have a partner, it's easier to stay focused."
The world-record finish gave Marolt's dream the momentum it needs to thrive as an annual event. His push to create a one-of-a-kind twist on ski racing appeared to be floundering only two weeks ago, when a mere 11 racers had signed up and no one had enlisted for the $125-a-plate gala that kicked off the event, which was a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis and Vail's Heuga Center.
Just like Leadville's famous 100-mile bike and running races have made the former mining town synonymous with endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Sunlight will put the humble hill on the map for endurance ski racing, Marolt said.
"This event has the cache it needs, and throw in the world record, it's unbelievable," said Marolt, repeating that last word a dozen times in a couple minutes as his success sunk in.
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:47 pm Posts: 83 Location: Salt Lake City
Good to see you over here Baker! Way to go on breaking 20K, that is awesome! Still looking forward to riding with you, it's snowing and should get really deep this weekend since I'm on my way to Moab. Let me know if you're planning on a DP with powderpond tomorrow (Thursday).
I would like that, I have just been doing long tours on weekends, I like to speed things up as it gets closer. I did it the first year it came, I think it is a bit shorter this year, not much vert more of sprint. Let me know, I am a weekend warrior so my days are somewhat limited.
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2004 5:07 am Posts: 607 Location: Montana
Anything I've ever done is miniscule in comparison & I'm inspired now as never before. Thanks Kill for the Denver posting - truly amazing accomplishment.
This is one of those stories that can be logged into the recesses for the moments when in BC you start thinking its getting rough & knarly. Then as soon as this story recomposes itself I'll think -"what in the hell am I complaining about?!"