Mountaineer turned ultrarunner Ben Clark has set an impressive goal for himself this summer. The man who has climbed multiple Himalayan peaks, including Everest, will be facing an entirely different kind of challenge when he sets out to complete Nolan's 14 – a 100-mile long route in Colorado that features 90,000 feet of vertical gain, linking 14 different mountains of 14,000 feet (4267 meters) in height or more. If he can complete the route in less than 60 hours, he'll add his name to a short, but distinguished, list of other runners who have managed to finish the grueling run as well.
The state of Colorado has 54 mountains that rise above 14,000 feet. Locally they are known as the "14'ers" and many climbers take great pride in adding some or all of those peaks to their resume. One of those climbers was a man named Jim Nolan who discovered that the highest number of those 14'ers that a person could bag in a 100-mile stretch was 14. Thus the idea of Nolan's 14 was born with the challenge of completing a 100-mile long run up and over all 14 peaks in a quick of a time as possible.
The concept of Nolan's 14 was strong enough to attract a field of ultrarunners for an unofficial race that ran between 1999 and 2001. Since that time, only seven runners have managed to complete the full course, navigating between Mt. Massive and Mt. Shavano along a path of their own choosing. This freedom of route finding allows the runner look for the most efficient way to cover the 100 miles while still topping out on as many of the 14'ers along the way as they possibly can. Ben hopes to get all 14 and still finish in under 60 hours.
Training for such an event is no small feat and last week in a post to the Osprey Packs Blog, Ben shared some thoughts on what he has been doing for the past two months to prepare for this epic run. He has spent a great deal of time in recent weeks scouting the route and picking the lines that will work best for him so that he can cover the distance in as fast of a time as possible. The best part? He isn't doing this to raise funds for a charity or to draw attention to one of his sponsors. He's taking on the Nolan's 14 strictly for the challenge of it. He wants to see if he can do it in under 60 hours with no other motivations other than just pushing himself to test the limits of his own endurance.
Ben will begin his Nolan's 14 run next Sunday, August 25 and with any luck, he'll wrap it up two-and-a-half day later. I'll keep you posted on his results. Good luck Ben!