Friday, August 21, 2015

Controversy Brews Over Nolan's 14 Run

Yesterday I posted the news that two women – Anna Frost and Missy Gosney – became the first female ultrarunners to complete the grueling Nolan's 14 challenge. This very difficult endeavor requires athletes to cover more than 100 miles, and bag 14 different 14,000 foot (4267 meter) peaks in Colorado's Sawatch Range in under 60 hours. The duo had apparently completed that task on Tuesday of this week, but now there is some controversy brewing as to whether or not they finished at the proper location in the time required.

Outside Online has the scoop on this story, but essentially there is debate in the ultrarunning community over just where Nolan's 14 ends. Some say it is at the final summit, while others say it is at the trailhead. Frost and Gosney reached their final summit on Mt. Shavano in 57 hours and 55 minutes, and then took time to celebrate at the top. By the time they actually descended down to the trailhead, the 60 hour time limit had expired.

Matt Mahoney is the unofficial record keeper for Nolan's 14, and his site indicates that the run ends on the final summit. But most other ultrarunners who have attempted the challenge have listed their times from trailhead to trailhead. It is also argued that the intent for the original creators of the event were for it to go from trailhead to trailhead as well, beginning and ending at the Fish Hatchery near Leadville or Blank Cabin near Salida, depending on which direction you are traveling.

Frost told Outside that she and Gosney were perfectly happy with their effort, and that they felt they had completed the run according to the rules. The ladies would have had enough time to descend to the trailhead had they departed from the summit of Shavano more quickly, but instead they elected to stay on top and celebrate with their support team. In her mind, they completed Nolan's 14 according to the official rules.

Mahoney's website doesn't have Frost and Gosney's run listed just yet, although past attempts are recorded on the site. Each of those includes the number of peaks that a runner notched in the time allowed as the indicator of how much of the run they managed to complete. So, for instance, a runner may have bagged 8 peaks in their attempt at the challenge before they ran out of time or retired from the chase. If this method of recording the run holds true, than Frost and Gosney will be credited with achieving 14 summits, which should equate to success. But, it seems there will always be those who question their effort since they didn't reach the trailhead in the specified time.

Either way, it was a fine effort on what has become one of the truly great challenges in ultrarunning.

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