Showing posts with label Ben Clark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ben Clark. Show all posts

Pursuing a Speed Record on the Hardest Mountain Trek in the World

A few months back, a team of endurance athletes set out to Bhutan to attempt to set a new speed record for trail running along the Snowman Trek, largely considered to be one of the toughest trekking routes in the entire world. The goal was to complete the entire route in less than 14 days – fave days faster than the previously best known time. Along the way they faced tough trails, lots of altitude gain and lost, the thin air of the mountains, altitude sickness, brutal weather conditions, and more. Now, a few months after the expedition wrapped up, National Geographic Adventure has the story of this daring adventure in the High Himalaya.

The team that set out to run the length of the Snowman Trek consisted of endurance athletes Ben Clark, Anna Frost, Tim Olson, and Chris Ord. They had a support team with them as well to help carry gear and supplies, but even getting a group of locals to help with the logistics was a challenge. No one wanted to join the team, as all of the experienced guides in Bhutan thought that their plan was impossible to complete in the time that they had set for themselves. The original trek leaders and support crew quit right before the team was preparing to embark on their quest, leaving them scrambling to find others who were at least willing to try.

But the finally did get underway, and the details of their story are fascinating and at times harrowing. I don't want to spoil too many of the details, as the Nat Geo story – written by veteran endurance athlete Mat Hart – is incredibly well done. I will say this however, the group did manage to set a new speed record on the Snowman, and in the process redefined what can be done on that intensely demanding route.

Read the entire story here. It is a good one, and well worth a look. I'll be thinking about this group of runners when I set out for my own nightly run later today.

Mountaineer and Ultra-Runner Ben Clark Attempting Nolan's 14 This Weekend

Mountaineer and ultra-runner Ben Clark is once again gearing up to face a challenge that has proved to be more difficult than summiting Everest. Today, Ben has launched another attempt to complete the Nolan's 14 endurance challenge, an incredibly tough endeavor that has eluded him in the past, and has become one of the benchmarks for long distance ultra-running over the past couple of years.

To complete Nolan's Challenge a runner must reach the summit of 14 different mountains in Colorado's Sawatch Range between Mt. Massive and Mt. Shavano. The route they pick between those two mountains is entirely of their own choosing, and they can begin or end on either peak as well. This versatility and freedom is part of what makes Nolan's great, as it allows the runner to approach the challenge any way they like, but in order to get official credit for completing the challenge, they must finish in 60 hours. During that time, they'll cover a distance of about 100 miles (160 km).

This isn't the first time Ben has attempted Nolan's, as we have followed several of his attempts in the past. Most of those attempts were ended by poor – sometimes potentially dangerous – weather, which only helps to underscore another one of the obstacles that must be overcome for an endurance athlete to have a chance and completing the route.

Nolan's 14 gained wider exposure earlier this summer when Anna Frost and Missy Gosney were successful in their attempt back in August. But controversy soon followed when a debate broke out on where exactly the challenge ends – the summit of the final peek or the trailhead. The ladies apparently celebrated too long at the end of their run, and didn't reach the trailhead until after the 60 hour time cut-off. I'm sure if Ben reaches that point, he'll be sure to leave little room for questions on whether or not he was successful. (For the record, the rules on this unofficial Nolan's 14 page say that it is 60 hours to the final summit.)

I want to with Ben good luck on this latest attempt. I hope he finally knocks of this challenge. It is one that he has been working on for some time, and has even made a film about. You can check out the trailer for the film below to get a better sense of what Nolan's 14 is all about.

Nolan's 14 from Pheonix and Ash Productions on Vimeo.

Nat Geo Covers Nolan's 14 – One of the Toughest Endurance Challenges in the World

We've covered the Nolan's 14 ultra-run on a couple of occasions in the past, thanks in no small part to our friend Ben Clark's attempts to complete the run on a couple of occasions. For those who don't recall, Nolan's 14 is a grueling endurance challenge that sends trail runners on a hundred-mile long traverse of 14 peaks in Colorado, all of which are over 14,000 feet (4267 meters) in height. The endurance athletes who attempt Nolan's can take any route they choose between those mountains, but they do have to summit each of them along the way. Oh, and to be successful in the challenge, they must also finish the entire run in under 60 hours.

Yesterday, National Geographic Adventure also ran a piece on Nolan's 14, bringing this incredible challenge to a much larger audience for the first time. The article spoke to Ben about his most recent attempt at Nolan's back in September of 2014, as well as a number of other notable ultra-runners who have been humbled by the undertaking. That list includes the likes of Anton Krupicka, who had to abandon his attempt back in 2013 after six peaks. A series of physical ailments caught up with Anton, preventing him from going any further.

The article takes a look at the origins of Nolan's 14, which began as a challenge amongst friends Blake Wood and Fred Vance back in 1999. The idea was to combine ultrarunning, mountaineering and orienteering into one very tough event that meant to be a mostly personal challenge for themselves and other endurance athletes that they knew. They consulted with mountaineer Jim Nolan, who tipped them off about the line of 14 peaks in the Sawatch Range that would eventually become known as Nolan's 14.

It took until 2001 for anyone to actually complete the challenge, which is when Wood, and three other runners, finished the route. In the years since then, only 11 other people have complete the challenge in under 60 hours, which has helped to create the legend of Nolan's 14 within the endurance community.

The entire article is well written, and provides some great insights into Nolan's 14 from the athletes who have done it, or are working on completing it. You can also learn more about the event through Ben Clark's Nolan's 14 film, the trailer for which you'll find below. It will give you just a hint at what all the fuss is about, and the incredible dedication it takes to complete this challenge.


Nolan's 14 - Trailer from Pheonix and Ash Productions on Vimeo.