Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Endurance Athlete's Bucket List

Spring is in the air, if not in northeast Iowa, then certainly in my home state of Colorado. With temperatures ranging from the high fifties to the mid sixties, I'm told that athletes everywhere are rejoicing after a long winter spent on the trainer and treadmill. All this talk makes me excited, I'll be heading back to my home state soon, after midterm week wraps up here at Luther College. Which is why, to celebrate, I've decided to compile a list of the must-do events for all endurance athletes. The first list is a general one, it's more of my personal bucket list of things I'd like to do before my body gives out, the second targets specific events that I feel are on a lot of bucket lists. Without further ado, my Endurance Athlete Bucket List, Version 2014.


1. Competitively Complete Every Triathlon Distance: I've competed in every distance of triathlon except Iron-distance. However, the goal here is not only to finish the race, it's to be relatively competitive in my age group. That can be interpreted in a number of ways, for me, I'll be aiming for the top 10% of the entire field. Others might not be satisfied until they are the top 1%. 

2. Run 100 miles: Unless you've been living under a rock for, well; your entire life, you know about the Leadville 100. Widely considered one of the toughest races on the face of the planet, it attracts a special kind of athlete.

3. Race Abroad: It might not seem like a huge deal for those who have a well established, fiscally stable life, but traveling and racing abroad is a huge aspiration for an 18 year old college student!

4. Win A Race: Again, for older, more experienced athletes, this might not seem like such a big deal. But I'd really like to win a race outright, just once.

5. Spartan Race/Tough Mudder: Okay, this one might not be on everyone's list, but come on. As triathletes, we are well suited to these. They make a huge deal about the obstacles on course, but at the end of the day you still have to run to and from them. And triathletes naturally have a real good amount of functional strength. Some obstacles would need specific training, but I'm confident that any competitive triathlete could go out there and kill the course.
The faster you are through these, the less they hurt, or so Matt tells me. 
6. Run A Massive Relay: If you're from northern Colorado, odds are you've at least heard of the Wild West Relay. Teams get together and run legs of four to six miles with team of about ten people, trying to get from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs the fastest. And from what I'm told, it's an absolute blast.

7. The Color Run: Okay, I know a lot of you will turn your noses up at this. Not timed? Lame. No awards? Lame. But really, this is one of the most entertaining "races" you could go to. Not only is everyone super chill there, it's more of a social event than a workout. You can always bike beforehand and not be "that guy."
See? Even I look pretty happy!

The Specifics

1. Ironman World Championships: This is a site called "TriLoveland" so of course the first event on the list of specifics when it comes to my bucket list of racing is racing in Kona. 140.6 miles of wind, heat, and humidity, along with 1700 of the best athletes in the world. 

2. Norseman Tri: For those of you that don't know about this race, let me give the quick explanation. This is an Iron-distance triathlon. You're probably thinking, "Big deal, it's still 140.6 miles." 
Yes, however, this is 140.6 miles of pain, starting with a freezing swim and ending with a mountain summit. However, it also includes some of the most picturesque scenery you could ever imagine while delivering the most painful challenge some will ever face. For that combination, it is another Iron-distance triathlon to include on this list. 

3. Leadville 100: It's only fitting that I mentioned the Leadville 100 above in my general bucket list. However, even being from Colorado, this is still a race regarded by many as being for the "freaks." There's a reason why: I know more that have failed than have succeeded at the Leadville 100, and by succeeded, I mean finished. This race is ridiculous. So ridiculous that it was documented and immortalized in the wildly popular Born to Run. Not only is the course insanely difficult, it's held at 10,000 feet in elevation, higher than many mountains in other states. Bring on the hypoxia-induced hallucinations. 

4. Ironman 70.3 World Championships: I considered leaving this off the list, but after thinking, I decided that I wanted to keep it. Why would I consider taking it off? I really wanted to race this in Vegas, but unfortunately, Ironman has announced that the 70.3 Worlds will be rotating through various cities beginning next year. Still, Vegas remains a dream. 

Viva Las Vegas!

5. It's late and my computer is about to die, so I'll toss one more on before publication: Nolan's 14. This one probably comes as a surprise, particularly if you read my general list. No where did it say anything about Nolan's 14 or even 14ers in general. However, being from Colorado, I feel obligated to post this one. A reported 15% of the people that attempt this feat succeed. Ponder that for a moment because in order to do fourteen 14ers in less than 60 hours. Depending on the route, this can be somewhere between 88 and 104 miles. The Sawatch Mountain Range serves as the course, starting at Mt. Massive and ending at Mt. Shavano or vice versa. With ~44,000 feet of climbing, this a true mountain man's race and one to throw on the bucket list for a few years down the road. 

Legendary trail runner Anton Krupicka (also pictured above in the LT 100 post) after realizing that his attempt at Nolan's 14 wasn't meant to be. 

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