Fourth annual 24 Hours of Sunlight is officially a done deal! Congratulations all! The Sunlight Ski Resort (especially our ski patrol), and thanks all competitors and support people. What a spirited couple of days — nothing like it!
Newspaper article about Eileen Wysocki in 14 Hours of Sunlight.
Ok, this thing is wrapping up. McCoy takes second, Andrew in third (men’s duo). Funny thing, Andrew gets done with his 26 laps and realizes he needs more for his personal goal of 40,000 feet. He looks at his altimeter with zombie mind and says, hey, I need 70 more feet. We stagger up the hill with him taking pictures and yucking it up. After a few minutes, Andrew looks at his altimeter and says “whoops, my math is wrong, I need 900′!” Poor guy. He’s so totally worked I know the thought of 900 would be like 6,000 on a normal day. But off he goes pushing that Sisyphean boulder up Sunlight Ski resort, one eye on the altimeter…
Big news at this point is Dina Mishev from Jackson moving into first place, woman’s solo. And of course our valley boys from Aspen Highlands look like they’ll take men’s duo (also known as the endless sprint class). Eric Sullivan got a few hours sleep and now he’s not messing around in men’s solo. We’d advise him to quit and let Andrew take first. For some reason he’s not listening to our advice
An interesting strategy arises at this point. The race is won by your vertical, as a total of your laps, but the lap count starts at the bottom of the course. Thus, you can scan in at the moment the race ends (11:00) and take another round nearly as slow as you want and it still counts as one of your laps. You only worry about this when you’re neck to neck with someone, since if they nail this cutoff and you miss it, they’ll get a lap on you and there is nothing you can do about it. Andrew is in that situation with McCoy. I’m sure they’re both wasted, perhaps they could meet at the timing table at 11:00 and both agree to quit instead of take what for them would be the torture lap? Stay tuned.
More glitches than usual in the timing system. Turns out Sullivan’s last loooong lap was actually two, so he’s still one lap ahead of Andrew. Oh well. Anything could happen.
Racers are saying the course froze up into some fairly challenging hardpan. Good skiers have more advantage than usual and are probably picking up a few minutes on the down over folks who dial it back for survival. We keep hearing stories of the “roller where you catch air.” If that sounds good, remember we’ll have this race again next year and you can try it too.
Can we see a bit of light in the eastern sky? Polly and Andrew continue in second and third place for their solo classes. We want them on the podium! We’ve been brewing a nice English tea for Andrew that he seems to like, sweetened with Cytomax. Ultra racers take note!
The witching hour is almost over. Andrew still in second, Sully headed for his room so perhaps we can get Andrew into first at least temporarily, or permanently? Problem for Andrew is getting calories in as he gets nauseous. The answer is obvious to Courtney and I, don’t eat the “chicken” soup that comes in those little bags, it transmogrifies into something from a zombie movie. See photo below.
Polly is almost in a comfortable 3rd position. Almost. She’s staying more hydrated this year than last so we’re optimistic.
Oh man, eleven hours to go! Poly and Andrew pulled in together. Our support tent is better organized than it’s ever been. Water heating stove in one corner, fairly large propane radiant heater against a wall, carved out shelf where the skiers can pull in near the front door and stand without risk of falling over or slipping, several electric lanterns for ambient light. Foods requested recently have been Miso soup, chicken soup, and decaf black tea mixed with Cytomax.
Good race to watch is men’s 5 person open. Our friends the Basalt Pirates are still in third. But things are getting tight. They’re trying to bang out some fast laps to at least keep their position. But with around 14 hours to go, they’ve got some work ahead.
Polly still in third, amazing to see Andrew just one lap behind Sullivan! Go Andrew!
Darkness pushed in a while ago. Full moon is shining behind a layer of gauzy mist like a brides bright eyes behind a veil (did I write that, must be getting late!) Andrew’s still cranking, moved into second but he’s within seconds of Mike McCoy. Will this be a war of attrition, or speed? Truly fun to watch. I think both guys have the gear, technique and fitness. Perhaps they’ll pull ahead with faster downhills? Better transitions? Will one guy quit for a while?
Eileen Wysocki is on her way to her snowshoe world record, getting her 9th lap in at the moment. My guess is she’ll start needing some breaks now as the pounding of running downhill on snowshoes is a bit brutal compared to arcing down on a pair of planks.
Having huge problems staying connected to the web for blogging updates. I’ll do the best I can. Bad connections, bane of the problogger.
Oh well. Tim Kelley from Salewa/Dynafit NA showed up and we were talking about how cool and un-industrial Ski Sunlight is. I guess crumby internet and almost zilch cell phone comes with the territory. Enjoy while it lasts?
Talk about wearing different hats. I’m up here in the condos blogging, then doing surgery on Dynafit bindings, then noticing that the computer had messed up Andrew’s time and put him in 4th instead of 2nd! Well I ran down to the timing tent and got that fixed. Now our man is in podium land but being chased by young gun Mike McCoy. Polly is in third, neck to neck with the gal in second, Eileen Wysocki, doing the whole thing on shoes and possibly setting a world record on snowshoes..
By the way, try googling any of the athletes you see in this blog or in the realtime results — makes for some great reading.
(Original post below, chrono blog above.)
24 Hours of Sunlight is a unique, exciting, and a world-class event with world-class competitors. Eric Sullivan is back, last year’s record breaker at 34 laps, 51,068 vertical feet. A number of other solo contenders are here as well, and the larger teams are fun to watch as their race requires a huge amount of strategy. But my favorite class for spectating is the duos. Strategy isn’t as important for those guys, just guts, as they have to sprint like zombies on meth for the full 24 hours — with only short breaks compared to the larger teams.
I’m sitting in the recreation room of the Brettelberg Condos. If it wasn’t for the drain pipe that drips on you when you walk in the door, I’d consider buying one of these slopeside deals at current dropping prices. But I think they’d have to go lower than the current bottom of $97,000, or fix the pipe.
The race announcer’s voice sneaks in here. He’s enjoying talking about Sullivan leading the solo class again, and how Brian Johnson (duo, see the realtime results via link above) is creeping ahead of Brian Harder (duo), but both are still close enough that a fall or botched transition could change the stack.
Lots of enthusiastic spectators milling around. It’s fun to watch these races because they last long enough to try different vantage points, sit down for lunch, and overall enjoy a relaxed spectating pace that’s quite different from watching other forms of competition. Adding to that, you get to see the leaders over and over again, and if you want to climb up the course or take the lifts, you can spend the day checking out different sections of the course and watch how the top guys handle the steep ruts on the downhill (and watch people on goofy gear such as snowlerblades try to do the same). Thank God they made a rule this year against sledding down the course, as the runners were starting to create a dangerous situation in trying to do too much butt sliding while mixed with the skiers.
The event continues to grow. They registered 292 racers this year, around 80 started the race (because of teams not everyone starts).
The course is better fenced and well managed. Nice to see, as the free-for-all of the first year was not pretty and could have been tragic. You start up a slope that’s just a bit too steep for skate skis. At times the angle kicks back, then steepens for a few hundred vertical leading to a tortuously flat section at the turnaround tent 1,502 vertical feet above the start.
As well as blogging my fingertips off, I’m here as support for Polly and Andrew McLean, along with their friend Rick Angel. Right now Courtney Phillips is manning the tent while I try and make content. My wife Lisa will be here soon as well. I’ll take as much night shift as I can physically handle. After years of mountaineering, I own the night. Or at least I think I do (grin). But after fighting a bad cold all week, I might not be as tough as my dreams say, so we shall see. The sleeping bag waits just in case.