24 Hours of Sunlight changed to 12 Hours of Boredom

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 23, 2009      

24 Hours of Sunlight was exciting, it was cool, it promoted a relatively unknown ski resort with classic organic marketing, it tested uphill skiers like nothing else — the name was even a double pun (see below). But that wasn’t enough. According to the Aspen Daily News:

“Organizers changed the format because of a conflict at the base area with hotel rooms. The weekend of Feb. 28 was the only weekend it made sense to have the race so as not to conflict with other endurance races, but it is also when Sunlight is playing host to one of its biggest groups of the season, according to sales and marketing manager Dylan Lewis. It made sense to shorten the race period so contestants wouldn’t need a hotel room at the base, as most contestants did in the 24-hour race.”

I’m suspecting this is just spin, and the fact is that since race producer Real Time Marketing backed out, the money and effort to produce a 24 hour race was just too daunting for ski area staff. Ski Sunlight happened to have a large group of skiers coming at the same time, so claiming that as the cause sounds better than admitting they don’t have the cajones to produce the event — which was well attended and got tiny but good quality ski area some national PR every year. What’s more, last year we couldn’t get a room during the race, they were all booked!

24 Hours of Sunlight
Greg Hill and Brian Johnson (1st and 3rd men’s solo) on the podium after the 2007 race. Second placer Eric Sullivan was at the hospital and finished one lap behind Greg! Next year, Eric won with a new record vertical of 34 laps and 51,068 feet. The next year Brian gave Eric a run for his money, but it was Brian’s turn to go to the hospital. Tough race, but that’s the point of this sort of thing.

Oh well, it was a legend while it lasted. Perhaps another resort can pick up the torch. And to be fair, a 12 hour race will indeed be easier to go solo in. But the operative word is “easier.” It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s the point.

About the double pun: First, since the race went all night calling it 24 Hours of Sunlight was a joke on that, but more, Aspen used to have a nationally promoted hoopla event known as 24 Hours of Aspen, which involved riding the gondola and skiing down the mountain as many times as possible in 24 hours. The Aspen event was excellent (and won by local Chris Davenport one year) as well, but not near as grassroots as Sunlight, so it was fun for the little resort to make a joke on that as well — and require all the racers to hike up instead of ride the lift, he he he.

(And, I’m willing to give the 12 hour format a chance so we’ll be there if we’re in town. If nothing else, this can still be considered as a fairly challenging randonnee style race because it will continue to involve both uphill and downhill. But man, we’re bummed out about the 24 hour format going away. It was just so incredible…)

To get an idea of the spirit of this thing and what we’ll be losing, check out our extensive coverage over the past five years or so.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


17 Responses to “24 Hours of Sunlight changed to 12 Hours of Boredom”

  1. Mike October 23rd, 2009 9:20 am

    That’s a bummer, I was planning on doing this with a couple friends this year. Their explanation doesn’t pass the smell test, as who (other than locals) isn’t going to want a hotel room after 12 hours of racing?

  2. Casey October 23rd, 2009 9:37 am

    I have heard that the 12 hour format is just for this year and will be back to normal for the following year. Be patient our race will be back soon enough.

  3. Dylan October 23rd, 2009 10:15 am

    There are plenty of rooms available at the Brettelberg on Sunday night. The problem was availability on Saturday night. The feedback Sunlight recieved from the racers polled was general excitement for a 12 hour race. Hence the decision to change the race was made…

  4. Dylan October 23rd, 2009 10:19 am

    And to answer the other question… 90% of the racers come from a 30 mile radius.

  5. Tom October 23rd, 2009 11:39 am

    They didn’t call me : ) Maybe more solo racers this year. I might even try a duo. :cwy:

  6. shoveler October 23rd, 2009 12:51 pm

    Racers favored a 12 hour? Wimps.

  7. Dave October 23rd, 2009 3:46 pm

    Lou: I typically agree with you, but I have to protest over the general tenor of this post and others I’ve seen that are critical of Sunlight’s decision. Facing difficult logistical and sponsorship concerns in a crappy economy, I’m impressed that Sunlight has chosen to take up the baton and try to put together some form of endurance race to appease what is likely a small percentage of their overall ridership. Having done the race I agree that the 24 hour format is unique and fun, but having 12 hours is better than nothing (which it what it was going to be), and it does attract people who otherwise may not be able to commit to the training and sacrifice necessary to pull of a 24 hour race. And I personally think that anything that attracts more people to the sport and general concept of going uphill on their own power is good. For those who think 12 hours is wimpy-it is still a race-go harder!

  8. Jason October 23rd, 2009 4:15 pm

    I agree with Dave’s comments above. While the 24 hour format will be missed this year I think Sunlight should get some credit for keeping up the momentum by holding an event this year.

  9. Lou October 23rd, 2009 4:39 pm

    Points taken you guys.

  10. Mark October 23rd, 2009 10:28 pm

    I’ve never done an endurance race of this caliber–12 or 24 hour–but have considered it for a few years. Maybe this is my year to race? Twelve hours would still prove a serious challenge.

  11. brian October 24th, 2009 11:36 pm

    I firmly agree with those taking their hats of to Sunlight for keeping something going. I hope the entry fee reflects the absence of the previous sponsor. I always found it excessive. I\’m also psyched to have the 12 hour version as I\’m sure many more will consider it. I\’ve done the Duo Pro twice but always found myself wincing while watching the solo guys. Brutal! It will still be plenty tough but I think there will be less of a chance of someone ending up in the hospital again.

  12. Phil October 25th, 2009 11:29 pm

    12 hours is lame. 24 was what made the race!

    If they’d said “we’re concerned about Greg Hill racing again this year, and the runners up having to go to hospital…just to make sure they are okay”, i mighta believed them. not this time

  13. Lou October 26th, 2009 7:01 am

    Brian, agreed, that entry fee seemed way over the top. For teams it was essential to have the computer system so everyone could keep track of their ongoing standings, that’s part of what made it expensive, but it seemed like the cost could have been reduced somehow!

    If they don’t have the computer system this year, that’ll be a bummer.

  14. Dylan November 8th, 2009 9:52 am

    The computer timing is the main reason Real Time Marketing operated the race in the red. Over $16K for that FYI. Sunlight will use RFI tags and run updates on computer screens. Expect the entry fees to be lower than the 24 Hour race. -Dylan

  15. Kara Diamond-Husmann November 21st, 2009 11:45 pm

    Oh, we were so excited to see if we could beat our last years time. We’ve done this race the past 3 years and sad what happened! We look forward to this as our biking and running racing is over at this time of year and it gives my husband and me a chance to race together. As, I run marathons and he does 2 hour bike racing. Sad this is our one race we can do together!

  16. Lou November 22nd, 2009 9:21 am

    Indeed, the whole idea with this sort of thing is to have some sort of consistency from year to year. While I understand the reasons behind the change, and also support the new format, there was NOTHING like the 24 Hours of Sunlight. Being involved every year and racing in the first one are highlights of my whole career as a human powered skier.And organizing our team of high school athletes for a few year there was simply one of the best experiences of my life.

  17. Nancy December 7th, 2009 5:58 pm

    As a racer, I too have enjoyed the 24 Hours of Sunlight for two years. But I say it’s innovative on the part of Sunlight, regardless of the reasons, to try to keep some semblance of the race vs dropping the whole thing at this point. As a Race Director myself, it takes most of a year to pull off a successful event…and Sunlight has had less than six months. I invite folks to try the 12 hours and then give their feedback to Sunlight. With one year under their belt, perhaps Sunlight might have the energy and desire to reinstitute the 24 Hours format. They certainly won’t do it if no-one shows up this year! Challenge yourself to try something different. I bet we’ll all have a good time!

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