World records mark 24 Hours of Sunlight endurance race
February 25, 2008
SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN, Colorado” The word sanity is usually equated with mental equilibrium, having normal thought patterns and feelings. To act sane, then, would be to practice sound judgment or reason.
If normal can only be achieved when one follows the conventional standard, pattern, or type, then why would so many people, on a late-winter weekend, choose to hike up a mountain and ski back down it, time and again during a 24-hour period, and seemingly have a good time while engaged in such an activity?
“It’s fun,” said Glenwood High School senior Brooke Lockard. The weary-looking Lockard competed as a member of the five-person coed team called DNR.
Nancy Reinisch, whose team came out on top in the women’s masters division, agreed in full with Lockard’s assessment of the long day.
“I’m tired, but it was a lot of fun,” said the Glenwood resident. “It’s a great way to get together with the girls on the weekend.”
If fun was indeed the order of the day (and night), then Eric Sullivan of Crested Butte and Molly Zurn of Reno, Nev., may have gotten the most enjoyment out of this year’s version of the 24 Hours of Sunlight race, held Saturday and Sunday at Sunlight Mountain Resort.
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Sullivan and Zurn both set new world records for vertical feet covered in a 24-hour skiing endurance event. Sullivan completed 34 laps of the 1-mile, 1,898-foot course, which equates to 51,068 feet total. Zurn logged 22 laps, which gave her just over 33,000 feet of coverage.
Zurn, who seemed to still have way too much energy for someone who had just accomplished such a strenuous feat, had some definite goals in mind coming into the race.
“I wanted to try and get past 30,000 feet, which was the old record,” said Zurn. “I felt pretty good for most of the race, but my quads started to give out on me about the 20th lap. I just wanted to stay ahead of Polly. She goes forever.”
Zurn did manage to stay ahead of Polly ” Polly McLean, that is, who came in as the ladies runner-up with a stellar performance of her own, completing 20 laps. Elizabeth Schulte turned in a 17-lap effort for third place in the women’s division.
Following Sullivan in the men’s solo event was Glenwood’s Bobby Lowe. Lowe completed 28 laps of the course, and tipped his hat to Sullivan, who is a super-hero of sorts in this event.
“I’m pretty exhausted now, but I felt great during the race,” said Lowe. “Eric (Sullivan) is in a league of his own, though.”
Brian Johnson of Aspen, who recorded the fastest one-lap time of the day for solo competitors, came in third for the men.
This year’s winning team effort came from the Structural Associates, a four-person squad made up of Mike Simpson, Greg Albrecht, Mark Beardsley and Brian Edmiston. The group completed 41 laps to earn the team title.
In spite of the amount of energy expended in the past 24 hours, there were smiles all around at the awards ceremony, especially so on the faces of race directors Mary Kenyon and Dylan Lewis.
“One hundred percent pleased with things,” said Lewis. “We had 100 more racers than last year, and the weather was nice and warm.”
With the event complete, many of the participants got together to share stories and bask in the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the completion of an endurance event. Hot showers, hot (or cold) drinks, sore muscles, and how one would fare at work on Monday, were all topics of conversation. Many were already talking about next year’s event.
For those who took part in the 24 Hours of Sunlight, it must be true that athletes can break through personal barriers and transcend what is considered normal. It’s about doing things with the body that are beyond the scope of everyday athleticism. Or maybe it’s as simple as Jimmy Buffet being right when he said if we weren’t all crazy, we would go insane.
For complete race results in all divisions, go to 24hoursofsunlight.org.