The Ultimate Mountain Challenge (The Beginning)

It all started when I began getting emails from some of the organizers at the Vail Valley Foundation about the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the GoPro games this year. They were telling me how they were really pushing it this year and they wanted a lot more people to compete in the UMC. I shied away from the challenge at first, knowing that my kayaking may struggle through the weekend if I decided to take on more events. 

 My "training" in Africa consisted of the biggest rapids I have ever seen and out-paddling the hippos and crocs between the rapids. Photo by: Bob Frederick

My "training" in Africa consisted of the biggest rapids I have ever seen and out-paddling the hippos and crocs between the rapids. Photo by: Bob Frederick

I told my husband about it and we opened a conversation about it on a rainy Memorial day, when I decided I would compete in ten events through the weekend. Watching Harry Potter and overthinking way too many things, I slowly registered for the following events; 

  1. The Homestake Creek Race
  2. Freestyle Kayaking (consisting of prelims, semi-finals, and finals) (Hopefully)
  3. Yoga (I got a point towards the UMC for doing something relaxing!)
  4. 5k Run (I’ve never run a 5k in my whole life)
  5. Kayak Downriver Sprint (super painful and cold class 2 race)
  6. XC Mountain Bike Race (I've also never done a XC Mtb Race)
  7. Family Mud Run (with the Staffords)
  8. 8-Ball Kayak Race (consisting of prelims and finals) (Hopefully)
  9. Citizens Climbing (I haven’t climbed since I was in middle school)
  10. Pepi’s Face-Off (another running race at 7500 ft.)
 Enjoying a few moments of sunshine in between surfing and rain in Canada.

Enjoying a few moments of sunshine in between surfing and rain in Canada.

I signed up for all of these events two weeks before the whole GoPro Games started. Luckily,  I had been riding my bike loads and paddled throughout the winter, so I was feeling pretty strong. However, hadn’t actually done any “training” per-say. I work for a non-profit and a Paramedic, most of my days consist of about an hour of super physical activity. I also make a point to not run. My 27 inch inseam inhibits my comfort ability while running. 

I drove west on June 2nd and did some yoga in Denver after the 24 hour drive. I found out the Homestake Creek Race would be moved to the Dowd Chutes due to extremely low water. It would be more of a slalom race on Thursday, I was frustrated but understood the need for the change. 

Brad and I paddled the Chute for a while then decided we should go take a look at the mountain bike course. We did one lap of the course but took our time and had a lot of fun, despite the altitude and a lot of gravel grinding. I felt pretty good during the ride. I slept in my car, up at elevation, Tuesday night, and woke up to frost on my car and all of my gear. But holy crap it was beautiful. 

I spent Wednesday contemplating if it was actually a good idea for me to sign up for all of those events and I started feeling this self doubt in my mind. My runs on the Chute weren’t going super smooth and I wasn’t feeling very well. The freestyle hole wasn’t built yet (the water was so low, we literally had to get it built, using ropes and plywood), so I used the afternoon to rest and get ready for the next four days.