Finishing: at least there will be a good story

When my daughter is pushing her broccoli around, mulling over quitting the soccer team mid-season, I’ll be able to say, “It’s important to finish what you started,” and back it up. 

After chipping away at my sports science master’s degree since 2015, a winding path that has seen six unexpected career changes and required two — while, maybe three depending on how you look at it — moves across the country (in both directions), I finally arrived at the homestretch this summer. There’s more to that backstory — and I don’t blame you for not checking my blog to read everything. Heck, reaching the finish line is a lost art.

I guess that’s what this column is all about. 

After graduating with a music education degree in 2015, my student-teaching experience with 95 middle school flute players convinced me of one thing: maybe I need a backup plan. I applied for a master’s in exercise science from Adams State University that year, tailoring options towards my obvious lifelong obsession with sports. That spring, I spoke with Dr. Tracey Robinson, the head of the physiology department, for the first time upon my acceptance into the program. 

Our bi-annual conversations over the last 7 years inevitably revolve around my dramatic life changes and consequential degree-altering plans as much as my actual research topic: the relationship between strength/weight relationships and double-pole performance in Nordic skiing, a proposal I started fine-tuning in 2017. 

The risk: a lack of available elite cross-country skiers willing to donate time to research. I failed to find participants in the first year. COVID knocked out the next 18 months. Two more new jobs forced graduation date rescheduling. Finally, I scheduled testing with four-time Olympian Andy Newell’s elite team in Bozeman for this July.

The preamble to the finish line was long and winding. The homestretch would be brutal. 

My wife, Christie, 11-month old, Novi, and 2-year-old border collie/German Shepherd Ajee loaded into the sprinter van on Sunday at 4:00 a.m. I’d dragged my family through this whole marathon … they deserved to witness the end, right? 

After a day of testing, Christie and I envisioned returning through West Yellowstone, the site of our honeymoon in January 2015 (Nordic skier thing …) as a romantic and appropriate celebration. My marriage, after all, had been refined through the fire of this rollercoaster degree, which, now that I’m currently in my real dream job as a sports writer, holds less career-defining weight than ever. 

It’s about following through, though.

With Bozeman 100 miles away, I struck a deer with the van at 10:00 p.m. that night, destroying the radiator and rendering the vehicle useless. After calling state patrol and State Farm, we spent a hot and still night in someone’s field, restlessly turning over our sweaty sheets as the baby cried and we tried to problem solve. 

When your daily driver hits a deer, it’s like having that 100-year-old oak tree blow over in your front yard. It hurts. It’s a hassle. With a sprinter van, it’s more like that same tree blowing over onto your house. Both hurt and hassle are magnified, plus you lose access to your bedroom.  

After wasting hours listening to the automated voices of triple-A and State Farm, state patrollers and busy, impatient mechanics, we secured a tow to a nearby town, Columbus, population 1,800. We rented a car to get me to Bozeman for Tuesday’s testing, which — miraculously — went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about the return home.

On my Wednesday morning run, I stumbled upon two brown bear cubs two miles from my car. I dashed back, avoiding another catastrophe. We heard back from the repair shop — 6-8 days for parts and repair.

On Thursday, we secured a different repair in Billings at a bigger shop. On Friday, the only day a rental car was available to shuttle the Sederquist entourage to Denver, Triple-A was on cue to give us a few more hurdles. The tow could only hold two adults — no baby. I gave all tiers of Triple-A management my best reformed Baptist tirade, which lacked swear words and thus probably any effectiveness. 

Long story longer, we made it to Billings by 8:00 p.m. and spent another 90-degree night in the van with a baby who refused to sleep. This is what life — marriage, kids — is all about.

The next morning, my wife was denied the keys to our rental car because, as Dave Ramsey loyalists, we have never had a credit card. My wife, crying at the counter, with a baby doing the same, moved the helpless checkout desk worker who couldn’t understand the policy but also couldn’t help. Meanwhile, I sat with Ajee in a 95-degree parking lot, waiting. 

After four more hopeless hours of problem-solving, a gracious mom, recognizing our utter desperation and dogged exhaustion, came to the rescue. She accepted our cash for her card on the car, a supreme act of trust. We drove from Billings to DIA. A friend from Leadville pulled her own good Samaritan act and drove all the way to get our entourage from there to the Cloud City. At midnight that night, we arrived in our own bed for the first time in about a week.

Technically, I’m not to the finish line yet. I need to analyze data and defend my research. I’m more in that finishing stretch, where the flags line the course and all you want to do is collapse and get carted to the end. 

In this race, there’s been few cheerleaders, attention or fun. There’s been a lot of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and just doing what had to be done — dirt, sweat, frustrations and all. Maybe that’s why finishing is a lost art these days  — because patience and endurance in the face of adversity are, too.

The cab of the moving truck in 2018 – part of the degree race story. We drove from Alamosa to Presque Isle without stopping for a hotel, just like this….Joanie and Zato didn’t make the return trip back with us.

When Novi gets a little older, I can tell her to finish her vegetables, finish her homework and finish the season. And, when she asks why it’s so important, I’ll have a reason or two… 

Or, at least I’ll have a good story.

Running up Mt. Massive

Standing at the top of Mt. Massive

On Tuesday, Christie and I decided, after our normal morning routine (me drinking coffee and typing from 5:15-6:45 … Novi interrupting me…and then discussing ‘theology time’ as a family on the couch while our baby opens cupboards and does laps up and down the hallway until nature calls for everyone) that it would be fun to go ‘check out Mt. Massive.’

Usually, a run for me is 60-70 minutes, and it hardly varies from that, but I had this feeling that if, mid-climb, I felt good, I’d just go for the top. Or maybe I’d turn around. Or maybe I’d at least make it to the ridge. So, that was my commitment level …

We got to the trailhead around 9, right as a couple — dressed in real running shorts — was jogging out to apparently do the same thing I was doing. Now, I knew that if I came upon them on the trail, it would be necessary to get all the way to the top. Or at least die trying.

Christie, Novi and Ajee started their hike a few minutes after I sped off. Actually, I didn’t really “speed” anywhere. I started pretty conservatively. The first mile is a bit of a jolt, but I didn’t stop…it was around 10 minutes. The next mile was surprisingly flat and actually even a little downhill. I was sort of baby jogging, partly to recover and pace and partly because I was already nervous I had missed my turn. I hadn’t analyzed the map in advance, other than that I knew it was about 6.5 miles one way and eventually I would turn off the Colorado Trail to get to Mt. Massive.

Looking back, I think if I had known how runnable miles 2-3 were, I would have tried to hammer those. I passed the couple around 1.5 miles.

At about 32 minutes, I had 5k under my belt and was heading up the Mt. Massive trail. It got much steeper to the treeline, which appeared suddenly. I had to walk for 30-60 seconds around 37 minutes and then again at 44 minutes. At that point, I still was hoping that I could run for an hour.

Through 45 minutes, I had walked for under 2 minutes, but in the next 15 minutes, I would walk for at least half of the time. Again, if I had scouted this, I would have not event bothered to try running. This was definitely power walking.

I hit 8k at 57 minutes – I remembered that split. Then, I made it my goal to see if I could get another kilometer before 1:10 and then the last kilometer by 1:20. At that point, if I was close, I’d maybe go for the summit. Otherwise, I didn’t want to keep Christie worried. The plan before leaving was, “start to worry if you haven’t seen me in three hours.”

I reached the ridge at 1:21 – and the view stopped me in my tracks. I looked for 30 seconds, deciding what to do next while soaking in the reward from my efforts. Then, I decided to push for 10 more minutes. If I was at the summit, great, if not, oh well…I could come back another time I suppose.

The last .5 miles is very much a scramble; you can’t really go fast. In fact, the trail is hard to see at times. I definitely got lost and had to back track. Exposure? Not really. Epic views? Totally. I saw a couple of mountain goats near the summit and remembered Ajee….I was grateful she wasn’t with me. At the top, I was starting to feel chilled. I wore my short running shorts, and that was it. No shirt, gloves, water, food – nothing. This was, afterall, just going to be a ‘normal’ run.

The crew makes it’s way up the Colorado Trail while I’m trying to hammer…

At the top, two ladies who were either my age or a few years younger, were eating lunch. I took a few photos of them in exchange for them taking a shot of me and messaging Christie. This type of communication is why our marriage is so successful.

Then, after maybe spending 3 minutes total at the top, I turned around, stuck my face to the ground, and focused on descending without rolling an ankle. I got to the ridge at about 1:44 (total time) and then ran from there back to the bottom, which I reached in 2:47.

Happy baby!

Coming back down, the best part was the expression from the running couple I had seen start at the bottom just 5 minutes before I did.

After I greeted them with an encouraging, “Hey guys!” the girl said, almost with disgust, “No water? Food?”

And in my head, the Common Man’s “YOU. ARE. CORRECT, meboy” hopped into my self-talk and became the mantra for the next 45 minutes.

I will say, I knew that if I could keep it under 3 hours, I’d be fine from both nutrition and hydration standpoints. However, this was definitely near the limit. The sheer effort going up and the duration coming so close to 3 hours meant that about 1.2 miles from the finish, I started to feel a bit parched. If I had needed to run 5 more miles, I would have been in trouble, no doubt. Luckily, I knew I’d be fine for the next 8-9 minutes, and I was.

Dead baby

My quads killed – basically for the last 5 miles! The downhills really wreck those. I iced in the river immediately after finishing, guzzled a gatorade, and drove home. That afternoon, I biked for an hour at a level 0.34 effort before wrapping myself up in sweatpants and eating a nice dinner, or two….or maybe three…

The next day, my quads still hurt, but I was able to do a shakeout 6.5 mile run. The following day, they still were sore, but I started with an hour and 45 minute skate ski at a pretty easy but steady effort.

I would like to think that if I really focused on this, I could maybe split 1:26-1:28 on the ascent, fairly easily. I think with some dedicated training, maybe the 1:23 record is possible. But, I don’t have much experience with uphill FKT’s … maybe trying to cut 10 minutes off a time is insane.

Either way, it was a fun way to bag my first 14er in Lake County. Keep on striving, keep on skiing!

Christie at the bottom. She arrived just a few minutes before I did! Marriage is all about TIMING and COMMUNICATION!

– Team SederSkier

What are your thoughts?

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-201X.2001.00871.x

So, San Millan pointed out that MCT-1 and MCT-4 are important for clearing lactate, and he said the way to increase MCT-1, which are in slow twitch muscle fibers, is through Zone 2 training. Maybe there are studies that back up that claim, but I found this one, linked above, with Nordic skiers, that doesn’t necessarily seem to fall in line. 

Researchers looked at muscle biopsies after 5 months of training at either moderate or high intensity and found that MCT-1 fell in the moderate group and didn’t change in the high intensity group. You would think MCT-1 would have increased in the moderate (60-70% of VO2 Max) group, according to San Millan’s claims. I didn’t buy the study, so I can’t look at the full results, methods and/or discussion, but even just judging off the abstract, the results were kind of surprising when compared with San Millan’s claim. 

I think, as you’ll see on Monday’s show, San Millan brings many important points to this discussion of lactate threshold. If I disagree with him on anything it would probably be this: 

Just because theoretically, MCT-1 exists in the slow-twitch muscles, and therefore LSD training will increase MCT-1, it doesn’t necessarily follow that someone could just do a bunch of LSD training and still be really effective at clearing lactate and running fast.

Say I needed to build a hole in the ground. If I have two groups of people — those digging (MCT-1) and those carting the dirt away (MCT-4) — training LSD all the time to increase the number of MCT-1 is like bringing 1,000 workers to dig to the site. But, just because they are present, doesn’t mean they know how to dig, right?

Isn’t there something to be said of actually ‘practicing’ lactate clearing by training at an effort that requires lactate clearing to take place? (i.e., maybe I do less LSD, only have 500 workers at the site, but I know these workers can actually dig holes).

In other words, I don’t think you can do 70-miles of running per week at 8:00/mile pace and then hop in an 800-meter and expect to run 1:51 – even from a metabolism-standpoint (and that’s nothing to say of the other elements which go into that type of performance, like running economy, biomechanics, natural speed, flexibility, mental toughness, experience with pacing, etc.)

San Millan seems to suggest that you really only need two training zones – long, slow stuff and short, fast/hard stuff. This might be true with athletes who are either very young or who run races like the 800/1500, but it seems like there is more to the puzzle. 

I’d like to see some more studies, and I don’t doubt their existence, which show how certain types of training increase MCT-1 and MCT-4. Until then, I’ll probably just “go kinda hard for the next 20 minutes” periodically in my rides, runs and skis.

Training log

Tuesday

A.M. – 70-minute run on the new singletrack trails down by Turquoise Lake.

These trails are a great addition to the Leadville scene. I’d say they’re more fun on a mountain bike, but I’m digging them for running, too. One great thing is the rolling nature of the trails, the ability to hook up with the famous lake-side trail, and the proximity to county rd. 9, which is one of the flatter gravel roads in the area (with many huge route options). If you’re in Leadville, park here, say hi to the Pisten Bully’s parked at the base, because winter is coming, and enjoy the trails.

P.M. – 90-minute skate ski

Man, skate skiing is so much more rough for me. My ankles and glutes just kind of …eh….ache

Peaks and Valleys: Dan Hobbs and the 14er self-supported record

As Dan Hobbs’ eyes ricochet off his suit coat and out his Rand Tower office window at the Marquette Avenue traffic below, his mind can’t help but wander back to Colorado.

In 2013, he bolted for the mountains, convinced they could heal him from severe depression.

It worked.

He hiked all 58 14,000-foot peaks in the centennial state in just 24-days.

Now, two years later, he’s at another midlife juncture. scornfully sizing up his suitcoat, he glances back at his screen, where a story about Andrew Hamilton’s new supported 14er record — 10 days — evokes a covetous stare.

“This should be me,” he mutters to himself.

Hobbs’ first venture to Colorado reminded him of life’s beauty.

His second — where he would lower the self-supported 14er record to 14 days, 17 hours and 33 minutes this July — would teach him how to thrive in its darkest moments.

Learning to suffer well

A few days before embarking on the July 5, 2 a.m. start up Mt. Eolus, Hobbs dialed Peter Jones. In 1996, Jones traversed the Centenniel state in a Jeep, soloing every 14er in roughly 16 days.

“The hardest part is really convincing yourself to keep going,” he said of accomplishing the feat..

“You don’t have anyone encouraging or helping you. You have to wake up every four hours and just be like, ‘yep, this is something I want to keep doing — which is insanely hard to do.”

A long-lasting lung burner veteran who has been professional in five sports, Jones said wrapping the mind around the idea of spending a half-a-month sleeplessly driving dangerous 4×4 roads in between class 4 and 5 climbs is impossible until you’re in it.

“It’s not a fun experience,” he said, paralleling the advice he offered Hobbs.

“You’re not going to have a good time, ever. You’re going to be miserable the entire time,” he said in the five-minute phone call.

Hamilton — the man from the inspiring article Hobbs read seven years prior — would befriend Hobbs and ‘encourage’ him with brutal honesty: “This is like suffering at a level that humans should not encounter.”

Hobbs, who had hardened his mind by lapping Hyland’s 140’ hill 70 times per day, discovered the record-holders were spot on.

“That’s really what it was,” the 36-year-old Bloomington native, recalled. “It was extreme suffering, to a point of being like mentally twisted.”

For someone whose nonprofit work for World Vision — the job he held before quitting to focus full-time on his trek in 2020 — has brought him face-to-face with some of the most impoverished communities on the globe, his peak-to-peak plight was eventually placed in its proper perspective.

“I learned how to be mentally ok with it and move on,” he said.

“I learned how to suffer well, and I think that’s a valuable skill in life and no one is born with it.”

Training the mind

The Mondovi, Wisconsin-raised homeschooler who has “zero sporting background” started honing his mind-over-matter abilities early. Even though his parents passed along no particular endurance pedigree, Hobbs received “an education in self-control and doing hard things.”

One indelible memory revolved around his father’s arbitrary decision for his son to learn horseshoes.

“I hated it and I was terrible and it was boring,” Hobbs recalled of his 14-year-old self. For one month, he was required to play for at least 60 minutes per day.

“That was actually one of the most important lessons in my life,” Hobbs stated.

“It’s pretty miserable to hate something, so I just taught myself to like it and to be good at it.”

After 30 days, his skill — and love for — the archaic backyard pastime grew.

“That changed my perspective on just about everything in life,” he said.

“You can learn to like something you hate and you can learn to be good at something you’re bad at. You just gotta change your mental attitude and then work hard at it.”

Twenty-two years later, his self-talk would prove critical.

Aside from his mental toughness, Hobbs’ labels himself as “the most average person you know,” though, that’s not a completely fair assessment.

He dropped out of University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with 100 credits and a 3.8 GPA because the lawn care company he’d started “grew to be pretty big.” Eventually, he started and sold two tech companies. As he humbly pushes aside his rare entrepreneurial ambition, the undeniably successful individual’s insecurity can’t help but slowly bleed through.

“That’s probably not a great quote,” or “that answer might hurt your story,” are uttered more than once. For most, if his work resume didn’t already prove worthy, the reality of his feat adequately established his macho hero status. For Hobbs, however, certain self-critical demons haven’t seemed to completely recede.

“I couldn’t think of anything else in my life. … I would not say I’m an especially talented person in any way at any certain thing,” he said, thinking back to the scene in his office, reading Hamilton’s story, and the mental and emotional impetus for embarking on this mind-boggling endurance test.

“I’m pretty average I guess. That drove me — this is it, this is my one shot to set a record in life and I just gotta do this.”

The seeds for his 2022 record sprouted nine years prior, but understanding that trip’s significance requires some background.

The God-zone

As a result of his childhood church turning into a cult, Hobbs was coerced to marry early. He had kids. Eventually, he divorced.

“That’s where the depression came in,” he explained.

Viewing God as a being who only condemned people to hell, he determined to address his suicidal thoughts by hiking 14ers in Colorado in 2013. All of them. 

During his brash trip, the mountains’ sheer presence, magnificent vistas and overwhelming power and beauty seized the 27-year-old Hobbs, forcing him to question his recent staunch rejection of God and the fundamental axioms which went along with it.

After walking away from his faith, Hobbs discovered that “God was a God of love,” in his 2013 trip.

“I had walked away from the faith,” he admitted of that period in his life.

Required to grapple with his puny humanity and God’s observably opposite divine qualities, he was left face-to-face with his Savior’s sovereignty.

“You’re in the ‘God-zone,’ he said of “the most spiritual place on earth.”

“The mountains are in control and not you, and when you’re up there it’s kind of you and God.”

He discovered God was a God of love.

“There was a journey out of depression and finding God and the mountains played a huge part of that.” 

But, how could a self-admittedly uncoordinated, unathletic specimen accomplish a feat most Coloradans can maybe say they’ve done 1/58 of?

“I spent the majority of those 24 days scared to death,” Hobbs laughed when asked of his 2013 trip.

“Mentally, that was a very hard 24 days.”

On the peaks, he applied the same self-control he introspectively-willed chucking iron implements at a stake in his backyard, even addressing a fear of heights.

“I taught myself how to mentally stay in control of that innate fear I had,” he said.

Secretly emboldened by his “first athletic accomplishment of note,” Hobbs tucked away the thought of returning for a record until that momentous day in his office in 2015.

“After seeing that article, I decided that this was what I wanted to do,” he said.

“It was a very specific memory,” he continued, pausing to gather his words.

“I was tired of the sportcoat.”

Preparing for the worst two weeks ever

Between 2019-2021, Hobbs accumulated 6,000 miles of driving, bagging over 100 summits while scouting routes and developing his plan. He analyzed Hamilton’s route, spending hundreds of hours behind a computer, eventually concocting a spreadsheet that would make Kirk Cousins blush — with every minute of his record attempt accounted for.

“Of course, that kind of went to hell on the first day,” he laughed.

“Beast,” Hobbs’ record-setting custom van.

To handle the most challenging aspect of the record attempt — driving — he tricked out a boring cargo van. Equipped with front and rear axle rockers, a built-in air compressor, a second gas tank and a 30-gallon capacity water system, “Beast” traded its passenger seat for a driver-facing microwave. Hobbs’ pre-made, hand-held calories would be consumed en route.

Hobbs faced rain, snow and storms — but pushed on with his plan — over two weeks of climbing.

Training-wise, Minnesota’s suffocating summer heat and humidity and notoriously bitter winter wind chills didn’t stop Hobbs’ daily regimen — 10,000 vertical feet and 20-25 miles of walking — on Hyland’s meager slope. He’d eat breakfast and shuttle his two kids to school before carrying out his training during the day — often finishing the final one-third after dinner in the dark.

“That made me really mentally tough,” he said of his monotonous routine.

A turkey running across the ski hill brought smiles.

Introspectively analyzing how even his training shaped his outlook, not just on climbing, but on life, he said of those moments, “You learn to hang onto the smallest things.”

The peaks and valleys

Dan Hobbs averaged roughly 3 hours of sleep during his record-setting push.

Halfway through July 6 Hobbs gave an Instagram update from the top of Mt. Wilson — his eighth peak in two days — before heading to his car for a 3.5-hour drive over Cinnamon and Opheur Pass to Handies Peak.

“Hoping to get Handies, Red Cloud and Sunshine,” he said of the remaining day’s schedule to devoted followers, some of which were tracking his GPS coordinates from places as far away as Saudi Arabia.

His video continued, offering a harrowing glimpse into the reality of his ominous fatigue.

“Doing pretty good overall,” he narrated.

“Could use a little more sleep, but other than that” — a disquieting sigh of exhaustion briefly interrupted his talking — “I think I’m on target.”

Later, on the most difficult section of the Maroon Bells Traverse, the floodgates of heaven opened up. Pouring rain turned to hail, which morphed into snow.

“That was definitely a mental low point,” Hobbs said.

When asked what the best and worst parts of the experience were, Hobbs, without hesitation, declared, “It was hard through the whole thing. Every day I thought, tomorrow will be easier, and it never was.”

One nightmarish trial was utterly unexpected. On the first day, his body rejected dairy. For the next five days, Hobbs vomited routinely along summit routes before finally realizing the source. Three-fourths of his food would be useless the rest of the way.

Battling debilitating nausea, he nearly stumbled off Mt. Blanca’s ridge in the Sangre de Cristos, a warning sufficient to detour him away from the knife-like Little Bear traverse. He cautiously added several hours, retreating lower before ascending Little Bear’s ‘bottleneck,’ perhaps the most dangerous stretch of 14er trail in the entire state. After bagging the peaks, he returned to “Beast” at 11 p.m. Heading down Lake Como Road, which “has killed as many people as the mountains it accesses,” according to Hobbs would result in the trip’s most precarious moment. 

As the cliff-side of the road gave way, Hobbs narrowly escaped rolling off the edge. He kept driving, arriving at his next trailhead around 2 a.m. After a 23.5-hour day, he rested for just three hours before starting up Mt. Culebra and Lindsay.

Sleeping for approximately 3-4 hours per day, Hobbs gradually entered a new stratosphere of exhaustion. Decision-making became an arduous responsibility.

“Trying to maintain that line while multi-tasking, while being up for 20 hours straight and driving a four-wheel drive in the middle of the night was a very difficult prospect,” he said.

Pre-attempt warnings from Jones rushed back.

“The whole time you’re doing it you’re going to hate yourself, hate the mountains, hate the environment … you’re going to hate everything going on around you and you’re going to have to somehow keep going,” Jones had prophesied.

“It’s going to be really miserable and you’re going to go to some dark places.”

When people talk to Hobbs about his record, they generally assume it was a grand adventure full of scenic vistas and carefree sightseeing. “It was just pure suffering,” Hobbs would correct.

As the final peak loomed, Hobbs’ experience became increasingly raw.

On the second-to-last day, Hobbs accidentally had dairy again jolting his stomach again. Nonetheless, he was jaunting down Mt. Lincoln when a storm cloud moved in. It was the last straw.

He started crying and throwing things. “It was like a two-year-old having a tantrum,” he said of his state. “Except it was a 36-year-old, full-sized guy.”

He shouted at the heavens.

“I was mad at the world and mad at God,” he revealed. I just wanted something easy for once and it was just not happening.”

An emotional man, Hobbs admitted crying tears of joy multiple times on his trip, visualizing his final steps and imagining the jubilation surrounding his last day. Now, he had lost his temper. His patented mental strength had failed him, stripping him of his dignity. 

“That was my mental rock bottom; it just took everything out of me,” he said.

“I really feel like I lost a piece of humanity on this race. I felt empty after that. I don’t know how to say it other than that. I didn’t have any emotion at all anymore.”

A day later, Hobbs would take a more technical and dangerous route up Long’s Peak, one of Colorado’s notoriously hazardous mountains. He hadn’t run during the entire trip, but on the way down, in yet another rain storm, he took the standard, longer trail down. And ran.

When he got to the finish line, he had shaved nearly two days off of Jones’ 26-year-old record.

He didn’t care.

“I didn’t feel anything,” he said.

“I didn’t feel tired. I just felt blank. I didn’t have anything left.”

The ultimate person-versus-nature epic with a person-versus-self narrative and a universal takeaway, Hobbs’ late-night storms, mid-route puking and eventual shaking of fists at the sky was the unvarnished human state in its truest form.

Finding the next trailhead

When asked what he thought of the record, Jones’ said, “I knew it could go faster, and he proved it.”

For the record, Hobbs isn’t going to try and lower it further.

“No,” he said with conviction when asked if he would go back. “It was so hard and miserable and I suffered so much.”

Digesting Hobbs’ story is a balancing act. It isn’t easy to swallow some of the demons from his past, and while climbing was his way to work through them — and rediscover his anchor in God — even that activity, and his record, have a roughness to their edges.

“Life is hard,” he said when struggling to summarize his main takeaway from the most challenging two weeks of his life. 

“None of these are really positive things — they’re hard to hear.”

But learning to manage the suffering was something he was ultimately thankful for. No matter which of life’s trails he heads for next, he knows better than to guarantee a single breath or step.

“God doesn’t owe you anything,” he stated about the spiritual epiphany his second tour of the 14ers taught him, pointing back to those brutal storms that continually popped up at the worst of times.

“I think that was a big takeaway for me,” he said, his tone seeming to finally find rest.

Dan Hobbs reaches the end of his 14-day epic.

“How to be happiest through the hardest times.” 

Podcast dropping tomorrow …you won’t want to miss this one

Peaks and Valleys: Dan Hobbs and the 14er self-supported record

As Dan Hobbs’ eyes ricochet off his suit coat and out his Rand Tower office window at the Marquette Avenue traffic below, his mind can’t help but wander back to Colorado.

In 2013, he bolted for the mountains, convinced they could heal him from severe depression.

It worked.

He hiked all 58 14,000-foot peaks in the centennial state in just 24-days.

Now, two years later, he’s at another midlife juncture. scornfully sizing up his suitcoat, he glances back at his screen, where a story about Andrew Hamilton’s new supported 14er record — 10 days — evokes a covetous stare.

“This should be me,” he mutters to himself.

Hobbs’ first venture to Colorado reminded him of life’s beauty.

His second — where he would lower the self-supported 14er record to 14 days, 17 hours and 33 minutes — would teach him how to thrive in its darkest moments.

Dan Hobbs’ story of hiking all 58 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado is not what you’d expect it to be.

The Seder-Skier Podcast was the first to interview Hobbs after this incredible accomplishment. Episode drops tomorrow on seder-skier.com and The Seder-Skier Podcast page

All in the family

Christie has been joining me on some rollerski sessions lately

Christie and I used to have a go-to date: she bikes and I run. We did many routes along the dike in Alamosa — and even back in Moorhead — this way, getting to know each other, talk through the mundane, and dream about grand adventures like having kids or trying to locate the best all-you-can-eat buffet.

It’s been far too long, but we’re kind of getting back into it now. There are few things as enjoyable as sharing a magnificent view, trail story, or hard physical effort with another person. When it’s your wife, it’s all the more special.

Before you know it, Novi will be out there, too. She’s already started on the the skierg seatbelt.

Novi pulled this down with great explosiveness for the better part of a couple of minutes the other day. She loves to lift stuff, too. A true workout warrior.

Marcione: Chris on kick, part 1

It has often perplexed me why there is so little love for classic skiing in Colorado, and why many people default to skating. With the dry snow and endless gradual to moderate climbs, Colorado should be producing an army of classic striders. Let’s be honest, skate skiing can be miserable for a good chunk of the winter in Colorado. With dry cold snow, getting even reasonable glide for the best waxer and skating technician can be difficult at best and involve a lot of going nowhere. The most common excuse I hear about not classic skiing usually involves excuses about wax — “waxing is difficult,” or “what if I have used the wrong wax,” or “the temperature is warming up.”

Quit flailing on your skate skis in December and put the skin skis back on the shelf. I am going to teach you about some of my favorite kick waxes and when and why to use them, so you can experience the true essence of Nordic skiing — the kick and glide.

By far the most frequent waxes I use are Rode and Swix. Rode makes some incredible blue range waxes, and Swix fills in the margins on snow that is colder or warmer than that. Rode makes the best non fluro waxes in my experience, especially their Top Line waxes.

For about 90% of days in Colorado, you could get away with two waxes either used alone or in combination with each other: Swix VR30 and Rode Top Line B17. Swix VR30 is the go-to cold wax, it works in dry new snow up to about 15-19 degrees F and works well in older snow under 10 degrees F. Rode TL B17 works well in anything above those numbers up to around 30 degrees F in basically any conditions. If the temps are going to warm from 10F to 30F, I will start with a layer of B17 and put a layer of VR30 on top — this is a common scenario, and pretty much always works for two hours of good kicking.  

If the temps are in the single digits and warming to the teens and I need a bit more kick — or expect I will need more kick — I will start with a layer of Rode TL B310 or multigrade blue and cover with VR30. I have never found B310 or multigrade blue to work well on their own in Colorado, as they either ice on the cold end or have a very narrow range of temps that they work well in. Most likely due to diurnal temps which swing hard in Colorado, we have warmed beyond the capabilities of this wax.

What about waxes like Blue extra? Why is that not on this list? Blue extra is a staple wax, but in my opinion, it is slow and also not the easiest to apply compared to B17. It tends to glop on — the sport has evolved past this wax. It does work well if the snow is really old and dry, as does Rode Super Blue or Skigo XC or HF blue, but the range is nowhere near Skigo Blue, which will work from about 10F up to around freezing if the snow is old enough.

So, there you have it. For most days you can get by with two waxes, and expand your collection from there to fit a few different snow scenarios. In part two we will look at violet range waxes.

Chris Marcione is based out of Silverthorne, Colorado. He has extensive loppet racing experience across the state as well as in the midwest and is hoping to get his first taste of international Ski Classics competition in the near future. When he’s not being inspired by watching old videos of Petter Northug, Chris spends his time listening to podcasts while training and scanning Strava to find out skiable late-May snow.