A few weeks back I wrote a post about mountaineer turned ultra-runner Ben Clark’s attempt to complete Nolan’s 14, a grueling 100-mile running challenge in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Nolan’s 14 challenges runners to nab 14 individual peaks, all above 14,000-feet (4267 meters), in under 60 hours. Those who attempt it are free to take any path that they see fit, they simply need to get to the summit of each of the mountains that fall along the path in as short a time as possible. And if successful what is there reward? Their name added to a website giving them credit for accomplishing this astounding feat. To date, it has only been done eight times by seven individuals.
When I wrote that post Ben was in the final stages of preparing for his own attempt on Nolan’s 14. He was heading out on the weekend of August 24 to give it a go with the hopes of adding his name to the list of runners who have conquered the trail. Ben has written a post-run updat1e for the Osprey Packs blog to share the results of his attempt with the rest of us. In short, the title of the blog post says it all – 100k is not 100 miles.
Despite nabbing five peaks in the first 24 hours of his run, Ben wasn’t able to complete the entire course as he had hoped. It wasn’t a lack of training, poor planning or bad navigation that prevented him from reaching his goal however. Instead it was that old nemesis of all who venture into the mountains – the wether. Not long into the run rain started to fall in the mountains making it difficult to move forward at a brisk pace while keeping visibility to a minimum. All of the other successful attempts on Nolan’s 14 were accomplished in good weather conditions and unfortunately Ben wasn’t blessed with the same good fortune.
But the experience taught him a lot about being an ultra-runner on a long distance challenge. It also helped him to think about and prepare for the trail more effectively for his next attempt. Weather permitting, Ben says he’d like to give Nolan’s 14 another go later this month. He doesn’t say exactly which days he’ll attempt the run but you can bet he’ll be watching the skies for better weather this time out.
Hopefully conditions will be right for this second attempt. Now that the calendar has turned to September it won’t be long until the higher elevations of Colorado start to see the snow fall. That will eventually shut the door on this route for another year and I’m sure Ben would like to have his name added to the list of those who have challenged this tough run and managed to complete it as well.
Update: I’ve heard from Ben directly and he says that he managed to bag seven of the peaks that make up the Nolan’s 14 in just 29 hours, 30 minutes. So, he was able to get through half the course in half the time. That bodes well for a second attempt in the near future.