Starting 5:00AM Friday two accomplished Colorado ultra runners, Brandon Stapanowich and Gavin McKenzie, will set off on what is known in the ultra community as the Nolan’s 14: a traverse of fourteen peaks in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, each with at least a 14,000 foot summit.
On a map, Nolan’s 14 answers the question: “how many 14,000 foot summits can be linked together in 100 miles.” With a north to south attempt, the course runs from the Leadville Fish Hatchery to the Blank Cabin Trahilhead, tagging the summits of Mt. Massive, Mt. Elbert, Mt. La Plata, Mt. Huron, Mt. Missouri, Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford, Mt Harvard, Mt. Columbia, Mt. Yale, Mt. Princeton, Mt. Antero, Mt. Tabeguache, and Mt. Shavano along the way. The generally accepted cutoff time is sixty hours and the route includes approximately 44,000 ft of climbing, except there is no singular route, as much of the connections from one peak to another do not follow standard trails.
To date, only eight people have been known to complete the route within the sixty hour cutoff. More people have walked on the moon than have finished Nolan’s within the accepted framework. It is a monumental undertaking, one that has broken almost every athlete that has attempted it.
Nolan’s poses more questions than it answers. How will the body respond to 60 hours of exertion in the presence of prolonged hypoxia, unpredictable mountain weather conditions, and unforgiving terrain? How will the mind, in a sleep deprived state, respond to route finding along unmarked trails over two consecutive nights?
In spite of these questions, one thing is for sure, Nolan’s demands presence. There is no faking, no “going through the motions” and no half-assing. It demands authentic commitment and a dedication to both the pursuit and to the ideal of the endeavor itself. Nolan’s is about taxing the body to replenish the spirit and to nourish the soul.
Nolan’s is the purest definition of “endurance event” and the perfect match for Enduro Bites. As such, we are proud to support Brandon and Gavin's attempt. We will be in the Sawatch providing Enduro Bites and keeping everyone informed of their progress. Follow us on Twitter (@endurobites), Instagram (endurobites) and Facebook for updates. You can also track their location through SPOT GPS tracker.
More information on the history of Nolans can be found at http://mattmahoney.net/nolans14/index.html.