Got home Sunday about 2:00 pm and crashed till 8:00 pm, was up for about 33 hours straight. Back blogging for the moment but off to the land of nod here pretty soon. Second annual 24 Hours of Sunlight up/down ski race is in the bag. Young Gunz did a lap in time to get another lap after the 11:00 cutoff, and wound up 2nd in class and 4th overall. The four teenage boys delighted everyone with their fast lap times, good transitions, and positive attitude. Exciting to see. The three sets of parents we’re all there cheering them on, just like highschool football only better.
|Young Gunz (holding skis) and the support crew, from left, Boone Caudill, Jason Caudill, Luke Caudill, Jamie Caudill (kneeling), Mike Eaton, Louie Dawson, Lou Dawson. Lisa Dawson also did support, as well as Mike’s father John. And thanks goes to Janelle Caudill for the burritos and the prayer chain! We managed to outfit everyone with Dynafit setups using our stash of test and sponsorship gear. Thanks goes out to Atomic, Dynafit and Trab for the skis, Scarpa and Garmont for boots, and of course Dynafit for the bindings. As always we found our Cloudveil clothing to be incredibly nice, and thanks Black Diamond for making such good headlamps! (Moms and dads, click here for enlarged photo.)|
|After sleeping a few hours and taking it easy because of a health issue Polly McLean did a nice slow couple of laps so she could maintain her number one position in women’s solo category. This is her on her last lap, coming into the transition tent. Congratulations Polly!|
Greg Hill won men’s solo with 32 laps, the same number he did last year. As noted below, he lapped 2nd placer solo Eric Sullivan (also a young gun), and finished with him. Sullivan ended up in the hospital with dehydration and difficulty breathing. Solo 24-Hours Sunlight must be almost inhumanly difficult. Not only did Sullivan have medical problems this year, but last year the incredibly strong guy who tied with Hill, Jimmy Faust, also made a trip to the hospital after the race (nothing serious). Greg looked quite good today after finishing, but you could see the dehydration in his face, and the way he was leaning over his ski poles you just knew it had to be fatigue beyond what most of us will ever experience from an athletic event. Greg crashed out a few hours, then there he was at the awards ceremony, not even sitting down! Mutant — but in a good way. Congratulations Greg! (And let’s not forget Greg’s one-man support crew of Frank Desrosiers — you wouldn’t believe how hard Frank worked for 24 hours straight. Congrats to Frank for a job well done.)
|Greg Hill and Brian Johnson (1st and 3rd men’s solo) on the podium! Second placer Eric Sullivan was still at the hospital and we wish him well — and to be one lap off Greg Hill, wow! Next year, the battle continues?|
Another cool story from the men’s solo category is that of third placer Brian Johnson, who lives here in Carbondale, Colorado and ski patrols up at Aspen Highlands. Really nice guy and STRONG! He got in 27 laps, and told me “it must be those bowl laps up at Highlands, some days I’m doing eight and that’s good training, I come down here to low altitude and feel pretty strong…” Congratulations Brian!
All the other soloists deserve kudos as well. A brutal athletic event that asks the best of a body and mind. And let’s hear it for the crews! Let me tell you, staying on your feet for 24 hours, cooking, drying skins, taping feet, cheering and doing about a thousand other things takes it out of you, but the joy of teamwork and enjoyment in seeing athletic commitment easily makes up for the pain.
10:59 am, Young Gunz got the lap, they’ll probably be 4th overall, and are 2nd in class. And Polly decided to pull one out of the bag and has won the solo woman class. More later, being kicked out of the room.
10:19 am, Things are getting interesting. Louie pulls a 43:44 lap a short time ago, which means Jason can get going with enough time for a bonus lap if he gets back for a changeover before 11:05. This can happen, and would lock 4th place overall if we get it done! As for our place in the Men’s Sr. category, we’re 2nd and we’re pretty sure that’s locked.
9:30 am, Luke comes in with a 38 min. lap! Louie almost misses the changeover scan! We’re vying for 5th place overall! Mike Marolt just scanned in and quit at 30,000 vert and change. Good personal best Mike!
|Basecamp for seven racers, Young Gunz, Polly McLean, Greg Hill, Mike Marolt. Housekeeping nightmare? When is checkout time anyway?|
|8:00 am — Sullivan (left) and Hill, going for another lap to make sure they’ve got the vertical they want, in Hill’s case that’s 50,000 plus.|
8:00 am — Jason has held his own with the Scooter, Mike gets out and does a 44:08 and comes in AHEAD. Jason up there now, he’s hungry for blood.
7:00 am — Young Gunz are working hard, they lapped the Three Brothers but only by seconds, then the Brothers sent out their ringer so now it’s a battle royale between Jason and the “Scooter” part of the Three Brothers. Sun is coming up, very scenic, does Jason see that? Doubtful. He’s probably looking at a pair of ski tips…left, right, left, right, left, right…
6:00 am — Hill has lapped Sullivan, now they’re skiing together for a few more laps. Sullivan will break the old record, and Hill makes a new one!
5:00 am — It’s incredibly beautiful out here tonight at Ski Sunlight. Full moon is hanging above, gently glowing through thin haze. Music filters up from the transition tent. The occasional cheer mixes with the almost tasty swish of skis and louder carve of a snowboard coming through. Once in a while a runner or snowshoer comes by, with a rhythmic punching sound. Polly and a couple of boys are asleep in the room, the next guy to go out rustles around getting a last shot of Gu or a slug of Cytomax. We obsess on the real-time scoring, planning ways to keep our position. I’m feeling the weird sensations of skipping a night of sleep. Funny thing is, if you’re an athlete on a team like ours you get quite a bit of sleep between sessions, but crew pretty much has to stay awake, though I might try a catnap.
|4:00 am, Luke Caudill is back on ’em! He cranks out a 41 min. lap on the WildSnow pair of Dynafit Seven Summits, now Louie is up. Hey Luke, what are you doing with my Scarpa Matrix boots, and come to think of it aren’t those my skis you’re running off with!?|
|Greg Hill making a transition at around 3:00 am, that’s his logistics guy Frank Desrosiers helping out. Frank and I have been swapping avalanche stories between skin maintainence sessions. It’s as fun and interesting to crew this thing as it is to race.|
1:49 am — Yesterday, young gun Luke had to drive 8 hours to get here. He’s tired so we’re letting him sleep in while Jason, Louie and Mike pull a few more laps. Greg Hill is still in the solo category lead, getting comfortable now but we’ve still got 9 hours so anything can happen. Go Greg!
|Eaton father and son, dad’s a coach, can you tell?|
12:30 am, sorry to say that Polly had a health issue come up and has to bow out. She was doing super well, so stopping is somewhat of a disappointment, but it’s best to be careful when things come up. She’ll be back next year! Meanwhile the Gunz are after it! Mike Eaton is up next!
Greg Hill report: he’s first by 7 min. You can watch real time results here.
|Jason Caudill comes in after lap five, he’s on the WildSnow Trab Free Rando skis, and his eyes are glowing with the fire of competition.|
|Jamie Caudill drys the skins, next year he’ll be climbing on those skins. We’re totally drying the skins every lap so we have ZERO skin failure.|
|Our kitchen transition area at night. Lisa handles the boil pot. We’re making diluted warm Cytomax that we feed the boys before and after each lap. When they’ve got a long break they feed on crackers, PopTarts and anything else that’s high carb.|
9:44 Mike Eaton just came in from an excellent lap, Luke Caudill heads out, Young Gunz are in 2nd place for class, seventh overall, but team behind has got a fast guy and he’s making up time as I write this. We’re still not even half way into the race, but almost there. The zone is looming ahead.
|The start at 11:00 AM, Greg Hill is behind a guy on nordic gear, who sprinted fast for the first lap but fell back. Nordic racing skis with skins are an option, but the downhill is icy and steep and using skate skis for that can really work you, and if you fall then that’s it for time, and you can hurt yourself.|
|9:05 PM, Mike Marolt comes in for a transition, helped by Boone. Mike is 6th in men’s solo. Lisa is here now and adding a third person to logistics.|
|Another amusing team name.|
|Transition tent and moon, 8:02 P.M.|
7:11, Greg is neck to neck with Sullivan. Young Gunz are trading 2nd for third, back and forth with The Brothers. It’s dark, the crowds are gone, headlamps work their way up through the dark. Moon coming but high clouds will make that less than ideal. It’s going to get intense soon. Altered states. The downhill has icy sections. A solo contender came down with a bloody face, but he’s back in the game. The Young Gunz might not know what they’re in for, but I believe they’re up for it!
|Young Gunz just jumped to 2nd place for their class, but the Three Brothers are on our heels! This is Louie starting, trying to stay ahead of those guys. Now the strategy is athletic recovery and fueling.|
|The teams have some terrific names. We’re hoping these guys have the old cowbell guy as a pacer, as that’ll keep them behind the Young Gunz!|
3:50 – Greg Hill is still in second, men’s solo. He’s eight minutes off the leader, Eric Sulliven. This is going to be interesting. Night will tell the tale. Frank (Greg’s logistics guy and blogger) is here in the room, he say’s Greg’s not overly concerned. If he picks up a minute a lap he could easily make that up and we’re only 5 hours into the 24.
|Greg Hill doing a transition early in the race.|
Update, 1:58 Things get a bit hectic with myself and Boone doing logistics for six people, and the web connection is slow, so my blogs might be kind of scattered, and with typos, sorry about that. The top racers are doing laps at around 32 min., which is amazing. You can watch real time results here.
Polly just came in for a transition and she’s looking strong, she’s in first place for woman’s solo with a good lead. We’re planning on keeping her going for a solid win! Greg Hill is pacing himself, he’s second and I’ll bet he’s primed to attack for first. Young Gunz are third in their class, one min. off second so we’re going to pick up the pace! Mike Eaton is up there now. Check this link for our team.
Air temperature is cold, but bluebird sky and sun is helping. The night will be the time. The Young Gunz are planning on showing how tough they really are at 2:00 A.M. At the moment, they’re carbo loading on Pop Tarts.
Also, Greg Hill’s support person, Frank Desrosiers, is keeping Greg’s blog updated. Check it out!
It’s time! We’re setting up logistics, it’s 9:15, race start at 11:00. Our team of 4 teenagers (Young Gunz) is sharing a logistics room with Greg Hill and Polly McLean. We’re rooting for Greg to break his 50,000 vertical record, and there are a few guys here gunning for the man. We doubt they’ll succeed as Greg’s been logging 10,000 vert days as training, and looks healthy and strong. Setting up logistics for the Gunz. More blogging soon.
|In the logistics room.|
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.