Nolan’s 14 involves cresting the 14 peaks above 14,000 feet in the Sawatch Range of the Rockies.
Ultra athletes and mountaineers are chasing glory in the form of pain high in the Colorado mountains.
In a renewed push, more than 18 ultra athletes have attempted Nolan’s 14—a feat that involves traversing the 14 peaks that crest at over 14,000 feet in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, in 60 hours or less—since the first part of August.
Up until this summer, just 50 ultrarunners had tried to complete the trip, which totals 100 miles and 90,000 vertical feet. Only seven men since 1999 have finished the full journey in 60 hours.
In a Denver Post feature, several athletes weighed in on their attempts at completing all 14 peaks.
After an intense training regimen, cresting all 14 peaks in 60 hours or less seemed possible to Peter Jones and Kendrick Callaway, who were the first two athletes to attempt the feat this season last month.
“But once you start lining it up together and putting together sections, you realize how big it is. It is just huge. So far, so long, so much vertical,” Jones told the Denver Post. “You read the trip reports of people who have done it and the level of commitment is beyond what most people can understand. You have to keep going through everything. Rain, pain, sleep deprivation.”
Several athletes since then have tried to become part of the Nolan’s 14 club but have come up short. But four men have snuck in under 60 hours, and one other man finished in just 37 minutes too late.
The standout thus far is Andrew Hamilton, who completed the route starting from the south (athletes are free to start at either the north or south end of the range) in 57 hours, 18 minutes. What made his feat more special, however, was that he was the first person to join the Nolan’s 14 club without a support crew.
“I definitely do not have a superhuman ability to endure and suffer. What I do have is a long history of failure in endurance events,” Hamilton told the Post. “In that long string of failures I have learned a lot about myself. I know that it is possible continue through what seems like unendurable pain, and I know that it is possible go without very much sleep, despite what may otherwise seem possible.”
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