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SAWATCH MOUNTAIN RANGE, COLORADO – The date was June 29, 2018.  That’s when two men traveling on foot in opposite directions finished Nolan’s 14 beating all Fastest Known Times (FKT’s).

Each covered roughly 100 miles over 14 fourteeners in under 60 hours.

Joe Grant, an ultrarunner from Gold Hill, traveled unsupported north to south (N-S) starting at the Leadville Fish Hatchery at the base of Mount Massive and finishing 49 hours and 38 minutes later at Blank Cabin at the base of Mount Shavano (trailhead to trailhead).  Joe broke the previous N-S record held by Andrew Hamilton of 53:39 set in 2015.  Joe’s SPOT track here.

Alex Nichols, an ultrarunner from Colorado Springs, traveled supported south to north (S-N) starting at Blank Cabin and finishing at the Leadville Fish Hatchery (trailhead to trailhead) in 46 hours and 41 minutes (I’ve also seen 46:46 finish time).  Alex broke the previous S-N record held by Iker Karrera of 47:40 set in 2017.  Alex’s time is also an overall record for both directions.  Alex’s SPOT track here.

More with Joe Grant

Joe Grant. Nolans 14 2018. Photo Joe Grant.

I’ve been following Joe Grant for years.  Always inspiring.  He’s constantly pushing himself to see what’s possible.  One example, in 2016 Joe set out “self powered” on a bike (between trailheads) to climb all the 14ers.  31 days later he finished.

Joe’s minimalist philosophy interests me.  Breaking the N-S FKT unsupported means he carried everything he needed on his back with no outside help anywhere along the course.

I reached out to Joe for a few thoughts on breaking the N-S FKT, “I’m super happy to have completed Nolan’s and it’s nice to get the record though the actual process of doing it is far more rewarding than a number at the end. Trying to go fast serves as a good framework to push myself and overcoming those challenging moments that inevitably occur is what makes the experience truly transformative.”

“My motivation for undertaking this type of challenge stems from the curiosity of wanting to understand myself better and see whether I can deal with difficult situations as they arise. The Sawatch mountains are also only a couple of hours from home and a really aesthetic range. I like the idea of just setting off alone in the mountains and seeing what unfolds.”

Joe went on to say, “I stayed really positive the whole time so I didn’t really have any deep emotional lows. Physically though, the mix of prolonged exposure at altitude, calorie deficiency, the heat during the day and of course the magnitude of the route definitely took its toll. I struggled a lot the first night coming off Mt. Oxford, feeling confused and disoriented, and made several mistakes picking the optimal route after that, including summiting the last peak (Mt. Shavano) twice!”

For more information and a complete list of Nolan’s 14 finishers please see Matt Mahoney’s website.