Birthday Challenges


As a fitness explorer, the one thing that inspires me are the challenges that I often make up on my birthday. Unlike races, which are confined to disciplines made by others, your own challenge can take on any form, thus pushing your body to limits defined (perhaps attempting to define is more accurate) by you. My challenges seek to push me into areas that racing or plain adventuring can’t hope to accomplish because that’s how I craft them. From the beginning, they’ve meant to take me into unknown territory. Over the years they’ve added elements that I find unique, which is generally combining sports and activities not physiologically meant to go together. Dr. Fred Hatfield once said, “power and endurance. Ne’re the twain shall meet.” My challenges seek exactly the opposite.

Over the years I’ve explored my limits of power, endurance, skill, and, more or less, f!@ked with my mind and body, mainly in the form of central nervous system overload in pursuit of what might be possible. So many of my friends got into it that I stated a web site to cover the madness. Here it is. Maybe I’ll start updating it sometime. My buddy Spenser has taken up the slack and now catalogs challenge here. He’s also making videos about them. Every challenge hasn’t been crazy, but all have pushed me in one realm or another. After all, the saying is “it’s not birthday pretty hard. It’s birthday challenge.”

Here’s a rundown with links to my past birthday challenges. Above is Jack, the man. My mentor and inspiration. My goal is to someday so a challenge worthy of him.

History before 2000Inspired by Jack LaLanne, I dipped my toes into the water for a while before things got crazy. That doesn’t mean they weren’t hard. They’ve always been hard. “I’d hate to be hanging around you still when you turn 65,” said my parter for 35, Mike Brown, as subsequent years getting bigger.

2000 – 40 Days From Hell – probably still my biggest challenge in terms of combining power, endurance, and skill.

2002One dimensional but, by far to that time, the biggest ride of my life.

2003The first one none of my friends thought I had a chance of completing.

2006My first challenge where drinking was an actual element. If fact, the tipping point (though I completed the exercise).

2007My biggest 24-hour event. Like climbing El Cap, riding the True Grit 50, running the Red Hot 50 and bike messaging 4 laps across SF in one day.

2008In retrospect this was harder than I gave it credit for. Aesthetic challenge, self-propelled from house to house.

201050 friends (67 actually) went huge for me. Mega cool, which some very impressive accomplishments.

2011 – Birthday pretty hard, though the challenge was a last-minute add for a month-long endurance trifecta. 

2012Making Lemonade. Weather’s often an issue. Never more than this year.

201353 days of physical and mental pushing. Anti-climatic, fun wise, but interesting and punishing.