SB6K: Anne Lundblad, Rebekah Trittipoe, and Jenny Anderson to take on the Southern Appalachians
Monday, February 23 2009 @ 07:52 AM PST
Contributed by: mday
This June, NC's Anne Lundblad, along with Rebekah Trittipoe and Jenny Anderson, will attempt to complete the South Beyond 6K, a challenge defined by Carolina Mountain Club that requires summiting 40 peaks in North Carolina above 6000 feet elevation. These three women will attempt to connect these peaks together in one unbroken pathway, requiring they cover more than 40 miles of trail per day. 15 of the peaks do not have any trails, so they will also be doing some bushwacking.
All three of these women are accomplished ultra-runners. Anne Lundblad holds several notable course records (Mt. Mitchell Challenge, JFK, Promise Land 50k, Bel Monte 50k, Dupont Trail Marathon, Virginia Creeper Marathon), has been named USATF Ultrarunner of the year, and has placed 2nd in the World Cup 100K.
In addition to the challenge of completing the SB6K, these women will be raising funds for Project Athena, a charity for Women athletes who are battling physical illness or injury. I also noticed that all three of these women have already donated some of their own funds to Project Athena.
I love mountain adventures and was curious about the planning, logistics, and training these women are undertaking to prepare for this adventure. Anne was gracious enough to participate in an e-mail interview, and I hope you enjoy reading her responses as much as I have.
NCULTRA: When did you decide to take on the SB6K in one uninterrupted string of peaks? Who came up with the rule that you must connect all the peaks by foot?
Anne Lundblad: When Rebekah, Jenny and I decided that we wanted to have an adventure this summer, we looked into a variety of challenges -- running the length of the Mountains-to-Sea, Colorado or Allegheny Trails, or a section of the AT. In my searches, I came across the Carolina Mountain Club website, then read about the SB6K (South Beyond 6,000 ft) Challenge. Most people do this over a period of time, maybe over the course of a summer or several years. When I read about Cave Dog (Ted Keizer) completing it in one big push in 2003, I thought that sounded right up our alley. I mentioned it to Rebekah and Jenny and they were both up for the challenge. We are following Cave Dog's rules about connecting the peaks by foot, on trail rather than road whenever possible, although we aren't planning on challenging his record (4 days, 23 hours, 28 minutes!).
NCULTRA: Have you planned your route yet? What did you consider when planning your route? Are there any special challenges with the route you are taking?
Anne Lundblad: We are pretty much following Cave Dog's route, beginning at Clingman's Dome in the Smokies and finishing up at Roan Mountain. We and have also examined the route taken by Tom Sanders, a CMC member who "closed the loop" by taking the AT from the Roans back into the Smokies. Their routes are fairly similar. We have the rough outline of our route but still have to work out details such as where we plan to stop and camp each night, where we will have crew meet us, etc. The biggest challenge seems to be in the Smokies, because there will be limited access points for the crew.
NCULTRA: What will you be carrying with you? Will you have a support crew?
Anne Lundblad: Not 100% sure yet! We're hoping to have crew meet us each night in order to set up camp, provide food, etc. We'll definitely be carrying a GPS, headlamps, hydration bladders, plenty of gels and solid food, extra jackets, first aid supplies, etc.
NCULTRA: What gear are you going to be using?
Anne Lundblad: We've gotten excellent sponsorship from Inov-8, so we'll be wearing some of their sturdier trail shoes and using their Race Pro packs as our hydration system. We'll also be using a Garmin GPS, Go-Motion lights, Honey Stinger gels and bars, and Smart Wool socks to keep our feet comfortable and dry under tough conditions.
NCULTRA: Would you like volunteers for support? For trail companionship?
Anne Lundblad: Sure! We've got a lot of support so far but can always use more. If folks are interested in getting involved, they should contact me (email@example.com) and we'll see where we can plug them in. Also, we'd love to hear from anyone who has extensive knowledge about any of the trail systems we'll be covering. Since 15 of the peaks have no official trail to the summit, there will be a significant amount of bushwacking. We're hard at work scouting out routes now, and are open to any suggestions or advice that we can get!
NCULTRA: What are the lion trail names about????
Anne Lundblad: The lion trail names are sort of a tribute to Cave Dog, whose "Dog Team" all have dog trail names. Not wanting to be "copy cats", we decided to go with cat names rather than dogs...being from the South, I'm Dixie Cat; Rebekah, as our most experienced teammate is Mama Cat; and Jenny has become Bohima-Lion as an expression of her free-spirited nature. It all adds to the fun!
NCULTRA: How did you decide on your teammates?
Anne Lundblad: Rebekah was our ring-leader. She got the idea for an adventure and invited some of her ultrarunning gal pals. The timing was perfect for me, because after a decade with a pretty intense competitive focus, I was ready for a change, for more personal challenges rather than wins and PRs. The serendipitous thing is that it was ten years ago that I ran my first ultra ever (Uwharrie, 1999). I met Rebekah there and we ran 39 of the 40 miles together, with her mentoring me every step of the way. So it's fitting that we would hook up in this fashion now.
NCULTRA: What are your fundraising goals?
Anne Lundblad: We are raising money for Project Athena (www.projectathena.org). The mission of Project Athena is to help women with breast cancer and other medical or traumatic setbacks live their athletic and adventurous dreams. Project Athena is a non-profit foundation that encourages women to not just survive--but go on to STRIVE after enduring life altering yet life affirming medical conditions. Project Athena provides coaching, equipment, travel expenses, entry fees, and, most importantly, encouragement and inspiration for women who desire to unleash the athlete within and strive for the goal of a lifetime--whether that be to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, cross the finish line of an Ironman Triathlon, or fall into the arms of a proud family at the end of a local 5K.
It is important to us that we approach this not only as a personal challenge and adventure, but also to give back somehow. There are so many worthwhile causes that it was difficult to narrow it down to just one...but we found that the mission of Project Athena resonates with us, as women who have had friends and family struggle with the kinds of setbacks that Project Athena recipients have fought.
NCULTRA: What are the three of you doing to physically train for the SB6K? Are you training together at all?
Anne Lundblad: I'm still figuring that out! Rebekah is the one with the multiday experience, so I'm going to heed her advice. I tend to run a fair amount of mileage as it is, so I think my base is decent. The biggest challenge will be putting in the long miles on many consecutive days. I'll take some weekends and long weekends to put in major miles, especially scouting out the routes. For me, a big challenge will also be to learn to speed hike. In most of the races I've run, 100K and shorter, I haven't had to do too much walking. This adventure will be much different...mental toughness, conquering extreme fatigue and even boredom, and just keeping moving will be key. Rebekah and Jenny will be making a few trips down south to train with me, but for the most part we'll probably have to do our own things and join up in June.