Memorial Day weekend was a fitness holiday for 890 ath-letes from around the world who answered Ketchum resi-dent Rebecca Rusch’s call to complete an “Everest” chal-lenge for a good cause.
Biking, running and hiking for hours on end, participants in Rebecca’s Giddy Up Challenge rested weary legs Mon-day after raising over $130,000 for Rusch’s Be Good Founda-tion aiding COVID-19 relief.
Money raised through $20 entry fees, donations and fund-raising supported the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, along with World Bicycle Relief and People for Bikes.
Leading the charge by example, Rusch herself accomplished an “Everesting” goal with over 23 hours of non-stop gravel bike riding up and down 7,900-foot Trail Creek Summit east of Sun Valley.
Despite freezing temperatures, Rusch completed 21 laps on a rugged mountain road. She said in a press release, “The physical challenge of riding the equivalent elevation of Mt. Everest (29,029 feet) was a first for me and a massive undertaking.”
“I’m an endurance athlete and have a ton of experience in multi-hour and multi-day events. But I had never at-tempted that much elevation gain in a single day,” said Rusch, adding she felt surprisingly strong, start to finish.
She added, “I was motivated to complete my own personal challenge.
“But the true strength and motivation that kept my pedals turning hour after hour came from the knowledge that hundreds of people around the world were also pushing them-selves to proactively be part of this global healing.”
“Huge success,” said Allyson J. Davis, business manager for the Rebecca’s Private Idaho (RPI) gravel bike gathering held here each year over Labor Day. By the way, this year’s RPI Sept. 3-6 already has 1,014 registrants.
Rebecca’s Giddy Up Challenge featured four different elevation challenges. Together, the participants from 43 U.S. states and 11 countries climbed over 10 million feet collectively.
Categories (bike, run or hike indoors or outdoors) were The Queen’s Everest covering 29,029 feet, Mashed Potato covering 15,885 feet, Twice Baked Potato at 10,590 feet and Baked Potato measuring 5,295 feet.
Giddy Up registrations rose dramatically from 179 on May 13 to 890 at the finish. Bike outdoors signups finalized at 123 in Queen’s Everest, 127 in Mashed Potato, 142 in Twice Baked and 339 in Baked.
Setting an “Everesting” world record of completing 29,029 vertical feet on her bike was road cyclist Katie Hall, 33, of Saratoga, Ca. Her time was 10 hours and one minute.
Hall said, “I decided last Monday to do this and put all my nervous energy into preparing food for it. I haven’t ever spent that long on my bike or climbed that much. But I had been trying to figure out what I could do as a cyclist to support those on the front-lines, and I’m grateful that Rebecca organized it.”
Other Queen’s Everest winners were:
Jules Goguely of Ogden, Utah (9:39 male bike outdoor); Tim Cusick of Carlisle, Pa. (11:58 male bike indoor); Claudia Behring of Boulder, Co. (9:55 female bike indoor); Gary Gellin of Mill Valley, Ca. (13:45 male run outdoor); and Magda Boulet of Oakland, Ca. (16:55 female run outdoor).
Rusch gave participants a “virtual high-5” over Insta-gram Wednesday night and announced the winners of a long list of event prizes including gift cards, bike equipment, swag bags and overnight lodging at The Limelight Hotel in Ketchum.