Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sully Goes for the Colorado Trail Race Record!

Eric Sullivan is attempting to break the record on the Colorado Trail Race via running it from Waterton Canyon (SW side of Denver, CO) to Durango, CO.  Traditionally its been a self supported mountain bike race but a few brave souls have started doing the almost 500 mile course on foot.  Most folks wouldn't even think about doing this....So what makes "Sully" think he can do it?  Get to know Sully below and I think you'll give him a fighting chance!

Sully post Primal Quest Race San Juan Islands

Whats your athletic background?

I started Adventure Racing with Team Crested Butte in 2003, doing long (up to 650 miles) multi-sport adventure races around the world.  Prior to that I was working on my education at Western State College. During my college career I got introduced to trail running and mountain biking in the Summers and training for the Elk Mtns Grand Traverse ski race in the Winters.
The last several years I have pursued a few Ironman events and more recently I have decided to get into ultra running and expand my horizons with different distances in different sports, keen on the next adventure.
I’m originally from Ulysses, KS….a great place to be from, but I needed to get to the mountains!

Where do you currently live and train?
I live in Crested Butte, CO at about 8,900ft and train in the greater Gunnison Valley.  I have a great network of folks to train with, which keeps me motivated.  Everyone here is always pushing the limits of their particular sport, so it keeps me inspired.  Living and training at this altitude is ideal for this race as a majority of the trail is above 10,000 feet.
Sully climbing up Augusta (12,559') this Spring

What is your gear list like?
Shoes-Salomon Speed Cross 3 and XA Pro 3D Ultra
Shorts – Salomon Exo Motion Tight and Trail III Short
Tops – Salomon Exo Motion Tank, Tee, and Trail IV ½ Zip Tee,
Socks – Salomon XT Trail Pro and Smartwool short running socks
Compression – Salomon Exo IV Calf  & sleeves
Sun Protection – CEP arm coolers, Energy Lab Nutrition visor
Rain Gear – Salomon Pac-Lite Gore Tex Jacket and Mont Bell Gore Tex Pants
Sunglasses – Oakley Jawbones with interchangeable lenses
Nutrition – Energy Lab Nutrition full line of ElectroSalt, Execute, Ignyte, and Armor products
Backpack – Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 Set and Salomon XT One Belt
Lighting – Princeton Tech EOS headlamp and spare batteries
Trekking Poles – CAMP Xenon 4
Insulation – Mont Bell EX Light Down Jacket
Sleeping system – Mylar space bag, combined with insulation and wool hat
Shelter – Terra Nova Equipment Bothy 2
Sleeping Pad --  Thermarest Neo Air X-Lite ¾
Navigation – Garmin GPS Map 60 C
Tracking – SPOT Beacon
First Aid -  Lueko Tape, Blisto-Ban, Ibuprofen, Tums, Gauze, Triangle bandages

Sully drying his feet at Primal Quest Moab

What is your support crew carrying that you aren’t?:  Basically everything….my goal is to complete this in a fast & light style with a support crew…its going to take a motivated support team to get me to Durango in record time.  My crew will have;
sleeping gear, a majority of my food, hydration and clothing needs to support me. All I expect to be carrying are the clothes on my back.

What are your hydration/nutrition and sleep strategies? My goal is to sleep in transition areas.  Sleeping on the trail is always an option but its clearly more effective to sleep at pre-designated check points along the trail where my support crew will be.  Nutritional goal is to consume 200-250 calories/ hr.   ….I’m like a goat I can eat anything….not picky…variety is the spice of life!

I plan to make a big push to stay on top of electrolytes, lots of Energylab  ElctroSalt tabs (2 tabs/hr), lots of drink mixes, recovery mixes prior to short naps so that when I wake up I’ve had time to digest a bunch of calories….thereby cutting down on having to eat a lot on trail.  My sleep strategy will be 24 hrs on/4hrs off/sleep…I’m trying to sleep in transitions, but will be flexible with it….any less and I will pay for it later.  I’ll try and bank some rest for the last push to Durango…. What’s left in the tank will be spent in the last 36 hrs of the trail to the finish.
Sully after winning the 24 Hours of Sunlight and setting a course record!

How long is the CO Trail?  485 miles by foot. Vs. 470 miles for bike. The mtn. bike race detours slightly because they can’t travel through the Wilderness sections, so they end up doing  about 67,000 ft. of vertical Vs. my route, which has about 72,000ft. of vertical.
The bike record is about 4 days, two hours. The foot travel record was set in 2008 by Paul Pomeroy of Lyons, Colorado who clocked 8 days, 12 hrs, 14 mins, 5 seconds, bettering the previous mark by about one and a half hours.  He averaged about 56mi/ day and did it with a full support crew, very similar in style to my effort.  More here on his attempt; 

Where and when did you come up with this crazy idea?  I haven’t raced in a bit, I was itching for an adventure and love the simplicity of  this goal.  Three weeks ago I was on a trail run in Crested Butte and thought it would be cool idea.  I chatted with my friend David Gross who is trying to raise awareness & funding for the Down Syndrome-Autism Connection.  We agreed that this could be a win/win situation…now I’ve got a higher power to race for…I can’t quit!

I thrive on big adventures where I’m nervous about even attempting it.  I reached out to my old Adventure Racing sponsors, Salomon & CAMP about the concept and next thing I knew they were on board…it was game on.! Putting pieces of the puzzle together is what I enjoy during the build up phase….like getting an “A Team”  support crew came together.  Two weeks of preparation is perfect for me, if you think about it too much, you can come up with excuses on why not to do it.  It’s like cliff jumping for me….you just gotta go up there and huck!
Sully taking his running game seriously at the Western State College High Altitude Performance Lab

How have you been preparing for this record attempt?  My biggest focus has been getting the support crew coordinated and where to be.  Devil is in the details. Once the “gun goes off” I can shut my brain off and go!  All the years of Adventure Racing have prepped me well for a record attempt.  One of my main focuses during the effort is to minimize mistakes.  And to that end…  I’ve assembled the best  support crew I could ….so that is huge!
Team Crested Butte: Jon, Jari, Wick & Sully at Raid Andorra

What is your goal? I don’t really know the entire course, its going to be hard….but clearly I would love to get the record .  To have a good shot at breaking the record, I’ll need to do my own race, have good weather and lean on the team I’ve assembled! 
I am focused on to trying to average 60-70mi/day especially in the first few days where the course is slightly more conducive to a fast pace Vs. later in race… where you are up high, with potential weather issues.  I’m going East to West on the trail.

What style are you doing this in?  (supported/unsupported??)  Fully Supported with the “A team” support crew I’ve put together.
When he isn't training, he's probably chilln'

Can your body handle this kind of mileage?  Well I hope so!  I’ve never done this much on pure foot.  I’ve done this mileage in Adventure Racing.  It’s a mystery for sure, slow and steady…especially the first 5 days and then Molas Pass to Durango will be the hardest, up high, lots of vertical.  I think I’ve learned a lot from my Adventure Racing days.
Part of Team Crested Butte Sully & Dave Wiens getting it done in France at the Raid World Championships

Where can folks donate money for this Autism cause?


specify Eric Sullivan Colorado Trail Race

How can we track your progress? 

 Good Luck!


  1. Go kill it Sully!!! This is awesome!

    I know I'm being picky, but it's a bit confusing that he says he's going for the "Colorado Trail Race Record." The CTR course is much different, and is also a solo, self-supported race. He is actually going for the "Colorado Trail Record", which has traditionally never been referenced as a race, though it is just as competitive of an event.

    Regardless, that many miles on foot sounds waaaaay harder than that many on a bike.

    Good Luck!

  2. Here's a great page/forum with some history of what Sully is attempting.

  3. Stefan - Clearly these are two different events...Bike Vs. Foot.

    The fastest known time on foot is clearly what Sully is going after, and that record was done with a support team, so that's how Sully will be attacking it...which admittedly is different in style (and mode of travel) than the bike race, which will go off the same day.

    I can't wait for Sully to pass some bike racers later in the race :)


  4. Yeah, that'll be awesome when he passes a few of the racers, maybe even the first day!

    BTW, there is intentionally nothing in the CTR rules that specify a participant must have a bike. :-) "Under only your own power" is the only requirement. Of course, doing the CTR detours on foot would be just stupid - some of the best sections of trail are through the Wildernesses.

    Also, I'm sure he's aware (from linky above), but an unsupported record does exist via foot which was also set by Paul Pomeroy at 14:09:30!

  5. Stefan - Sully is aware of the unsupported record too, but is putting all his efforts towards going as fast and light as possible with the support from his crew. Maybe he will consider the unsupported nature in the future....very impressive Paul! Starts Monday! Cheers

  6. "I am focused on to trying to average 60-70mi/day especially in the first few days where the course is slightly more conducive to a fast pace Vs. later in race…"

    I had to smile when I read this. 70 miles a day is a lot on a day to day basis, even on roads in low altitude.

    I wish Eric luck and hopes that he finishes the whole trail even if he does not make the record.

  7. How is Sully doing? There isn't a lot of info on the tracking page right now.

  8. The quickest identified period by walking is actually plainly exactly what Defame goes right after, understanding that report was over using a assistance staff, therefore that is just how Slander will probably be assaulting that...which usually undoubtedly differs from the others however you like (as well as setting regarding vacation) compared to the bicycle competition, that can stop the identical evening.

    I cannot await Slander to pass through a few cycle racers afterwards inside the competition :)

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