Winter PEG 2019

Movers & Shakers

Movers & Shakers

LATITUDE

LATITUDE

SWEET RELIEF Dean Anderson, P.Eng., relaxes or collapses or celebrates or all three, after completing the Everesting challenge - photo by Kristin Anderson

UPHILL BATTLE Alex Petroski, P.Eng., gives it his all in the Canadian Death Race. - photo by Ravenseye Photography

A CHALLENGE NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART OR WEAK OF LEGS How tall is Mount Everest? If you ask Dean Anderson, P.Eng. , you might get a few different answers. It’s the equivalent of scaling Jasper National Park’s Signal Mountain 11 times. It’s 26 hours and 22 minutes by bike—without sleeping. It’s 8,848 metres of mud, sweat, and gears on the last day of a family vacation while your wife camps out in the parking lot. And it’s a heck of an accomplishment, even if you you’re not climbing the real Everest. Known as the Everesting Challenge, the worldwide phenomenon he took on entices biking and running enthusiasts to traverse a local mountain or hill of their choice as many times as it takes to equal the height of Everest. The rules are simple: pick a hill anywhere in the world and cycle or run up and down it until you’ve scaled the height of Everest. There’s no time limit, but it must be done in one continuous attempt. You can’t break for sleep, but you can stop to eat. On July 26, Mr. Anderson held strong through the bright, warm morning and a midnight thundershower, rolling in after the final lap of Signal Mountain covered in mud and with a story to tell. “The surface was pretty good for the first half. It was an eight-kilometre long trail that climbed about 800 metres in vertical elevation. That's about a 10 per cent grade, which is pretty steep,” says the St. Albert APEGA member. “The first four kilometres were a pretty good surface; the trail was pretty well packed, with not a lot of loose

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER CONQUERS DEATH RACE

rock or anything. But the upper four kilometres was pretty rough: a lot of big rocks, loose rock and gravelly stuff, a little bit of mud. A lot of stuff I had to manoeuvre around like a real mountain bike trail. That was pretty challenging to try to do that over and over again, and to try to keep your momentum up to get over those steep, gravelly parts.” This isn’t Mr. Anderson’s first foray into endurance biking activities. In 2016, he cycled almost 4,400 kilometres from Banff to Mexico in just under 20 days. That one was called the Great Divide race. The next year, he achieved first place in the B.C. Epic 1000, the Alberta Rockies 700, and the Hurt’n Albert’n 550—earning him the Canadian Triple Crown and setting a record for the fastest combined men’s time. In the company of those events, Mr. Anderson’s Everesting trail was pretty reasonable. “Aside from the mud, there are a lot more difficult things you can ride on a mountain bike. The challenge was the monotony of it and the difficulty doing of doing the steep gravel trail, where I wasn’t allowed to walk. “My low point was in the morning, 3 to 6 a.m., but that’s typical for me and I was expecting it. I knew I was going to feel better later on, so it was just a matter of pushing through it to keep moving forward.” Mr. Anderson is only the second person to log an Everesting success in Jasper National Park: the first was a female ultra-marathoner who biked the Whistler Skytram trail just a few days before. He received two badges for his achievement—one for completing his first Everesting challenge and one for not taking any paved roads.

It’s a long way to the top, but for Alex Petrosky, P.Eng. , it was exactly where he wanted to be. While many Albertans were relaxing for the August long weekend, Mr. Petrosky was pushing his body to the limit at the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache, Alberta, running a 125-kilometre course that spanned three mountain peaks and a major river crossing. The ultra-marathoner and Edmonton resident crossed the finish line in just 12 hours and 47 minutes, clinching first place and charting one of the top five fastest finishes in the race’s 20-year history. “The weekend was very painful. You’ve got wet mud, clay sticking to your feet. Some pretty rough bush. You’ve got scrapes because you’re falling all over the place,” he says. “It was wet and muddy, but from a temperature standpoint, it was nice and cool. When it’s 25 degrees or higher, it really hurts the body. You can’t push as hard as you’d like to. It adds another variable to the race. I didn’t have that issue.” Blisters, sore muscles, and weeks of recovery time were all part of the aptly named challenge, but the tough, rain-soaked terrain wasn’t the only thing that kept Mr. Petrosky’s adrenaline going. “I ran into a black bear about six kilometres from the end of the race. It was about 20 meters away. I talked calmly and backed away from it. “I thought it would scurry back into the woods and I picked up a couple of stones. I was conflicted internally. I was super scared, but I was really motivated to keep going. I thought, I’ve got this win, I can’t stop!”

But the curious bear wasn’t easily deterred: Mr. Petrosky soon spotted it in the trees above him. “That was really startling. I tried to not let that be a moment of intensity. I walked by and for the next 20 minutes or so, I had a difficult time getting my heart rate down.” OK, but what else? What sets the Canadian Death Race apart from any other endurance race? For starters, it involves a 5,180-metre elevation gain over 125 kilometres. In comparison, trails with more than 4,000 feet of elevation gain and longer than 22 kilometres are rated as extremely difficult. Add to that the unpredictability of the terrain—five distinct sections of the race alternate between gentle dirt roads, swampy wilderness, and brutal elevation changes. Mr. Petrosky conquered each challenge. “You almost have to just get into a meditative zone and just say, I’m just going to push and it's going to go away. I’m going to get to the end of this.’” He’s experienced at this kind of thing. Over the past eight years, Mr. Petrosky has competed in 30 ultramarathons. When he says this race is one of the most difficult, it’s easy to believe him. And this will not be the last time the runner finds himself in the middle of a gruelling race, willing himself forward. “The sport—both in community and the lifestyle that it's offered me—has done a lot for me and has become part of who I am.”

24 | PEG WINTER 2019

WINTER 2019 PEG | 25

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