Author: Luke Nelson

Coach Sam Naney is joined by athlete Luke Nelson and coach, and 2019 Canadian Masters National SkiMo Champion, Scott Semple for a chat about all things ski mountaineering. Sam, Luke, and Scott have a great collective history in skimo racing. Join them as they talk about skimo racing in the US and in Europe; ways to train for and get involved in skimo; dive into some particulars about the gear needed; and learn how to get out there and make the best of ski mountaineering and racing. Listen on Apple Listen on Spotify Listen on Google Listen to this Episode:…

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Professional mountain runner Luke Nelson has raced all over the world since getting into the sport a decade ago. He won the 2014 Bighorn Trail 100, came in second in the 2011 Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run, and placed third in the 2016 US Skyrunner Series. At his racing peak, he averaged one race a month from April through October, with a couple 100-milers and a passion project or two shoehorned in. These days he prefers to trace his own lines, but the same principles that once guided his race season planning still apply—and they’re helpful for all runners looking…

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The hallucinations had gotten more frequent. So frequent that anytime I allowed my eyes to drift away from the small cone of light provided by my headlamp I saw something that didn’t belong. A moose appeared behind a rock. Various sea creatures, octopus and squid the most frequent, wrapped around trees and roots. From what I can recall, the vast majority of them were related to the interface of light and shadow. Then there was a frog. This frog was different than the others: it was in the middle of the trail. My headlamp lit the area, somewhere around 9,000…

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About 35 hours into our Nolan’s 14 attempt in September 2017, I was intent on quitting. I couldn’t imagine what Jared and I still had left after what we’d already done. There are 14 fourteeners in the Sawatch Range in Colorado, and for Nolan’s 14 you start at one end and pick your own route through the range, summiting each of the peaks. It’s about 100 miles with 46,000 feet of ascent. Jared Campbell and I were trying to break the record and set an FKT. Earlier in the day, when we were standing on the fifth or sixth summit,…

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The voices had gotten progressively louder, yet continued to be muffled. It sounded like being in a very crowded restaurant with dozens of conversations happening, but none clear enough to understand. The strange thing is that I wasn’t in a restaurant. I was just below 14,000 feet, descending a loose, steep ridgeline off of Mount Elbert in Colorado. Nearly a day and a half earlier, Jared Campbell and I had left the Blank Cabin Trailhead. Together, we hoped to complete the Nolan’s 14, and wanted to do it as fast as possible. Nolan’s is an incredible challenge. In order to…

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The heat was oppressive, no shade to be found. I was 40 miles into the Bear 100 and felt terrible. I was hot, tired, and felt completely wrecked. As I pondered whether or not I could continue, I sat in the creek above the aid station trying to get my core temperature down. Three weeks prior I had run one of the best races of my life at the Rut 50K. During the Rut I felt strong, powerful, fast. My day at the Bear was about as opposite as I could imagine. Early in the race I felt strong, but…

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I have a friend—let’s just call him John—who really wants to climb the 1938 route on the Eiger. It’s an incredible climb, and a challenging one as well. I’ve done the route myself, and can attest that to climb it requires a broad range of skills: endurance, technical climbing ability on both rock and ice, a good understanding of alpine weather and conditions, and a bit of luck. The route is well within John’s physical abilities, and although he is a little bit less experienced on the kind of M5 terrain you hit at the Crystal Crack, high on the…

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For a very long time I thought I understood athletic discipline. I thought it had a lot to do with sticking to the plan; getting up early to complete workouts before work, going out to train regardless of weather, and doing the workout no matter how I felt. I often felt that even if the workout was hard, or if I was really tired, it had to be done. For eight years this is how I trained. I held very strongly to the ideal of no pain, no gain. Honestly, this commitment to training yielded pretty good results for a…

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