Going the distance: SSWSC logs 4,400 miles, earning money for COVID-19 response fund
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club had a mileage goal of 2,000 going into the weekend-long Community Strong Challenge. The challenge used pledges per mile and donations to raise money for the Yampa Valley Covid-19 Response Fund.
They blew by that goal with that ease.
A total of 198 athletes and coaches logged miles from Friday, April 17, 6 a.m. to midnight Sunday, totaling 4,405.31 miles and $8,468 in donations to the response fund as of 3 p.m. Monday, April 20. The fund, powered by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, provides aid to area nonprofits serving critical functions during the coronavirus crisis. The club is still accepting donations until 11:59 p.m. Monday evening.
If one person traveled 4,405 miles, they would be able to go from Bangor, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, and still have enough left over to head south to Los Angeles.
“That was pretty powerful to see that,” said Sady Tobin, the SSWSC strength and fitness coach and co-creator of the challenge. “People don’t have that much to give right now, but it’s showing our athletes can be pretty powerful and trying to give them a platform to stand on and some good for our community.”
After the club breezed by the 2,000-mile mark on Saturday evening, Tobin offered a new goal of 3,000 miles with one day remaining in the challenge. Even that was too easy for the SSWSC athletes, who skied, biked, ran and hiked more than 2,000 miles on Sunday.
“I particularly loved seeing day three’s miles,” said Rory Clow, the Marketing Director for SSWSC. “It was after the fact, after we had already hit the initial 2,000, they’re still working and pushing hard to reach the next goal. They really pushed hard and made it 4,000.”
The club used the Strava app to track everyone’s mileage, regardless of mode of transportation. Each coach and club member was able to see where everyone went and what they chose to do. Athletes commented on each other’s routes and times, and the maps served as inspiration and ideas for future places to bike or run.
“The social side of sport is so important, and we kind of forget that sometimes,” said Tobin. “This has really shown us that, yeah, the kids want to work out, but they want to see their friends, and they want to see what they’re doing and push each other and tease each other and encourage each other.”
For the sake of the cause, Erik Gunderson, the SSWSC head snowboardcross coach, decided to run 32 miles, 1 mile for each year he’s been alive. He’s completed a couple marathons a few years ago, but was just getting back into running.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to get back into running and give back to the community,” he said.
It took him 7 ½ hours, but he completed 32 miles all around Steamboat Springs with a smile on his face.
“The first eight miles were pretty painful … but right around mile 15, it was raining, and it was snowing, and it was cold, and it sucked,” he said. “But by mile 21, the sun was starting to come out, my clothes were starting to dry, which was awesome. … Coming back into town, around mile 26, I was feeling pretty good. The last couple miles were super painful. More painful than tiring. I just had to keep pushing through that pain.”
Unsurprised by some of the distances the elite athletes were producing, Tobin was most happy about seeing the younger athletes and their families coming together to earn some miles.
“I really liked to see the younger families and the younger kids pushing themselves, putting double digit miles on when they’re so young,” she said. “And families going out for longer walks than normal.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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With abnormally low snow levels, most of the snow skiers and snowboarders will encounter Saturday during Steamboat Resort’s Opening Day will be manufactured.