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Backpacker Magazine – February 2008

Motivate With a Fitness Challenge

Whether it's a "Birthday Challenge" or a peak that needs climbing, choosing a specific fitness challenge will help you stay motivated to get out more.

by: Lisa Jhung

Photo by Ben Ditto
Photo by Ben Ditto

When Steve Edwards's birthday rolls around each year, you won't find him eating cake or enjoying a quiet dinner. For the past 25 years, the Salt Lake City resident has devised an outdoor trial for himself that, on paper, looks insane. He calls it the "Birthday Challenge." Take Edwards's 46th birthday in December 2006: he completed 460 bouldering points; cycled 46 miles with 4,600 feet of elevation gain; ran 4 miles with 1,200 feet of elevation gain; threw 46 rocks for his dog, Ratso; and drank almost 46 ounces of various libations–all in 24 hours.

"My favorite aspect is combining activities that require different training," says Edwards, who keeps in shape as a fitness consultant. Want another example? His 40th birthday challenge encompassed 40 days of intense activity, including trail running, swimming, and sprinting. In 2000 Edwards created the website birthdaychallenge.com to encourage others to post their annual fitness goals, and soon the concept attracted participants from around the world. Ultrarunner Catra Corbett runs her age in hours each year (she's 43), and Steve Godbey, 42, completed a 102-mile bike race with 11,000 feet of vertical gain up North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell. Others mix hiking, running, climbing, and charity work into their challenges. "The point is for regular people to reach a place they didn't think they could go, and get a deep satisfaction from it," says Edwards.



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