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Karsten Madsen’s epic “Everest” challenge

Canada's premier male cross triathlon racer completes a fundraising ride with over 8,800 m of climbing.

On Saturday Canada’s premier male cross triathlete completed an epic 247 km ride, climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest.

Karsten Madsen completes his epic ride. Photo: Matthew Tongue.

How’s this for taking on a challenge? Last Tuesday Karsten Madsen was “called out” by pro downhill mountain bike rider Micayla Gatto, who challenged him to take part in the “Giddy Up” climbing challenge being organized by seven-time world champion adventure athlete Rebecca Rusch. Those, like Madsen, taking on the “Queen’s Everest” challenge were required to do a ride sometime between May 22 and 25, climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest – 8,848 m (29,029 feet).

Looking at the weather reports, Madsen realized that Saturday, May 22 would be the best day to make the attempt in Whistler, with the forecast calling for a high of 15 and a mix of sun and cloud.

Photo: Matthew Tongue

Two days after he committed to the challenge he checked out the loop he intended to ride – an out and back 6.4 km loop with 231 m of elevation. Then, on Saturday, he jumped on his Norco Section road bike and embarked on the challenge. On the climb for each of the laps he’d find himself pushing 300 watts to get to the top, then he’d turn around and fly back down to get ready for the next effort. After 11 and a half hours he’d finished 39 laps (247 km) and achieved his goal.


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This started from a challenge from @micaylagatto to do @rebeccarusch #giddyupchallenge . To ride the same elevation as Everest in one ride (29,029ft) a number I will never forgot. However it turned into something much bigger and still processing! The ride took 11hours 30mins to hit the number. 247km. I didn’t do this alone, the support from my family and friends blew me away. My longest ride before was 4.5 hours. I could see all the messages coming in on my watch and literally so many that long chunks of times would go by where I didn’t see my numbers, just messages of encouragement & support. I far from think of myself as an inspiring person. I race for a living so to me it’s my job. However YOU all inspired me to go another hour, climb another meter. This day I will hold close forever as the feeling given to me from close and from.a far is just indescribable. I love my town and my people ❤️ thank you for being in my life ! I will never forget this. ?? . . . #giddyupchallenge #whistler #onlyinwhistler #whistlerbc #everesting #whistlerblackcomb @matthew.tongue photo man

A post shared by Karsten Madsen (@karstenmad) on

“After about eight hours I wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew,” Madsen, who’s cross triathlon racing is focused on efforts three hours or less, said. “Before Saturday my longest ride had been 4:30 and the most vertical I’d done was 3,000 m.”

While he was thankful for some helpful advice from fellow athletes on fuelling and pacing, ultimately Madsen credits the amazing community support he received for getting him through the epic day. His family helped him prepare nutrition bags and, while he was riding, he received lots of support, too. His watch was connected to his phone and there were times he was getting so many messages from supporters that he’d go 15 minutes without seeing any data.

Photo: Matthew Tongue

“Throughout the 11 and a half hours people kept coming to climb some laps with me,” he added. “People were also driving by and playing themed music.”

Even though he had only four days to get the word out about the challenge, Madsen was able to raise over $1,000 through his efforts along with some food donations to the local food bank. As of today the Giddy Up Challenge has raised a total of US$129,420.

Now that he’s finished this challenge, Madsen says he’s working on another effort in June – this one on a mountain bike.

“I want to do something that has a better impact than just training,” Madsen said.