Chris Gladden was in some pain as he started his 18th trek up the Y Mountain trail Saturday morning.
For the second year in a row, Gladden and a few friends from the trail-running community had started hiking/running the trail Friday, hoping to get in 27 full trips to the top of the Y and back before dark on Saturday.
The number wasn’t chosen arbitrarily: 27 trips up and down the trail equals approximately 29,000 feet in elevation gain — similar to Mount Everest, which measures in at 29,029 feet in elevation.
“People keep asking me if this is because I’m training for Everest,” Gladden said. “I have no interest in doing Everest, ever.”
But it seemed like a good goal to shoot for when Gladden and his friend Jonathan Scott tried — and completed — the feat for the first time a year ago.
Though inspired by Everest, “Yikeverest” isn’t meant to mimic hiking the world’s tallest mountain, Gladden said.
“You can’t compare hiking up to the Y with full blow aid stations and bathrooms every two miles to hiking Everest,” Gladden said. “That’s not the point.”
This year, Gladden came a bit more prepared than in 2017, with a support group waiting at the base with food, water and foam rollers.
Though only three people ended up finishing all 27 laps, many others came throughout the days and night to help keep pace and offer support. Gladden estimated the turnout was at least double what he saw for the same event last year.
Gladden has been a hiker for years, but didn’t get into endurance athletics until much more recently. He struggled with health issues for several years, culminating in a surgery in 2015 to remove part of his colon.
For weeks after, Gladden couldn’t do anything more strenuous than a walk.
“When I got clearance to hit the trail again, I just took off and never stopped,” Gladden said.
In 2017, Gladden signed up to run seven marathons, including the Corner Canyon Trail run at the end of 2017, a 50K trail run whose proceeds go to local cancer patients.
As much as he loved running those races, he’s not sure he’d want his unofficial “Yikeverest” climb to ever become an official race.
For one thing, race directors don’t get to participate. And while he thinks people would sign up to do it, he enjoys the way it is now.
“I’d much rather just gather with my crazy trail friends,” Gladden said.
Starting at noon Friday, Gladden and the others intending to complete the full 27 round trips were averaging just over 30 minutes per trip, hiking up the trail and jogging back down.
As the night wore on, the laps gradually slowed, but by Saturday evening, three women had completed all 27: Katie Barney, Myla Coletti and Gretta Jensen.
Gladden said he had a seizure in the middle of the night, zapping his strength so he “only” completed 19 round trips to the Y.
Despite not completing as much as he hoped, Gladden said he’s already looking forward to doing it all over again next year.