Fifty-two athletes competed in a first-for-Guam virtual elevation gain challenge the week of May 18. Created by Southern Mountain Gear, the “Guam 14er Challenge” tasked participants to gain 14,000 feet of elevation by walking, running, or biking over the course of seven days. A total of 26 people completed the challenge within the timeframe.
“At eight weeks into the lockdown, we wanted to give people some motivation to challenge themselves physically, and we also wanted to create an event that at least had the feel of doing something active together,” said Daniel Holms, owner of Southern Mountain Gear, an outdoor gear retail business with a storefront above Submarina in Skinner Plaza.
The fee to enter was $20, and all proceeds ($1,040.00) were donated to animal welfare and rescue nonprofit organization H.E.A.R.T. Guam and The Learn Chamorro Project Inc., a nonprofit that creates youth-friendly tools for learning the CHamoru language.
Participants each wore a bright yellow “Guam 14er Challenge” bib while trying to find and conquer the steepest inclines on island by foot or bike. Some athletes hiked a single hill up to seven times a day — popular spots being Mount Lamlam, Kmart hill, and Nimitz Hill — and others gained elevation more gradually at different hiking spots or over long bike rides.
“I signed up because it was a good cause, and I wanted to push myself,” said Ann Marie Gawel, a finisher of the challenge. “There was a funny sense of commiseration but also community around the challenge. It was not easy at all, and it took a lot of time and energy, but I felt amazing after it was done. Plus, I got outdoors and got to see beautiful sites on island to get that elevation in.”
While most athletes divided their elevation gain evenly over seven days, one participant, Alex Crans, completed all 14,000 feet by bike in a single day by repeatedly riding from the Guam Veterans Cemetery in Piti to the top of Turner Road on Nimitz Hill.
The 26 finishers were: Janice Avanzado, Blanca Camacho, Eugene Carino, Lani Chargualaf, Sterling Corbin, Chuck Cornely, Jennifer Cornely, Alex Crans, Ann Marie Gawel, James Gnocci, Rommie Hale, Jack Hanson, Jackie Hanson, Daniel Holms, Erin Holms, Brian Johnson, John J. Kim, Phil Law, Paul Llobet, Noel Ponseca, Michelle Santos, James Sardea, Daniel Shimanski, Justin Sieffert, Kirk Winger, and Noelani Yano.