It’s Never Too Late for a Lifetime of Adventure

Do you have trouble believing that you, too, could get in shape and enjoy an adventurous lifestyle? Denver resident Alison Weiss didn’t let such worries stop her from pursuing her goal of completing an adventure race. In the process of doing so, she discovered a new passion and direction in life.

“I’ve had my fifteen minutes of fame,” protested Aurora resident Allison Weiss mildly when I asked her if she’d be willing to talk to me about her involvement in adventure racing.

I first met Weiss (though I didn’t know it was her) last July to be precise, after I’d been running through the hills and mountains near Aspen for more than three hours along with my adventure racing teammates. Weiss and her companion awaited our arrival in a darkened meadow. The two of them, as volunteers at the X World Cup Adventure Race, had been flown in by helicopter hours earlier to serve as recorders at one of the race’s official checkpoints. We hailed them, thanked them for their volunteerism, and went on our tired way, little knowing that a few years earlier, the woman standing before us had weighed in at 150 pounds heavier than her current weight.

That was before her mother’s premature death prompted her to face the hard fact of her own lack of fitness. Stunned into action, Weiss decided to take control. Through proper diet and exercise, Weiss gradually lost the extra weight. As the weight came off, she found herself enjoying exercising more and more.

“I was really wanting to get into multidisciplinary sports,” she explained. “The main thing was to find activities to help me improve my fitness. I know that if I took up running and that’s all I did, I’d just get bored. Plus I love the mountains. I grew up in Colorado. I love to hike and to backpack, and I just love being up there.”

Weiss’s love of being outside and her pursuit of more than one fitness activity made her a natural fit for adventure racing, which usually incorporates at least three disciplines – trail running/hiking with navigation, mountain biking and paddling. Last March, when she heard about the 2000 sea2summit race that was taking place at Copper Mountain in August, she made it her goal to finish the race.

“I wanted to see if I could do it,” she said.

Weiss entered the two-day stage race (meaning competitors sleep at night) as an individual competitor, but planned to race with a male coworker who had also entered as an individual. As “teammates” the two trained together and supported one another throughout the race. When she reached the final section of the sea2summit on the second day – a mountain biking section – her teammate raced ahead, but Weiss was already elated. Though she hates mountain biking, it was at that point that she knew she was going to finish the race.

Not only did she finish the race, but also, she discovered a new passion and purpose in exercising that went beyond merely keeping fit. Today, at age 42, Weiss is more in shape than ever, thanks to her commitment to racing. She plans to compete in three adventure races and numerous smaller races this year. In addition she has become an enthusiastic promoter of the sport, volunteering at adventure races and working with an adventure racing club, among other activities – in fact, she said, she does something with adventure racing nearly every day.

“I used to say, ‘I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me.’ Now I’m seeing a running coach and thinking about getting involved in 50Ks,” said Weiss, quickly adding, “but the only reason I’m running is for adventure racing!”

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