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Name: Ingrid Tistaert

Birthday: December 7, 1974

Occupation:   Editor, Ski Patrol Magazine.


26,000 vertical feet of snowboarding on blackdiamond runs

2.6 miles running

260 push-ups

260 crunches

26 shots of beer and alcohol

photo: me in the terrain park about to do an indy grab. i can't understand why the jump felt so big when i did it, 'cause it sure doesn't look it.

Tora, Tora, Tora
Ingrid’s 26th Birthday Challenge

I'm going to race. I'm going to lose. And, I'm going to die.
–John Cusack, Better off  Dead

Rise and shine, the alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and suddenly those beers I had the night before didn’t seem like such a good idea. Running on about three hours sleep, I roll over, hit the alarm, and immediately drift back into the dreamworld I had so rudely been awoken from. Ten minutes later and the bastard is at it again…thank goodness for that snooze button, the holy terror of alarm after blazing alarm in the hangover morning; without it I might have slept ‘til noon and missed the big day altogether. I finally can’t stand the buzzing any more, shut the thing off once and for all, and jump out of bed to throw some snow-clothes on.

After a super-speedy tooth brushing I realize I’m gonna be late meeting my support team at 8:30 a.m. and rush to the base of the mountain making it just before nine. (slacker!)

I met up with my one man support team—the rest of my group had of course flaked out claiming colds or some such nonsense—Greg and I strapped our boards on, he set the altimeter, and we headed for the lift. Our plan was simple: we planned to do 26,000 vertical feet of snowboarding in as short of a time period as possible. We hopped to it, unloaded the lift, strapped in, tucked, and bombed the hill as fast as we could go. An hour and a half and six runs later we headed to the lodge and grabbed a quick caffeine fueling. Downing our coffee we threw our boards back on to finish off the rest of our 19 runs.

At 11:00 a.m. Greg and I met up with the second support team member and the three of us road like maniacs without rest for the next three and a half hours. We boarded through the terrain park a few times getting some good hits in and got some fresh powder at the edges of the runs and in the trees, but for the most part the boarding was pretty uneventful, yet very, very fun. I think the only strange thing to happen the entire day was when I skated into the lift line after about four hours of riding. For some reason I almost blacked out, and almost keeled over still strapped into my board, but luckily Craig, my other support-team member, happened to be standing right next to me and he caught me. I attributed this sign of weakness to the minimal amount of food I had eaten that morning—half of a blueberry muffin.

photo: here's the other support team member, greg and i grinning... oddly?

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After just under five hours, we found ourselves to have traveled 27,400 vertical feet and called it a day…of snowboarding anyways.

Where is My… Oh %@#&! Or: How the Birthday Challenge Took a Serious Turn for the Worse

The three of us unanimously agreed that a serious eating session was overdue and we decided to head to Eric’s, home of good, cheap bar food, lots of beer and the workplace of many friends. After taking the ski bus back down to my car I reached into my pocket to pull out my car keys and discovered… they were gone. This was horrible! I only had one, single key to my car and couldn’t get another copy made, as it was too old. I stood there in disbelief, wondering what I would do to get back into my car. Tired and wanting nothing more than a beer at this point, I stashed my board under the car and trudged off in my snowboard boots toward Eric’s to make a call to the ski area’s lost and found.

Five minutes later, disheartened with the bad news that my keys were NOT found at the ski area, I walked back to my car to get the VIN number so I could start the expensive and tedious process of making a new key for my vehicle. When I was almost to the car I had the second horrible realization of the day: my snowboard was gone. After a few alternating bouts of incredulous laughter interspersed with long strings of explicatives that would have made a sailor blush, I tried to relax as I swallowed the ridiculousness of all that had happened in the span of a half hour. I let out a sigh and headed back to the telephones to contact a locksmith so I could get into my car. It was now five o’clock, businesses were shutting down, I had no keys to my car, no keys to my house in Denver (an hour and a half drive from the mountains), no snowboard, no wallet, and the worst thing was that I was supposed to be at work the next morning at eight a.m. I headed back to the warmth of the restaurant where I could begin making calls.

I arrived at Eric’s and I was immediately greeted with a beer, on the house. Greg, who had then heard about what had happened, had arrived on the scene and informed me that he had found my keys. Because he teaches on the mountain, he had somehow known whom to call and my keys were found at the bottom of one of the lifts. Yahooooooo!

Rushing out to go pick them up, he arrived back at Eric’s with my keys and I was a much happier person. I settled in to enjoy my first beer of the evening and a large meal.


Being a teenager sucks, but that's the point, surviving it is the whole point. Quitting is not going to make you strong--living will.  –Christian Slater, Pump Up The Volume.

The After Effects of Two Beers, Some Not-So-Gentle Coercion, and a Fat Meal
Alright, so you may be asking yourself at this point in the Birthday Challenge Story if I met my challenge and lived up to the above quote… not a chance. I was a full-fledged quitter. I’ll be the first one to admit it. And as is indicated by the incredible length of time it has taken me to actually submit an account of my challenge (a month and 16 days to be exact), I’m not proud about my failure.

But here is my official account of what happened as I settled into drink, eat, and be merry: there I was surrounded by friends, tired as hell, drunk off of two beers, elated by the fact that my car keys were recovered, bummed that my snowboard was gone, and not feeling like lifting so much as a finger toward the rest of the challenge goals. At this time I still had about 6oz of beer left to consume (you may remember that my lofty aspiration was 26 oz of beer—the only realistic amount I could consume after my off of the couch exercise challenge), 260 push-ups, 260 crunches, and 2.6 miles to run. Yeah right. It was dark out and my knee hurt from riding so I immediately (and wimpily) ruled the running part of the challenge out. And as for the push-ups… there’s a somewhat good story here. Everyone I was hanging out with knew about my crunch and push-up goal and they wanted to see it bad. Unfortunately for me, they wanted to watch me do my push-ups—all 26 of them as they had so conveniently changed the amount to be—on top of the table in the restaurant on a packed Thursday night.


But they wouldn’t have any of that. Oh, the heckling they gave me. "C’mon all you have to do is 26 push-ups here, nobody’s even going to care. We’ll all chime in and count out loud for you so everyone will know just what you’re doing. It’ll be fun!"


On and on this went for at least the next hour, hour and a half, until finally I put my foot down and gave a definitive, "NO!"

Yes, it’s true, I may have been a party pooper, but I just couldn’t bring myself to embarrass myself like that. Every time I tried to envision myself doing the push-ups, visions of stupid frat boy tricks popped into my head and my decision was further cemented.

So what ended up happening? Nothing much. I finished my beer consumption for the challenge and we headed up to my friend’s house. At some point when I was hanging out there, I managed to slip upstairs on the sly and pull off 260 quick crunches and 26 push-ups. At least it was something I suppose. My ego wouldn’t have let me quit entirely, but I was pretty damn close.

After reading this quote, I couldn’t help but think of my own situation and how well it applied to my birthday. I think it’s pretty appropriate; I merely had to substitute a few key words and wham! There you have it, straight from the mouth of Ingrid:


"Doing a Birthday Challenge sometimes sucks, but that's the point, surviving it is the whole point. Quitting is not going to make you strong—living and succeeding will." 

–Ingrid Tistaert, Birthday Challenge 2000.


There’s always next year….

photo: craig and i as we sat down to take a brief brake from our 26 thou

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Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?

–Orson Welles, Ed Wood