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Name: Jason Mittman

Birthday: December 22, 1970

Occupation: Business Consultant

Home: Austin, TX

Event Start Date: January 13th, 2001

The Challenge:
(in under 30 hours)

30 kilometer run

300 kilometer bike
(hitting 30mph at least 3 times)

Lift 3 tons of weights

30 push-ups and 30 sit-up every 30 minutes of the run

Drink 3 Texas beers (Shiner Bock or Lone Star)

Eat 3 KING PIN fritters

Raise $30,000 for the Young Survivors Coalition
(YSC supports women under 30 with breast cancer)





photo: jason and sheila.

The Young Survivor

Read Jason's Diary (with photos)

See the Video (coming soon)

Jason Mittman of Austin, Texas, heard about birthdaychallenge.com a couple of days before his 30th birthday. With no time to organize anything for the actual day of his birth, the Team Vignette adventure racer sprang into action and concocted one of the most ambitious challenges yet. Here's the letter we received:

Dear birthdaychallenge.com:

Like the subject line says I am turning 30.  

The big day is this Friday (Dec 22nd). I was trying to determine how on earth could I top the events of age 29?  A half marathon, a marathon, a 50 mile ultra-run, and the Eco-challenge in Malaysia.

My friends told me about the website: <http://www.birthdaychallenge.com>

I looked it over and well… no rest for the weary!

30 days from my 30th Birthday, I am going to, in no more than 30 hours:

- Bike 300 kilometers
- Run 30 kilometers
- Lift 3 tons worth of weights
- Raise $30,000 for the Young Survivors Coalition in the process.  (YSC supports young women under 40 with breast cancer)

right: "It says there's supposed to be a checkpoint around here somewhere.

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This seemed a tad ambitious but we at birthday challenge are all for being overly ambitious and jumped right in, trying to help However we could.

Links for Young Survivor were placed on the site and we put up a journal so that our audience could follow Jason's breakneck organization and training.

left:  some of team vignette after the motorola marathon.


As if the physical challenge wasn't hard enough, Jason's goal to raise 30 large was even more daunting. His first weekend he got around 3 grand by sending out personal emails. However, with a little over 1 week to go he was still nearly 20K short.

Pounding the corporate pavement, Jason was able to come up with most of the money by pledging to make a video of the event and then make it available to major sponsors.

Of course, now he had even more organizational nightmares. Anyone who has done a challenge realizes just how difficult it is to coordinate one of these events. Adding the pressure of TV and news coverage and becoming beholden to corporate sponsors makes it doubly so. But Jason hung in. Sounding more and more frantic as the big day approached, he still managed to get an amazing support team on board. He even wrangled a ticket to fly birthday challenge founder Stainless Steve in for the event.

The final week was a whirlwind of activity and saw things nearly come crashing down, literally. First, Jason--exhausted from training--ran his bike into his carport and damaging the fork. Then, trail running in the dark, he took a huge spill that he was lucky to walk away from.

After some last-minute appearances on radio, television, and the Austin 360 Web site he was finally finished with his preparation. All that was left was the pain and suffering of the event itself.

right: early in the ride, a slew of support.

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Then it rained.

A 300-hundred kilometer (186 miles) bike is no picnic but it's much easier to ride with a group than alone. Also, with multi support vehicle's planned for most of the ride it's easier for the rider to draft them, lessening the strain of peddling into the wind.

However, with rain everything gets thrown off. Your can't draft vehicles because you get pelted with water. Then, Jason's mass of support rider's started dropping off and by a third of the way in, he was mainly with only one or two riders.

As it got dark, the rain turned into a wet, cold, intense fog. After bonking toward evening, he seemed to be recovering fine and was cruising toward the finish when he abruptly pulled off the road and bonked again...HARD.

At first, everyone was very concerned. He looked as though he may be finished as he lay on the ground in a light rain. Jason was lifted into one of the support vehicles where, after a few moments, he got down a couple of packets of Gu.

He responded quickly to the Gu and it then became apparent that he was massively underfed. Quickly consuming about 4 sandwiches and a thermos of Top Raman, he looked much, much better and then got back on his bike and finished the ride no problem.

left: our riding party is now two strong. no problem with that.


At the post-ride feast, Jason looked happy but pretty worked and very concerned about how he would recover. After forcing down as much food as possible, he and Sheila went home for a few hours of much-needed sleep.

In the morning, Jason gave another TV interview and looked nothing like the guy who could barely sit up straight only a few hours prior.

Rested and confident, he started the 30K (18 mile) run in fine form.

right: with his game face on.

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The run went well for the most part. Everyone that had been with Jason the night before was marveling at his recovery. He had to stop every 30 minutes and fire off 30 push-ups and sit-ups and he was doing it with great style and panache.

Toward the end of the run things started to look different. The push-ups and sit-ups started to go a little slower, as did Jason's running pace. On the final hill he even had to walk a little but there was never a question the he was going to finish as his game face was firmly in place.

left:  roberta, of young survivor, and jason give a post-race interview.

As he neared the stadium, which marked the finish to the run, he looked tired and sore. Just outside, he had one more set of push-ups/sit-ups to perform. Here he was greeted by Roberta, the founder of Young Survivor, and her parents, who are life-long friends.

This seemed to re-charge Jason's energy one more time and he blasted through his push-ups like they were the first set of the day. Then, it was  into the stadium for a victory lap, where he and Roberta were besieged once again by Channel 8, Austin.

Next, it was off to Powerhouse Gym to lift some weight. Since 3-tons of weight (6,000lbs) can be polished off rather easily Jason and Steve had talked about the possibility of doing a much stouter (and better sounding) 30,000lbs. Jason kept this in confidence, though it leaked out once to sympathetic onlookers who pleaded him not to attempt it.

He worked right through his three tons without any mention of what he was up to--all the while casually giving an interview to a report from the University of Texas press.

The 30,000 pounds started to take its toll. While Jason appeared outwardly that he was having no problem, he was still suffering. He would quietly confide with Stainless about exercises he could do that wouldn't tax certain muscles that were spent. Quickly, it was determined that legs weren't happening, which made this final quest much more demanding.

right: the inside joke, "30,000lbs, no problem...wait, err, let's do a different exercise..."

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In the end, Jason survived just fine. By the time pound 30,000 was hoisted the crowd had departed and it was down to the originators: Jason, Steve, his girlfriend Sheila, and Megan Haley, the person who had put Jason and birthdaychallenge together. They left the gym in what was a quiet contrast to the mayhem that was most of the weekend. Jason gamely tried a bite of the feared and storied fritter but, being hypoglycemic, it was just a homage to tradition. He and Sheila then drove off for some quiet time, and probably to get some sleep.

Jason's challenge was a resounding success, and raised the bar for what a birthday challenge can do. His boundless enthusiasm gives him an advantage with raising money and organizing, something we at birthdaychallenge hope becomes contagious. Look for Jason's upcoming article on raising money. If he can put together something like this in 3 weeks, just think of what one could do with a year to plan. Thanks Jason, for raising our game.