Latest Updates from Birthday Challenges Far and Wide...




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Reed Bartlett's 35th 'Labor' Day!

So who says it's a day of rest? Reed 'The Imbiber' Bartlett battled through his second Birthday Challenge over the Labor Day weekend in Santa Barbara. Cranked through the cycling, sandbagged on the run, tested on the bouldering, and soaked in a kayak, and pushed to his ultimate limits by the loathsome King Pin fritters, super burritos and cocktails, Reed pushed through to a uncompromising success (well...almost!). Full wrap-up coming soon, complete with photos.



Greg Carter's Wrap-up Just in!

Check out Greg's detailed report of his Texas-style challenge.



Birthday Challenge  Central

Todd Mei has the taunts flying from our fly-over-zone headquarters in Madison, WI. Boulders Climbing Gym has become the official Midwest birthday challenge drinking destination. See you there ... okay, maybe not. 

The Madison birthday challenge board is up in Boulders.  It features some literature written by Steve as well as pictures and write ups from past and future challenges here in Madison. 

I added something else to my challenge.  Through the course of the challenge, I have to listen to only one CD-- Steve Miller's Greatest Hits. Sandbag. 

I was training for my two finger, one arm lock offs by doing a regular one arm lock off while drinking a 12 oz beer.  Of course it was Pabst.  It's fun and sort of easy.  Try it. 

Well, tomorrow I'm off to the Tower, but not before running seven miles and then drinking Gimlets at 11AM.  I'm going to try and get Neuman to do a night climb with me.  Perhaps the only time I will go up the Durance again. 

Well, the challenge is out there for all you West Coast pansies.  We have several birthday challenges here in Wisconsin from pretty fit individuals. Neuman's takes place in the dead of winter.  Tim Halbakken, Nate Emerson and myself have birthdays on April 4th, 8th, and 12th.  Ever done a triple challenge?  Nate is a distance runner.  I had trouble keeping up with him on the 30 mile trail run towards the end.  He also climbs rather hard. Altogether, I think we might as well go head to head against you soft, bronze bums. Anyway, you should sanction at least the January or April challenges.  I'll need a lot of support for my challenge, especially the part where I have to entertain 30 people at my bar.  I don't think I know 30 people.


Power and Endurance

David Batka of Atlanta has signed up for a one-year challenge. Not only does his challenge combine both power and endurance sports but he plans to raise $32,000 for charity!  So far, it looks like this:

Here is my birthday challenge for the next 320 days, I turned 32 on June 20 this year:

Beginning August 13, 2001 and ending June 29, 2002 (320 Days).

1. Raise $32,000 for Cure Childhood Cancer or Atlanta Miracle League

2. Run a total of 1032 miles
3. Run 3.2 miles in 32 minutes running backward
4. Run 4.5 miles in 32 minutes running forward
5. Run 32 miles in 32 hours in the 32nd state (MN)
6. Run 4 times up and down St. Mountain (cumulative total of 3200 ft elevation) in less than 3:20. Performed 3 times.
7. Run outside in only shorts, socks and shoes for 32 minutes in
32F weather
8. Bike 320 miles in 3 consecutive days, crossing 3 states and reaching an elevation over 3200 ft. (Blueridge Pkwy - VA, NC, TN)
9. Accomplish 10K/40K/10K biathlon in less than 3:20
10. Bench press 320 lbs every 32 days
11. Jump rope for 3 min 20 seconds, perform 32 pull-ups, 32 push-ups, 32 free standing squats, 32 crunches, 32 tricep dips, and run 3.2 miles in less than 32 minutes. Performed every 32 days.
12. Perform 32 consecutive Bruce Lee "Flags"
13. Jump rope for 32 consecutive minutes, with 3 min 20 sec cumulative break
14. Fast for 32 hours
15. Trim down to 32" waist (at 34" now)
16. Enjoy 32 oz of Coors Light and 32 Fritters with 32 friends at 3233 Roswell Road, Atlanta.

We're wondering if he bought that house just for his birthday challenge.


More Wisconsin

They've been talking big up in Wisconsin. Here is another proposed challenge for  Patrick Neuman,  along with a challenge for, apparently, anyone that lives anywhere it isn't minus 50 all winter.

I am sending you a final draft of my birthday challenge.  It will be done on
January 15th, in Wisconsin.  I notice in the website that pain and suffering
are mentioned frequently.  Well let me tell you, no one knows what pain and
suffering is until they have spent extended time in Wisconsin. Living here
is pure hell. God damn. So here is my birthday challenge to be done on my
23rd birthday, January 15th, 2002.

23 mile cross country ski
230 pullups in 23 minutes
2,300 crunches
23 boulder problems (indoors, lame but necessary)
23 lead routes (indoors, lame but necessary)
23 kayak rolls or wet exits in the icy Lake Monona
23 snowmen
23 snow angels
2.3 mile run in nothing but running shorts and shoes
23 oz of Guinness
23 oz of Boddingtons
23 oz Highlife
23 oz of Peet's 101 blend
46 buffalo wings
2.3 bowls of chili
to be completed within 23 hours

I encourage you to sanction this event.  Todd thinks you guys are pussies.
Prove him wrong.  Live your life.

Patrick Neuman


DB's initial Challenge a rousing success!

David Brainard of Santa Barbara completed his first birthday challenge on Friday. Long known for being an uber-domestique on other's challenges, DB concocted his own rugged day that featured a 100-mile bike ride, a 46-minute episode in a skate park, and a total of 460 from a myriad of choices that mainly saw him drinking beer and doing push-ups. 

Aided by his new Litespeed Ultima, he cruised through the Santa Barbara century (featuring around 3,000 ft of climbing) in a ride time of 5:22. This was followed by a stint at the Cabrillo Skate Park where the 46-year-old was probably the only one over legal drinking age. After showing the kids what some experience can do, it was home for some push-ups followed by a steady string of beers late into the Santa Barbara Fiesta evening 'til the total number reached 460.

Muy bueno.


The Wisconsin Giant

Todd Mei has finally got in his report on  Tim Halbakken's  challenge. Apparently, due to either the horrendous Wisconsin weather or perhaps the inebriated state of the participants only one photo has survived. This doesn't seem to have stopped the locals from taunting us coasters to join in on their cheesehead shenanigans. 


The Latest from Austin

Greg Carter has just sent us a preliminary report. Sounds like it went pretty well and we look forward to the details. Good job, Greg! 

Well it's over! I will send you a better right up with pictures in the next few days, but here is the short rundown:
I managed to finish everything except the soup and songs. In the interest of style, we decided not to sully the memory of the Dead by rushing through the last 12 songs in the last hour of the challenge. Instead we dragged out a few with nice extended jams. We had at least 7 people playing guitars, mandolins, drums egg shakers and harmonicas. To make up for it, several members of the musician support crew gathered around me as I hula hooped my way through the last 32 minutes of the challenge. While hooping to String Cheese Incident coming out the windows from the stereo, with a tex-mex in one hand and a bicycle water bottle filled with noodles in the other, we sang 8 of the last 9 songs acapella. Unfortunately, in the last few minutes, I had to abandon the songs and attempt to suck down one and a half soups and the last beer. As I dropped my hoop, the beer was gone and I still had three minutes to spare. The water bottle was tipped high over my head. Stray noodles and broth were spilling over my mouth and onto my chest. The crowd was chanting. They were mesmerized, some caught up in the excitement of the moment, others staring wide-eyed in horror at the spectacle.
And then I hit the hot sauce...
My wife and a few friends had conspired against me! They decided that I needed a change of pace for the last soup. They stuck with the standard Nissan shrimp flavored cup O' Soup, but found a spicy variety that comes with a small packet of super-hot hot sauce. This is what I found in the bottom half of the water bottle! I made an attempt to down it, but had to give up with about 3 ounces left.
Regardless, I had a great time throughout the challenge. This will definitely be a birthday to remember!


The Rectal Challenge: any volunteers?

San Diego resident Brent "Brett Stone" Culver has proposed his 30th birthday challenge. See what happens when you quit climbing and go to Med School. 

The unfortunate consequence of being a medical nerd is all I've done for the past seven years is rectal exams. When I turned thirty this year I actually joked that the only birthday challenge that I was in any shape for was "thirty rectals in thirty minutes". Any volunteers? It would sorta be like that porn star that had 100 guys in an hour, or what ever.


The Countdown Has Begun

Greg's wife Megan reported in this morning on Greg's Cup O' Soup challenge. 

The countdown to the challenge has begun.......  I dropped Greg off at work this morning.  His work is conveniently located at the end of the greenbelt. He'll kick-off the challenge at 3:00 with a cup-o-soup and a steamy ride down the greenbelt.  A couple of us will be strategically placed in the greenbelt for some climbing stops.  Then it's on to vball for some 2-on-2 and song playing.  We'll finish up tonight's effort with a night kayak up to Red Bud Island on town lake.  It will be a nice way to wind down and cool off.  Up early and out to Rheimer's for day 2 and the majority of the climbing.  We'll hit Muleshoe Park on Lake Travis on the way home for the remaining off-road mileage (biking and running).   If we're lucky, a few loyal supporters will have gathered at our house for the final push of cup-o-soup eating, beer drinking, song singing and hula-hooping.  Sounds like a regular old birthday party. Being the engineer that he is, he has it planned to the T including a speadsheet with estimated times for events and a consumption schedule.  I hope to never be this anal on any day, but particularly on my birthday! 


Fritters vs. Soup

Jaime Grant's duel with the dreaded Kin Pin Fritter has come to a close, while Greg Carter's Cup O' Soup challenge is just heatin' up, literally. Check out their stories!


Yosemite Challengers

Check back soon for more photos and a story from Hans Florine (37) and Bob Banks (30).  Just as soon as Bob gets his trusty camera back there'll most assuredly be lore for the ages.


King Pin, Once again!

After supporting his wife Lydia's challenge, Jaime Grant had learned so much about how to prepare that he dared go where only seasoned-challenged vets have succeeded before: King Pin Donuts! Rumor out of Berkeley is that four fritter were purchased late last night and that some maniac is biking around town with a grease-stained jersey. Could this be our man...


Yosemite Challengers

Friday June 29th found Hans Florine (37) and Bob Banks (30) doing a combo Birthday Challenge in Yosemite. The pair first teamed up for 37 and 30 pitches of climbing respectively before Hans went on to 37 hours of daddy-duty with the delightful Florine daughter Marianna. He managed to fit in 37 oz. of ice cream, 37 oz. of beer, 37 kisses on Marianna and 37 Yoga poses held for 37 seconds each. Meanwhile, Bob 'Enzo' Banks, in a rare day of continuous sobriety, trudged on to 30 boulder problems, 300 pull-ups and finished the day off with a hellacious 30k run/hike to the top of Half Dome. Read the details on their pages!


Birthday Challenge: The TV Show?

Could be. Actually, it's in the works! We are in the process of getting some footage together to pitch the show. We are looking for a few challenges to run and film concurrently. If you've a birthday coming up and want your challenge filmed email us at:

Keep in mind that your challenge needn't be world shattering in difficulty. It just needs to be creative and difficult for you. Your challenge should fit into these criteria:

If you think you have something creative but your birthday doesn't fit our time frame let us know, as we are quite creative at finding ways to make that date work with us.


Cup-O-Soup and the Texas Summer II

We just got word from the man himself. Read it and weep:

Megan told me she sent you a message already letting you know that training has begun, so I figured it was about time I committed to some stakes. I have recently done some training days to asses my chances and I must say that the results have been disheartening. More than a few times I had second thoughts about my intended challenge events, but in the true spirit of Birthday Challenge (it's all about the challenge right?!!!) I am going to stick to my original aspirations. So here it is:
In the middle of the Texas summer (Temperature: at least 96 degrees. Humidity: very likely over 96%), In 32 hours,
32 miles mountain biking
3.2 mile run
32 point game of 2 on 2 sand volleyball
3.2 miles paddling
32 lead climbing pitches
32 minutes hoola hooping
32 Dead songs sung and played on mandolin or guitar
And the dreaded consumption challenge...
16 Tex-Mex's (Lone Star beer with a lime)
16 Nissan brand shrimp flavored Cup-O-Noodles (much more than a soup)
I am pretty sure that the climbing will be the most physically demanding part of my challenge, but not surprisingly, I am most concerned about the noodles. Of course I have a long history of eating several of them before most big climbing events, but I think the most I have ever eaten in a sitting (and possibly in a single day) is three. And then there is the overheating factor. To make it possible, I will have to spread them out throughout the heat of the day, and being a purist, I must eat them hot. Who knows what will be the effect of attempting to pull a burly roof under the blazing Texas sun with three quarts of hot ramen noodles packed in one's belly? But it seems to me that it was for answering these questions that Birthday Challenge was created...

 Keep on on his progress here.


Cup-O-Soup and the Texas Summer

We just got a progress report from Megan Haley about her husbands upcoming challenge:

Preparations are underway for the Greg's bday challenge.  He should be sending you some info soon.  We had a good day of mountain biking and climbing yesterday.  Far cry from the bday challenge goals though.  It's going to be a tough one!   It was pretty damn hot yesterday.  The thought of a cup-o-soup, much less 16, was slightly nauseating.   I predict some spewage and perhaps a life long hatred of cup-o-soup.

If the line about 16 cup-o-soup line has you curious, well, we're with ya. Check back shortly as Greg's page should be up soon.


"Support" the Disco Gal

Seemingly Molly wouldn't have had to struggle through her challenge all alone as we have been flooded with mail--strangely enough all from men--offering their services should she need any "support". 

Thanks, guys, but her birthday has already passed (but maybe you should send photo and resume should she need to assemble a team for next year)...


Return of the Disco Gal

Molly Meade became our first repeat challenger, though specifics of her challenge remain somewhat of a mystery. Last year, after hearing about Bob, Steve, and Hans training for theirs she did an off-the-couch affair that you can read about here. This year she had bowed out, or so we thought, until this came last week:

 I cut my time by 23 minutes - finished in 4:40 (San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon).  Maybe I am getting more fit.  It's been less than a week and I'm almost fully recovered - my right knee still hurts slightly but nothing like it did after San Francisco.  I only feel slightly guilty about not doing my challenge today but have decided to modify it slightly - still did 28 miles running, will bike 28 miles today, spend over $280 dollars shopping, sun bathe (if the damn sun comes out) for 28 minutes, and have sex 2.8 times.  Perhaps have 2.8 cocktails as well.  I'll give you a run down tomorrow and see how much of this I actually do.  I can pretty much guarantee that I'll spend the $280 - Santa Monica here I come!

We look forward to the full report.


Almost Challenges

2001 seems to be, so far, the year of the almost challenge as many more challenges have been cancelled than attempted. There have been a myriad of excuses--er, I mean reasons--for this. Often work and/or weather have played a part but it seems like many people are just putting too much pressure on themselves to do something heroic. When it looks as though things might go awry they are passing.

Unfortunately, we think this means that they are missing the point, which is to try. Ultimate success comes with the struggle. The end is just something to shoot for; an excuse, if you will, to try something a little out of the comfort zone. Most challengers are not rating the life-altering quality of their personal quests upon whether or not they have succeeded on all their tasks.

As advice to try and thwart this trend, perhaps have a look at Steve Edwards' history and Ted Pederson's parting thoughts. All challenges needn't be so far out there that you haven't much chance at success. Steve has had many years that have been mildly ambitious and Ted's is testament that success bares little result on personal satisfaction. If it's your first go, perhaps try something a tad less ambitious. After all, there is always next year.

That being said, there just happens to be some major things on the near horizon:

Aaron Baker has a wicked day planned, just as soon as he can remember what day he was born.

Always a gamer, Hans Florine has signed on to be our first repeat challenger, though specifics have not yet been settled.

And Birthday Challenges' own Roberto Banks is cooking up something--albeit a bit more conventional then last year--at the end of June.

And in July, Lena Walker will attempt an ultra-grueling affair that will most certainly raise the bar for women at Birthday Challenge.


Kenji's Challenge Make SNEWS

It's been called "the People Magazine of the Outdoor Industry" and here's what they had to say about Kenji's birthday challenge:

Haroutunian Rises To the Challenge!

Our collective SNEWS hats off to Kenji Haroutunian, trade show rep for Outdoor Retailer, who successfully completed his Epic Birthday Challenge ( To celebrate is 40th birthday, he completed a ridiculous number of epic tasks in four days. While we question his sanity, there is no questioning his heart and the ultimate goal of collecting pledges totaling $4,000 donated to Friends of Joshua Tree -- SNEWS would like to hear of other industry folks who undertake challenges ? no they don't have to be this, uh, intense or, well, odd ? with a goal of giving back to the environment, community, or industry. Send your info to:


Troy Mayr Signs On

Troy has a long history of offbeat and very difficult challenges, birthday or not. His page should be up shortly and he has a birthday challenge planned but has yet to officially announce it. It will be post birthday, since that just passed. It seems a challenge for others is a mere day out for Troy. Here is his birthday email:

FYI did a 30 mile Mtn Bike ride last night with 4000' of climbing and this morning did a hilly 100 miler on the road bike to Newport Bch and back in 5:40:00, as a B-day ride with my cycling buddies...


Zero Hour for Kenji

Kenji's 96-hour epic starts today at noon. If anyone wants to help support or track him down call his cell phone at (310) 489-3281. The tentative schedule looks like this:

Wed afternoon: clock starts ticking once he enters Disneyland with 4 kids in tow.

Thurs: 40 rock climbing routes. Starting at 7am at the High Desert, near Apple Valley, CA, then Lucerne Limestone and Margheritaville.

Fri: skiing at Bear Mountain, 8am start. Night skiing if necessary at Snow Summit.

Sat: football, bowling, bouldering, singing, eating, drinking, etc in Culver City, CA.

Sun: unfinished business 'til noon...and maybe some added kayaking if all is well!

He will be writing daily diaries (if he's able) so check back each day.


Halbakken Braves Fierce Conditions to Complete Challenge

Congratulations to Tim Halbakken for completing most of his birthday
challenge under very adverse conditions.  There'll be a proper write up sent
in soon.

But for now, let it be known that Tim and his support team began with the
threat of rain only to find themselves driving to Devil's Lake under a long
and continuous down pour.  The prior few days saw 2 inches of rain.  When we
got there the mixture was so great to see, rain and snow.  The rock at the
Lake is so hard that water can dry quickly if there's a wind.  Well, there
was no wind.  Humidity was at 80%.  Despite this, Tim repeated 23 problems
(V0 to V4, Devil's Lake ratings, that is) three times with wet shoes, a
towel, a blow torch, and lots of heart.  Oh yeah, the Lake rock is slicker
than Indian Rock.

The rain pushed things back far enough that we were doing the 14.3 miles of
running in the dark, on country roads...grim.  By the time we got to the
small town of Lodi, the rain had started again and the shoulders on the
roads got narrower to non-existent.  We decided to not do the cycling to
Madison.  Support driver Tom Norrdin said if we had decided to he would have
"dissuaded us", physically that is.

Tim then drank 2 very stiff Manhattans, 3 porters and ate 2.3 burritos in
the course of the day.  Yes, burritos as big as your head.

Tim is 23 but probably feels more like 53 this morning.

- Todd Mei reporting


Wisconsin Yokel and Fargo Giant Tackle Midwest Birthday Challenges

Tim Halbakken and Nate Emerson, two die hard route setters for Madison's Boulders Climbing Gym, decided to match their years with physical aptitude. Spring has come and gone, and it's winter again here in Wisconsin.   So, there's no time like the present. While reticent about their challenges, both Nate and Tim plan to spend much of their time in the Devil's Lake area doing speed bouldering, trail running, and biking.  With many treacherous falls, support for the two will come mostly in pads and spots.  Tim then plans to match his years with feet of air in snowboarding at Madison's magnificent Tyrol Basin. Then there's the drinking.   I'm not sure Nate drinks much but Tim is a member of the Nacirema Drinking Society and prefers Manhattans.  Todd Mei will be there to make sure they're shaken properly.

Todd Mei, field correspondent


Friend of Josh

Kenji Haroutunian has taken the plunge and decided to try and raise $4,000 for The Friends of Joshua Tree, a non-profit organization that helps coordinate climber/park relations.  He's had nearly no time to train, yet is still attempting to more than double the number of climbing pitches he has ever done in a day, plus deal with four kids at Disneyland ... alone!

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