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Mike Farny: Skin to thin air

— Nestle can have its 100 Grand bar. Local Mike Farny will take a hundred grand hiking.

Last winter, Farny skinned up to Thunderhead Lodge 50 times, for a total of 100,000 vertical feet. After that, he gladly went right into kayaking season — where he didn't have to use his legs.

"Skinning is the best-kept secret in town," he maintains. "You work up a sweat on the way up and then get to enjoy the mountain to yourself on the way down. And it's always different."

To achieve the feat, Farny knocked off Thunderhead three times a week for the entire ski season, typically starting at 6:30 a.m. and getting back down by 7:30 or 8 a.m. Climbing times, he says, varied from a heart-pounding 27 minutes to 45.

He kept to his pledge even when Mother Nature threw him monkey wrenches. "I went out one morning when it was 40 below out," he says. "The car had a hard time starting, but once I got skinning, my own engine was fine."

And the reward always comes on the descent. "Some mornings, I'll have amazing powder all to myself and then run into people hustling to get in the gondola line," he says. "If they only knew about skinning."

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Nate Bird: Mountain bike marathon

So some guy named Cadel and the Schleck brothers rode through town in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Big whoop. Let's see them keep up with local mountain biker extraordinaire Nate Bird.

In September, Bird embarked on a nine-hour (for him) ride that even he called epic. The route: up Spring Creek, up BTR, up to the Continental Divide Trail, left at the four-way, around Percy Lake, circumnavigating Rabbit Ears to Dumont Lake, back on the Divide Trail to Mountain View, and finally down the mountain to a well-deserved butt cushion and beer.

All this came after taking fourth-place overall in the 224-mile TransRockies race, which climbed 39,400 feet, and a few "shorter" local races. "My GPS pegged it at about 62 miles," he says. "What it didn't account for was one really hard wreck. I did it all with a couple of cracked ribs."

Garmin stats: Super Divide

Miles: 61.92

Time: 9:04:02

Average speed: 6.8 mph

Maximum speed: 36.5 mph

Elevation gain: 8,051 feet

Calories burned: 3,329

Maximum heart rate: 187 beats per minute

Allen Belshaw: Running on empty

Feeling good about that jog on the bike path? Not to burst your bubble, but local doctor Allen Belshaw ran not one but two 100-mile races in the summer. And he wanted to do more.

The chance came after Belshaw won a lottery spot to run the Western States 100, which also earned him the ability to complete the grand slam by racing the Leadville 100, Wasatch 100 and Vermont Trail 100. "I'm kind of winding down, but I couldn't pass up that opportunity," he says.

Alas, he had to settle for just completing two of them. "I was hoping for the grand slam, but I dropped out at 50 miles in Vermont, so I didn't even bother with the Wasatch," he says.

No matter. After reaching his goal of an under-24-hour finish in the Western, he did the same in Leadville. "I felt pretty good afterward," he says. "I'm not sure why."

And he's showing no signs of slowing down. Next year, as well as planning to race the new 100-mile category in the local Run Rabbit Run event, he also hopes to race the 100-plus-mile Ultra Marathon Tour of Mount Blanc in France. "We'll see if I come around," he says. "It's always interesting to train for those sorts of things."

Meanwhile, he remains an inspiration to the rest of us on the bike path. "Running two 100-milers in the same summer is pretty hard to do," says Cara Marrs, organizer of the Steamboat Springs Running Series. "It's a pretty big toll on the body, especially when you live in Steamboat with such a short training window."

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