Sleep When You're Dead Adventure Race

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Are you an Eco-Challenge binge watcher? Ever watched an adventure race and wondered, “Could I do that?” Have you ever wondered just what kind of people even participate in those wacky races? After we hosted the 12-hour, overnight Sleep When You’re Dead Adventure Race in October, we realized, those people are OUR kind of people!

Katie Ferrington, a Colorado local who recently raced in the Fiji Eco-Challenge with her team Georgia AR. (Yes she knows Bear Gryls…but we think she is even cooler than he is). Katie reached out to us in mid-September asking for a favor: her race venue in the Red Feather Lakes region in northern Colorado had been closed due to the horrible wildfires that have ravaged the state this fall and she was desperate to try and salvage the experience for the racers. She needed a venue…ideally, a big one.

This is how we ended up hosting a 12-hour, overnight mountain biking, hiking and orienteering race that covered over 37 miles on the COEC/Sanborn Western Camps property. It might have been the greatest Find Your Way Back hike of all time!

The details were worked out quickly in late September and, by late afternoon of the event, the racers began to arrive in the High Trails parking lot. By nightfall, the energy, excitement and nervousness was palpable. With the spooky nature of trying to find your way around to small marked points in the dark, Katie and her husband, Nic, capitalized on some of the creepier spots on the ranch (apparently the checkpoint in the Quicks Homestead scared the pants off of more than a few racers!).

The race started off with a team building challenge familiar to many former HTOEC staff members: the marble pass. Then, racers took off on their bikes or on foot to find the 31 unique checkpoints spread across our 6,000 acres.

As the hosts, we made sure Katie and her team had everything they needed, and we were on-call in case of an emergency–but everything went off without a hitch. In adventure racing, getting lost is a fairly commonplace and expected experience, which is why it is essential that teams work together to take care of each other and keep each other physically safe and mentally strong.

By dawn, some of the racers had started to return, and by the race cutoff at 9am, all of the teams were eating breakfast burritos and soaking in the sun (sleeping) in front of the HT lodge. The winner was a solo racer who completed the course in 9 hours and 26 minutes.

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If it sounds like a fun way to spend a Saturday, we are hosting the race again next year. Visit Rocky Mountain Adventure Seriesto learn more about the SWYD Multisport Challenge and about adventure racing in general. You can also visit the Rocky Mountain Adventure Series Facebook page to see even more photos from the 2020 Sleep When You Are Dead event at Sanborn Western Camps.

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Ariella Rogge
About Ariella Rogge

Ariella started her career at Sanborn when she was twelve. After five years of camper and five years of Sanborn staff experience, she continued her work with kids in the high school classroom. Ariella and her family returned to Sanborn in 2001 to take on the Program Director role which she held til 2012. She and Elizabeth Marable became co-directors of High Trails in 2013 and then Ariella became the High Trails Director in 2020. In the fall of 2022 she became the Director of Sanborn Western Camps, overseeing the director teams of both Big Spring and High Trails. She lists mountain golf, Gymkhana, climbing mountains and making Pad Thai in the backcountry as some of her favorite activities at camp. Ariella received a B.A. in English from Colorado College and is a certified secondary English educator,an ACCT Level 2 Ropes Course Technician, an ARC lifeguard and NREMT and WEMT. She lives in Florissant in the summer and in Green Mountain Falls during the school year so she can stay involved with the busy lives of her husband, Matt, and two teenage sons, Lairden and Karsten.