colorado fourteeners record
The view from the summit of Mt. Evans, where Andrea Sansone broke the overall record for the most Colorado 14ers in 24 hours; (photo/Tampa via Shutterstock)

New 24-Hour CO 14er Record: Andrea Sansone Tags 12 Peaks in Huge Effort

A mountain runner headed into the Colorado hills late Sunday night with a committed support crew, a sturdy training base, and a big goal.

On July 31, Andrea Sansone set out to break a coveted Colorado mountain running record — anxiously. The athlete’s challenge was to summit the most ever 14,000-foot peaks in the state in under 24 hours.

The mark stood at 11, and she and her partner Andrew Hamilton had built a plan to put her atop 12. Sansone had trained rigorously for the task, but according to Hamilton, she still felt plenty of nervous energy the day before she took it on.

“Andrea doesn’t like posting her attempts beforehand because I think she has a serious fear of failing,” Hamilton said on the running forum 14ers.com. “But I convinced her to let me do it because I’m totally confident she will do great and so that those of you who are interested can watch.”

Long story short, she did great. Sansone tagged one peak after another in a concerted effort that ended after she summited Mt. Evans (14,265 feet) early this morning. It was 8:01 a.m. local time, and Sansone had just completed 39 miles and a staggering 40,000 feet of elevation change to break the men’s and women’s records for the most “Fourteeners” in 24 hours.

And it only took her 22.

 

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As soon as she hit the mark 3,000 feet below the Mt. Evans summit, thus technically completing the challenge, 14ers.com erupted with congratulations. (In Colorado’s mountain running culture, the “3,000-foot” rule demands that athletes ascend and descend at least 3,000 feet on any peak or group of peaks.)

“Amazing accomplishment, Andrea! (and team for the support!) congratulations on your record — hope there is pizza in your future now,” two commented.

We hope that Sansone’s future did indeed deliver pizza (and/or salad, as another commenter suggested). She will no doubt need to recover from the massive achievement. So will Hamilton and the rest of her support crew.

12 14,000-Foot Mountains in 22 Hours

“Letter to Andrea: Please slow down; we need some sleep. Signed: Your support crew,” he posted at 1:02 a.m.

By then, Sansone had already broken the women’s record by securing her ninth summit: Grays Peak, 14,278 ft. Previously, the women’s record stood at eight. With a full 8 hours left to run, Sansone already looked like she’d easily break the overall record of 11.

She reportedly stayed in high spirits along the way despite occasional minor crises.

“[W]e got soaked coming down the road [between Buckskin Gulch and Mt. Democrat, 14,155 ft.] in the ATV, and I figured Andrea would be freezing, but she is staying so positive it’s awesome. She is in high spirits mainly because we were crushing our splits,” Hamilton reported.

“We did get into a little bit of an argument at Decalibron trailhead. Her phone was saying we were way too high even though we have the start point dialed in. So she made me back up like a half mile so she could start where her phone said 11,154 [feet]; however, once she hit start, her phone then said we were way too low. So we drove almost back to where we originally parked, and she started from there,” Hamilton wrote. “In the meantime, the rain calmed down, and a pretty rainbow appeared … so that was cool!”

An Impressive Logistical, and Physical, Feat

Route engineering is integral to the challenge of pursuing a 24-hour record. Because you can do it in almost any order, options abound. Drives generally occur in any supported speed record attempt, but they can’t eat up more time than they help save.

“It’s an interesting logistical challenge. Unless someone else thinks of something new, the core of this record is always going to be Lincoln [14,293 ft.], Democrat [14,155 ft.], and Bross [14,178 ft.], as you just can’t get three peaks for the price of one anywhere else. After that, you can get creative,” Hamilton explained.

His and Sansone’s plan ended up being so solid that they could have pushed the limit even further.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have had a 13-peak plan, but our spreadsheet was looking super tight. We weren’t sure 12 was possible,” Hamilton wrote.

It turns out it was. GearJunkie contacted Sansone and Hamilton hours after the superlative attempt in the early morning. Understandably, the line has remained quiet as of this writing.

Check out 14ers.com to catch up on the conversation and gawk at a spreadsheet user glenmiz built based on Sansone’s tracker info. If you look at it and think you can keep up, you’ve got more guts than we do.

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Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.