For professional endurance athlete Robbie Balenger, deciding on his next big goal meant more than following in the literal footsteps of Colorado’s pantheon of famous runners.
In Gerry Roach’s classic book, “Colorado’s Fourteeners,” the author shares his thoughts about goals — and how climbers can think about them. In the book, Roach lays out the history of climbing fanatics who have summited all of the state’s 58 mountains over 14,000 feet — as fast as possible.
He mentions Teddy Kaiser, who held the speed record for 10 years with an “astonishing” time of 10 days, 20 hours until Andrew Hamilton broke that record in 2015 by a day.
“When setting your goals, remember one thing,” Roach wrote. “Records can be broken, but a victory is yours to keep forever.”
Robbie Balenger wanted to fulfill that sentiment by creating a challenge that no one had even considered. He calls the result The Colorado Crush, and it’s the subject of a new 40-minute film, which you can watch now.
What It Takes to ‘Crush’ Colorado
After moving to Colorado and feeling inspired by its possibilities, Balenger considered undertaking the loftiest goals for the state’s endurance sports: hiking the 485-mile Colorado Trail, summiting all 58 peaks over 14,000 feet, and running the Leadville Trail Series, which involves three separate races of 26 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles.
“And then it quickly was like, can those all be done in a summer? That was where it was born,” Balenger says in the video with a wide grin. “Can I crush Colorado? Like, can I?”
The answer, as you’ll find in the video, is yes: Robbie Balenger “crushed” the state in 63 days, establishing the namesake challenge in the process. The video tells the story of Balenger accomplishing in a single summer what many past athletes have spent years or decades completing.
Epic or crazy? You be the judge.
It’s an especially compelling story considering that Balenger is hardly a prodigal athlete. He “found running later in life,” he explains in the mini-documentary, starting just 7 years ago at the age of 29.
“So it’s quite an honor and an accomplishment to find myself as a professional athlete now,” Balenger says in the clip. “By following my passion of ultra-running, I just continue to up the ante for myself and grow as a human.”
Eventually, someone will come along and beat this record. But as Roach suggested in his book, Balenger will keep his own victory forever. As in, there will only ever be one to first conquer The Colorado Crush.