Shane Eversfield, a part-time New Paltz resident and an uber triathlete, is “going the distance” for Mohonk Preserve by participating in back-to-back, multisport events in September. On Sept. 10 and then again on Sept. 11, he will “gracefully endure” the American Zolfingen Long Course Duathlon (the AZ) and the Survivial of the Shawangunk triathlon (the SOS) — both which take place in and around the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park.
Not only is the goal exciting and daunting, but Eversfield has teamed up with the Mohonk Preserve to turn this challenge into a fundraiser for the 7,000-acre, not-for-profit Preserve.
The SOS stayed with me. I knew then that I wanted to do it again and do it back-to-back with the AZ.
“I’ve done the AZ Long Course Duathalon, and it was one of the most grueling races I’ve ever done,” said Eversfield, who is no lightweight when it comes to grueling races. The athlete’s competed in multi-sport events around the world, including the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
The AZ Long Course consists of a five-mile trail run that begins at Spring Farm trailhead at the Preserve, followed by an 84-mile road bike ride. It takes competitors up and over Route 44/55 past Minnewaska State Park and wraps around the Ridge, forcing cyclists to come up over Mountain Rest Road (by the Mohonk Mountain House gatehouse), only to hop off their bike and finish the duathlon with another trail run — this time a 15-mile run through the Preserve.
As if the AZ wasn’t enough to test the very limits of human endurance and mental-physical fortitude, Eversfield decided that he wanted to challenge himself to compete in the SOS the very next day.
He remembers that “12 years ago, when I was living and training in Hawaii, I read about the SOS in Triathlete Magazine. It was listed as one of the most ‘unique” triathlons in the world. I knew that I wanted to do that race.”
Years later he found himself working and training in New Paltz, and he set his sights on both the AZ and the SOS.
“I had always thought that it would be great to do them back to back,” he mused. “But since I had never competed in the SOS race and was not familiar with all of the areas in Minnewaska (two lakes competitors must swim across, as well as miles of intense trail running), I thought it would be wise to do the SOS first.”
He came, he competed and he fell in love with the race.
“I do a lot of races, and how I quantify them is not on how well I perform,” he said. “Some days are good some days not as good. How I think of them is how long that energy stays with me. How much I remember about it and carry it with me. The SOS stayed with me. It was one of the most beautiful courses, one of the greatest races and had the most incredible people running it, volunteering for it, competing in it. I knew then that I wanted to do it again and do it back-to-back with the AZ.”
When he went online to sign up for the SOS in October of 2010 (for the upcoming 2011 event) he was already “shut out.”
“The race was full,” he explained. “It takes 150 competitors and it was closed. I was so bummed.”
He called the veteran race director Don Davis and asked what he could do to get in. “Don is such an amazing person and a very altruistic guy. He told me that there were still ‘community slots’ available and I could take one of them.”
A community slot is something that, according to Eversfield, many world-class triathlons or popular multi-sport races offer. “They reserve a few slots that people have to pay for and that money is always used for some sort of charity. It’s a great way of giving back.”
For $1,000 Eversfield purchased a community slot, knowing it would be earmarked for the Mohonk Preserve’s Educational Outreach Program for under-privileged youth to experience all of the natural wonders the preserve offers.
He wanted to take it one step further. “I spoke with Gretchen Reed (the communications director at the Preserve) and we got the whole thing rolling. The idea was to try and raise more money for the Preserve as I took on this two-day multi-sport challenge. What could be better than to take my dream and have it benefit others.”
His fundraising goal, on top of the $1,000 he donated for the “community slot,” is another $2,000. As of the writing of this article, he was close to $1,500 above and beyond his slot fee.
“I think it becomes even more important to donate what we can to the Preserve, as they had so much damage due to Hurricane Irene,” he said.
Coming into its 26th year, the SOS is famous in triathlon circles for its breathtakingly beautiful course that is also enormously challenging. The race begins with a 30-mile bicycle ride from the Ulster County Fairgrounds to the top of the Shawangunk Ridge. Competitors then run a total of 18 miles along the mountaintop broken by more than two miles of open-water swimming through three lakes — Awosting, Minnewaska and Mohonk — with a final, uphill sprint to the base of the Mohonk Tower.
The race begins at 7 a.m. at the fairgrounds.
To learn more about the AZ, which offers four courses on one day — long, middle and shorter distance courses — go to https://www.cm2promotions.com/american-zofingen#!__american-zofingen.
To donate toward Eversfield’s race, contact the Preserve at 255-0919 or go to this link: https://thepreserve.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/MohonkPreserve2DayEpic/PersonalFundraiserSignupFundraising/tabid/290358/Default.aspx?joinme=7992. ++