Levknecht’s big heart leads to UMC victory
Photo: Rick Lohre

Levknecht’s big heart leads to UMC victory


Posted by: Tommy

Champions are made of tough stuff. When others turn back, they continue on. At the GoPro Mountain Games GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge, women’s champion Adriene Levknecht persevered through 10 separate events to take the 2018 title and $2,500 first-place prize, and she did it by pushing on, never turning back, thereby collecting an incredible 42 total points for the win.

Levknecht celebrated her victory with a glorious howl, followed by words that only a UMC competitor could truly understand.

“My arms hurt. I’m dead tired, and I slept super-well last night,” Levknecht said, sounding surprisingly chipper for someone who had just completed a 4-day endurance test unlike any other.

In the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge, competitors choose their own adventure through the weekend’s four days of athletic events, racking up points based on finishes, placement, difficulty level, and a cross-discipline bonus. Levknect kayaked, biked, SUPed, ran and did yoga all weekend, stopping only to sleep or fuel up. (see women’s top-5 results breakdown HERE).

Emily Jackson tied for second with Courtney Kerin. Photo by Logan Robertson.

Competition was extremely tight in the event (see Men’s event recap HERE): Levknecht  was closely followed by Emily Jackson and Courtney Kerin, who tied for second place with 35 points each. Jackson competed in 11 events and Kerin in an incredible 13 events over four days to take home their prize packages. Nouria Newman took a slighly different approach, competing in fewer events but scoring very highly in each to take fourth place with 21 points. The event pays to fourth place (new this year), therefore Newman scored an extra $250. Caitlyn Ngam placed fifth with 20 points.

Inspired by memories

Levknecht had decided to compete in the event only recently, after talking to a GoPro Mountain Games staffer who encouraged her to participate. Levknecht and her husband, Snowy  Robertson, took on the “mental” challenge of the event over Memorial Day weekend, watching Harry Potter movies and planning out what was likely be the most athletically-challenging itinerary of her year.

“This sounds crazy, but I’m already looking forward to next year,” Levknecht said.

Aching and sore, it may sound surprising that the 12-year veteran of the Mountain Games is already stoked to give the event a shot again in 2019. But the event gave Levknecht a lot more than bumps, bruises, and prize money – it gave her and the thousands of fans who followed her something inspiring to watch, cheer for, and be a part of.

“It shows me that I’m stronger than I thought I was,” Levknecht said of her win. “It shows me that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I had so many people, particularly women, mothers of daughters, or that have kids, that were at the Mtn Games, that were saying that they were inspired by what I was doing.”

And Levknecht found inspiration of her own. Exhausted to the extreme, Levknecht was struggling during the notoriously demanding TIAA Bank XC Mountain Bike race. She crashed on the Mamba stretch, but soldiered on. She never gave in, never stopped pedaling, no matter how difficult it might have been, all of it inspired by a friend who she had lost in March.

“My really good friend, Maria Noakes, died in March,” Levknecht said. “Her ashes are in my necklace, and throughout the whole weekend anytime that I was hurting or that I felt like I needed to stop, I would just remember that she was there, and that definitely kept me going, for sure.”

Supported by Noakes, as well as her husband (who talked her through some emotional times via phone) and by the Stafford family of Fort Collins, CO, Levknecht kept going, and going, and going.

This held true even in the running portions of the event, where Levknecht has virtually zero experience, ahving never run even a 5K in her life.

“I don’t run. I have a 27-inch inseam. Running will never be my thing – but I actually had a great time running with Matt Lamb,” Levknecht said. “Surprisingly I felt really really good just finishing that 5K, and I felt strong.”

Levknecht and her sisters-in-arms showed incredible strength and endurance all through the weekend, showing that the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge is perhaps the most dynamic test of athletic skill, endurance, mental toughness, and perseverance anywhere in the world, and, just like it’s 2018 champion, it is entirely unique.

-Tom Boyd

 

2018 GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge WOMEN’s scoring breakdown

WOMEN (see MEN’s HERE)

Adriene Levknecht
Participant Bonus 5
Steep Creek/Dowd 6
Freestyle kayak 4
8Ball 6
Kayak sprint 2
XC Mtb 6
5K 4
Mud Run 1
Pepi’s Face 4
Citizen Climb 3
Yoga 1
Total 42

Emily Jackson
Participation bonus 3
Steep Creek/Dowd 6
Freestyle kayak 6
8Ball 4
Kayak sprint 2
Raft Sprint 1
SUP Cross 2
10K 3
5K 2
Mud Run 1
Pepi’s Face Off 4
Yoga 1
Total 35

Courtney Kerin
Participation Bonus 3
Steep Creek/Dowd 6
Freestyle Kayak 4
8Ball 4
Kayak Sprint 2
SUP Sprint 2
Raft Sprint 1
SUP Cross 2
Raft Cross 1
5K 2
Rocky Dog 2
Mud Run 1
Pepi’s Face Off 4
Yoga 1
Total 35

Nouria Newman
Participation Bonus 1
Steep Creek/Dowd 9
Freestyle kayak 4
8Ball 4
Kayak Sprint 3
Total 21

Caitlyn Ngam
Participant Bonus 4
8Ball 4
Kayak Sprint 1
Raft Sprint 1
Raft Cross 1
XC Mtb 4
5K 2
Rocky Dog 1
Mud Run 1
Yoga 1
Total 20

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