Imagine this: hiking up a mountain, riding the gondola down, and then hiking back up the mountain – and then doing it over and over again over the course of 36 hours. What’s the goal? To climb a staggering 29,029 vertical feet, equivalent to the height of Mount Everest. It’s a feat that tests not only your physical endurance but also your mental and spiritual strength. The 29029 event is not a race against others; it’s a battle against yourself.
Join us on The Sonya Looney Show as we explore this extraordinary challenge and the incredible individuals who make it all possible. From Marc Hodulich’s vision to Lindsay Wojciechowski’s determination, you may reconsider your own limits.
29029 is a Unique Community of Resilience
One of the most remarkable aspects of the 29029 event is the sense of community it fosters. I sat down with Marc Hodulich, one of the co-founders of 29029. He shared that it all began with a simple question he and his friend Jesse Itzler would routinely ask each other after long runs: “How many vertical feet did you gain?” This seemingly straightforward question planted the seed for a revolutionary concept.
Marc’s passion for endurance events, including accomplishments like The Leadville Trail 100 Run and Ironman Mt. Tremblant, ultimately led to the birth of 29029. This event series converges community, athletics, and philanthropy in an awe-inspiring way. It challenges participants to measure their workouts not by how far they’ve gone, but by how far up they’ve gone. It’s a shift in perspective that opens up new realms of personal growth.
Overcoming Doubts, One Foot at a Time
We were joined by Lindsay Wojciechowski, a family nurse practitioner with a deep passion for integrative medicine and nutrition. As a working mom and wife of a basketball coach, Lindsay knows the importance of finding balance in life. She shared her experience of participating in the first 29029 event and how she overcame moments of doubt and darkness by focusing on one step at a time.
The 29029 challenge isn’t just about conquering mountains; it’s about conquering yourself. It’s about discovering the grit, determination, and resilience that lie within, waiting to be unearthed. It’s about pushing beyond your comfort zones and celebrating even the smallest victories along the way.
Train Your Mind and Body for Resilience
Training for the 29029 event isn’t just about physical preparation; it’s about developing a mindset that can transform every facet of your life. It’s a journey that teaches commitment, patience, and the unshakeable belief that you can overcome any obstacle in your path.
The 29029 event represents a new category of challenge—one that’s equal parts physical, mental, and spiritual. It’s an opportunity to discover the heart and willpower that reside within you, waiting to be unleashed. It’s a chance to rewrite your limits and celebrate the amazing things your body and mind can achieve.
In 2024, the registration for 29029 opens on November 2nd at 12pm ET for locations including Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Whistler, and many more around the world. Will you be one of the brave souls ready to take on this monumental challenge?
Here are 29029’s key takeaways:
- Community Beyond Comparison: The 29029 endurance event is not just a physical challenge; it’s a community-building experience where participants come together to push their limits, support one another, and celebrate victories, fostering a sense of belonging that goes far beyond the mountains climbed.
- Mindset Matters: Training is as much about mental preparation as it is about physical fitness. Learn how this resilient mindset can be applied to all areas of life, helping individuals overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
- You vs. You: 29029 is not a competition against others; it’s a personal battle. The event challenges you to face yourself, confront doubts, and find the inner strength to keep moving forward. It’s a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
- Measuring Up: Analyzing workouts by vertical feet gained, rather than distance, is a game-changer. Find out how you can think differently about your fitness goals with a fresh perspective on progress and achievement.
- The Power of Inclusivity: Reaching Everest heights empowers people, and especially women, to step outside of their comfort zone and labels they put on themselves. Plus, 29029 aims to remain inclusive by using hiking as a shared, accessible activity.
Listen to this episode about 29029
If you found today’s episode enlightening and want to hear more, make sure to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Share this episode with friends and family who are curious about endurance sports or considering making a change in their health journey.
- Learn more and register for this Everest challenge
- Dive deeper into Marc & Lindsay‘s stories
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- Want more? Listen to this episode about Rob Lea and his Ultimate World Triathalon
- The story of 29029. 0:02
- Endurance events and community transformation. 6:54
- Mental and physical preparation for a 30-hour endurance event. 12:47
- Overcoming fear and doubts during a challenging athletic event. 17:43
- Finding inner strength and grit through a challenging mountain climb. 23:16
- Empowering women to overcome limiting beliefs and achieve their goals. 31:51
- The power of conversation, personal growth and connection. 44:01
Sonya Looney 0:02
Mark and Lindsey, welcome to the show.
Marc Hodulich 0:05
Thanks for having me.
Sonya Looney 0:06
Well, we were already bringing the energy before we hit record, and it is already so clear how much passion you both have for 29029. And how important that community is. To start, Mark, I want to ask you, what is 29029?
Marc Hodulich 0:21
You know, I get asked that question a lot. My wife always laughs because I think you’d give a different answer every time. But I’ve settled on it into the day that it’s just story for people in itself. I think we’re all looking for something to talk to others about that’s interesting and 29029 give you something not only for while you’re training for it and doing it, but after years, you know, it’s it’s, it’s the story you’re telling. But it’s a story that’s been shaped by the other 250 people that you’re on the mountain with, because it’s not a singular experience. So I think it’s a story that’s created as part of a much bigger community that’s doing the event with you. Now, said that, specifically, what we do is, you know, we rent private ski resorts from Whistler to Jackson Hole to Sun Valley, and you climb the mountain, take a gondola down and repeat over 36 hours with the ultimate goal of hiking 29029 feet, which is the equivalent height of Mount Everest.
Sonya Looney 1:16
And why why Mount Everest? And why does it why these events Why not like something different?
Marc Hodulich 1:23
Sure, you know, I mean, I’ve done a lot of endurance events in my life. And a lot of things that I did were were very intimidating to me. But people in my network couldn’t even imagine doing it because they don’t swim or they don’t bike so triathlon was out. Or they don’t run long distances, or their knees were beat up and they couldn’t do the downhill. We’re uphill hiking is just approachable. It’s doable for long periods of time, and you remove the downhill, I think it becomes approachable to a big demographic. And then what better stories or than Everest, right? I think everyone uses Everest as a marker for the pinnacle of the highest point on Earth. And so there’s a national marketing and storytelling angle there. And then looking in full candor, when I was looking at doing different events, I had friends who were getting on their bike and ever seen on their bike. And it was a solo pursuit that cyclists were doing. And for me, it was like, well, that’s interesting. I wonder if you could do this on foot. And so it was really commercializing a rather nice concept that people were doing on their own. The Elite cyclists kind of around the world we’re doing as a solo singular test.
Sonya Looney 2:29
Yeah, I remember hearing about this, because I follow Jesse Itzler pretty closely, since the living with the seal book. And also Colin Brady’s been on the podcast. So I’ve kept hearing about this. And one of my another guests that came on last year, like right before we recorded, she said, Yeah, I’m doing this event in Sun Valley. And so I keep hearing about it from different people going different events.
Marc Hodulich 2:51
No, it’s great. I mean, look, Colin and Jesse have been great partners. We started off together in 2017, we sold the business and since bought it back, you know, we love it. I’ve always stayed connected him in the CEO since the beginning, even when we were owned by I fit, who owns Nordic track, and it’s just been a great ride. And they’re great partners, and we’ve thrown in a great community. And I think all the events are small. Community super strong. And so it’s not surprising that there’s an overlap of good people, knowing good people who’ve done the event.
Sonya Looney 3:21
I heard you say something in one of your other podcasts that you recorded talking about this. And you said that growth happens when no one is looking? Can you talk about that a little bit?
Marc Hodulich 3:31
Yeah, I experienced that myself this past weekend at Sun Valley. You know, I think we find out who we really are, when things get really tough, right? It’s, it’s easy to be patient, it’s easy to be happy, it’s easy to have a smile on your face, when things are going well. It’s much harder to do that when you’re not feeling good physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever that may be. And there are moments that take place over no matter how long it takes you, you know, this is not a race. So we don’t know really track who the first Finisher is or how much time that takes, but you’re not gonna be finishing cement in less than 18 hours. And for me maybe takes 24 or 26 hours, it’s a long duration. And there’s many times you’re gonna be faced with wanting to stop, go to sleep, take a break. And you’re really going to grow when you find a way to lean in during those moments and test yourself. And that doesn’t mean seeing how high you can get your heart rate how fast you can do a lot. But it may mean being present for someone else and cheering someone else up when you’re not feeling well for me. Thank you and our volunteers are really focusing outward, not inward as much. And I think that you find a lot of growth when you’re able to wake up the next day and maybe feel a lot better and say wow, like I’m proud of myself for how I was when it was really tough. And everyone else went to sleep. I stayed out there. That’s really when I think the growth happens is during those moments where it’d be easy to quit on yourself, but you don’t.
Sonya Looney 4:51
Yeah, and I think that that’s why people like doing things like an Ironman like I know you’ve done or run marathons on something that’s really unique about 29029 unite is that you get to be out in the forest and something about Iron Man or a marathon like you’re, you’re on the road a lot, and you’re not getting to connect with nature in the same way. So, you know, what, what component Do you think the art of being in nature has in this event?
Marc Hodulich 5:15
You know, it’s a great observation. Initially, it wasn’t a thoughtful part of the formula. And I have a friend named Bart Foster, who’s a very talented individual who quotes and says nature is our silent partner. And nature is a huge silent partner in this event, I can tell you, it was around 1130, Friday night, I was pretty fatigued, it suddenly go down to about 1015 in Sun Valley. And it was the first hike I did were the stars on full display. And that hike was honestly the most enjoyable because all I did was look at all the stars, and I don’t get to see as much because you know, I live in suburban Atlanta, and you know, you have light pollution. And I think, you know, that kind of thing. adds so much more to the event. Most people never hiked at night, you know, I was hiking with a woman who just say, look, I grew up, my father told me I couldn’t be out, I couldn’t run at night, I couldn’t exercise at night, as a female, it wasn’t safe, and to be in an environment where I feel safe. And I can do that is incredibly empowering. So I think, you know, we’re giving people new experiences, and they’re experiencing nature in a big way. And a large part of this event is that kind of adventure travel aspect. There’s a lot of people from the Midwest, there’s a lot of people from the southeast and the Northeast that haven’t been out west before. They’re not skiers, they’ve never been out West during the summer. And so that’s a really big component of the event is being in nature. But again, not being in such an intimidating fashion. As you know, when I did Leadville, you could have 50 miles between eight stations, and you’re by yourself. Here, you’re always with people, and you’re just out of reach of, you know, eight stations, medical support, things like that. So it’s definitely you’re in the comments, but within a contained environment as well.
Sonya Looney 6:54
Yeah, and the lowering the barrier to entry is so important. Like I love I’m an A an ultra endurance mountain biker, I do stage races and 24 hour races, and 100 miler is like all over the world. And that attracts such a really interesting community of people. But not everybody wants to ride a bike and not everybody wants to ride a bike for a long period of time. Not everybody even wants to run. So I love how you have created something that is so interesting for people where the they can sign up and do it and they feel safe doing it and all you need to be able to do is walk.
Marc Hodulich 7:24
Well, Lindsey is a testament to that, because she signed up in 2017. And we didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
Sonya Looney 7:31
Yeah, yeah, I’m really looking forward to hearing all about Lindsay’s experience and and how you’ve transformed Lindsay through this. I have an another question for you, though, before we kind of transition chatting with Lindsay, what is the structure of one of these events? Because I’ve actually spent time on the website, I’ve looked on YouTube and you know, looked at some people’s experiences, but for the person listening, this sounds really cool. But can you paint a picture for us it’s more detailed of what people might experience and see.
Marc Hodulich 7:57
Sure, I guess I would just say first off is that most of that it’s you think of actually your time on site. I think 29029 has differentiated ourselves very much from the beginning from when you sign up, you’re joining a community, a private network. So we have, you know, kind of our own private social community, where we have a moderator we have group coaching calls. We have our founders come in and talk with experts come in and teach you about nutrition and hydration. So a big part of it is the journey getting ready for the event. There’s a five month training program that has evolved a lot. I don’t even know if Lindsay got a training program, but she signed up in 2017. Yeah, so we’ve evolved a lot in that aspect and then looked at arrivals on Thursday we have speakers or coaches are there we have an amazing coaching staff typically at five to six coaches per event. Live our head coach Brett peace, and you know, it’s it’s we eat communal meals together. And there were a lot of things that we did thoughtfully from the beginning that may have looked crazy to the outsider. So it’s participant only at meals. So Lindsay may come with her husband and her husband’s like, wait, I can’t eat with my wife. And the reason is, you’re sharing this experience, you want to actually be present and meet those that you’re hiking with. So it’s a thoughtfulness behind it. So you know, we participant only meals together. And then the event starts at 6am. Friday, and you have 36 hours to hike the mountain to take the gondola down from 6am, Friday to 6pm Saturday. And what’s really unique about the event is itself score. There’s no chip timing, there is no digital format, we take our logo, which is which is here for those that are able to see this as a triangle logo and its own custom candle brands and you burn each ascent into a wooden board. And funnily enough, when Lindsey did hers in 2017, we went for Donnelly, you went from left to right for 17 cents now we actually climbed the board and go up mix a little bit more sense for an event that’s vertical. And I think it just it just brings you to be much more present. Right? You’re not relying on technology. It’s it’s on an honor system. And I think it really is the ethos of the event that we’re all in this together and we’re going to keep keep score ourselves. And really it’s a it’s a religion. Truly you versus you test. And then we finish Saturday night with an award ceremony. We play a film at the end of the event. And Sunday morning, we have a brunch where we get together and and then depart on Sunday.
Sonya Looney 10:13
Yeah, that sounds like such a fun time. And I know that from events I’ve done that have really wanted to build a community that having the meals together piece is such an important part of it, because that’s whenever these conversations come out that you might not have otherwise. And then the camaraderie out there whenever you’re doing something hard among other people and being able to share that common humanity piece goes so far.
Marc Hodulich 10:37
Yeah, I mean, look, we’ve we certainly have adjusted that to where Saturday night’s party, you know, spouses and family are welcome. We encourage them to be volunteers throughout the weekend, you know, we want family to be a big part of this, it’s just those meals directly before the event and within the participant lodge during the event is really just meant to foster that community. Because those are the people are going to best understand what you’re going through. And those of the bonds are going to last when you leave the mountain. So we definitely want to make sure we’re given an environment to encourage that as much as possible.
Sonya Looney 11:08
Where did this cattle branding idea come from?
Marc Hodulich 11:12
You know, one of my partner’s team members from the very beginning had attended a wedding where they did something similar for the bride and groom. And we’re just going through every idea possible to just differentiate ourselves whether it was carrying rocks up to the summit and filling something up. Whether it was little medallions that you got and hung up on a board and find was like, you know, I’ve I’ve seen like a custom calibrated the bride and groom were like, giving away gifts at the wedding from I wonder if we could do something there. And, you know, it’s taken a decent amount of iterations, we’re now kind of building our own brands and things like that, because we’re putting them through such use. But it’s really worked out quite well.
Sonya Looney 11:53
Yeah, the visual representation of your progress is super cool. Thank you. Yeah,
Marc Hodulich 11:58
we’re still striving to to get it perfect. But maybe that’s why we continue to improve as we’re not willing to settle.
Sonya Looney 12:06
Something I wanted to ask you. You said you’re doing all six of them this year, and you’ve done how many have you done to date? Do you remember? So? They’re all memorable? Does it get easier each time you do it?
Marc Hodulich 12:19
No, not at all. It depends. On a lot of factors, I think the thing is, is that it’s just never easy to climb 29,029 vertical feet. One. And like you mentioned, one of my partners, Colin Embree, he’s one of one two people ever pull a sled across Antarctica self support, right? 60 plus days, 400 pound sled. And we’ve been together many events one or 2am. And it’s hard, like you want to go to sleep, you’re tired, your feet hurt. Funny enough, he gets cold quite easily, right. So I can speak for him and say for guidance been in negative 80 degree temperature and Antarctica like he gets cold in Vermont. So it doesn’t get easier. Where I can tell you is you know what to expect. And I think that becomes easier. And that each time it gets hard, you know, you’re gonna get through it. You know, I’m going to Leadville once, but when things got hard, I didn’t know if I was going to finish, I knew I was well trained. And it was mentally tough enough. But I just didn’t know how my body would react, I know my body can find 29,029 feet, I know what I’m going to feel afterwards for the most part. So but I do think you you have to have a very healthy respect for the mountain and the elements and what it takes to get through the event, you have to eat a lot, you have to hydrate a lot, you have to be mindful of having the right balance between sodium and water, right things can go wrong in the body if you’re if you’re really not watching what you’re doing. And I think that’s where it never gets easy as you really do have to be focused on the task at hand, no matter who you are. It’s it’s not the type of thing you can just kind of smile and grin your way through. I mean, no disrespect to anyone who’s done a marathon and train for a marathon. It’s a wonderful achievement. But you can screw up a lot of things and still finish the marathon things in a 30 hour event and things go off the rails pretty quickly. So I think you just you really have to be present and mindful what you’re doing to make sure you finish.
Sonya Looney 14:16
So Lindsey, I want to switch over to you for a little bit here. So it sounds like you did one of the first events. Is that right?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 14:23
I did the first event. Yeah. Wow.
Sonya Looney 14:25
So like, how did you hear about this and what made you want to do it?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 14:30
I heard about it. Well, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. And that was probably a blessing and probably part of the reason why I need to do it. My husband and I have gotten to know Jesse through our years with Duke University and we found ourselves that Jesse’s hell on the Hill that he has it as home every summer. That year actually, my husband had been invited for the first time to do hell on the hill. My husband’s been a athlete in basketball for a long time. And so he was the one invited to hell on the hill. And I, this is all longer answer to your question. But we were my kids and I went to go support him. And Jesse was very kind and said, Hey, Lindsay, if you want to, you know, get a good workout and go up and down and see if you can do it, it’s 100 Times up and down the hill in his backyard. And I was looking around at the people that were there. And I was like, I am so out of place. I’m a mom. I mean, I never felt more like a mom, I was like, all these people are so incredibly athletic. And they’ve got such incredible resumes with with their athletic careers. And that I started going up and down and I got through 10, I got through 20, I got through 30, I got through 40, I got through 50, I got going. And it was about halfway through that I looked around, and I had this moment and I thought, oh my gosh, like I’m not only I’m not the first one, there’s a lot of people ahead of me, but I’m certainly not the last one. And I let my husband kind of finished with it. But at the end of the night, Jesse was mentioning this new 29029 idea that had just been birthed. And he sort of sold it as this like, camping meets hiking kind of thing. And I thought, well, I like both of those things. So maybe I could do this. And there was this new idea in my mind that maybe I could keep up a little bit more than I thought that I could. And I went ahead and signed up. And I think I signed up three weeks before the event.
Sonya Looney 16:20
Wow. So you didn’t get the I guess as Mark said, You didn’t get the training plan or the calls or any of that stuff.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 16:27
I think there may have been some of that. But I think I was so overwhelmed and slightly fearful of what I signed up for that I thought maybe if I just went in blind.
Sonya Looney 16:38
So I wanted to dig a little bit deeper on something you just said, you said that you thought I don’t know the exact words you use, but like you believe that you thought you could do it. Like I thought I could do it. So I was gonna sign up? Where did that thought come from that I think I can do this. Because I think there’s a lot of times when people see something that they want to do. And they think wow, that looks really cool. But I don’t think I can actually do that.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 16:57
I would have definitely not thought that I could do it. And I went into it with a lot of fear and doubt I have never in my life labeled or identified myself as an athlete. So I went into it with a lot of fear and uncertainty. I think it was that experience that held on the hill just a few weeks prior where I looked around and realized I certainly wasn’t the last one. I potentially could keep up and that idea was sort of born there that weekend for me. And that ignited something in me that felt exciting. I mean, I was in my early 40s when that happened. And that’s just not a box I’ve ever checked for myself before. And I was just I didn’t know I could do it at all. But there was a curiosity there. That was exciting to me.
Sonya Looney 17:45
Yes, you had enough courage to pursue that curiosity. And you said, Yeah, you had never labeled yourself as an athlete, but kind of Jesse saying, hey, try this thing. And then that made you believe that maybe you are capable of more? Yes. So I think that this is a really interesting comment. He said, I didn’t I never labeled myself as an athlete. And there’s a lot of people out there that don’t that don’t use that label, even though they are athletes. So to you what does that label of an athlete mean? Well, I wasn’t sure.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 18:13
I mean, I’ve been married to a basketball coach for 15 years, I grew up in an athletic family where everybody did really well, you know, in what they pursued. I just never partook in any of that. And through my husband, we’ve met so many people who have excelled in athletics at the very highest level. So that’s sort of been my definition of being an athlete. Yeah, that
Sonya Looney 18:35
comparison piece of I’m comparing myself up whenever you want to call yourself something or to do something. And even it sounds like the comparison piece was actually helpful for you on hell hill, where you where you said, Well, I’m not the last person out here. So I guess I can do more. Yeah, I was hopeful that I could. So you signed up for the event, you said, You’ve you felt a lot of fear and doubt in yourself. What did you do whenever those feelings came up a fear and doubt during the event, leading up to the event and during the event?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 19:07
Well, leading up to the event, one of the things I’ve learned about myself in the last 10 years is that the best part of me tends to come out when there’s that perfect mix of excitement and fear. And I liked that side of me and the more I put myself in these positions, the more I learned to like that side of me. I got excited. I was spending a lot of time training during this. Three weeks, I had three weeks I had to go hard. And so I think I went into it with a healthy level of excitement and fear going into it. I was very excited. But I had a lot of dark moments during the experience. But as Mark has alluded to, those are some of the moments I’m the most proud of.
Sonya Looney 19:54
Yeah, the dark moments. I think that a lot of times people are afraid of having a dark moment and they think that a dark moment and means that something is wrong, when really having that dark moment and sitting in it and possibly overcoming it is what makes you who you are in a lot of ways.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 20:10
Yes, I had some really good examples of that on the hill or on the mountain, that I look back on all of those moments very fondly.
Sonya Looney 20:18
So I’d love to have you walk us through what the experience was like. I know that it was it was a few years ago, and it can be hard to remember all the details. At least I know it is for me. So okay, lap one like how you said there was 17 laps. Is that right?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 20:32
Yes. Oh, and I remember, I don’t remember what I did last week. But I remember this event, like it was yesterday.
Sonya Looney 20:38
Oh, that’s awesome. That’s like, so huge, like a huge pivot point in life when you remember something in that much detail?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 20:45
Yeah, no, I remember lap one. So clearly, there’s this girl, Megan, who I’ve gotten to know through Jesse and hell on the hill. She’s an amazing athlete. And she and I had become friends. And she was signed up for it as well. And she was so supportive and so excited. And I’m so grateful. She said, let’s do the first lap together. And, you know, I’ll slow it down for you because she was gonna go at a faster speed. And she talked the whole way up and was telling me stories. And in my head, I was just thinking, I’m screwed. The first hill up, it was this mix of just panic, I got to the top one I was I had sweat through everything that I was wearing, AF out of exhaustion, and half out of just sheer fear like this is so I am in so much trouble. So I remember the first one very clearly. And then I remember, you know, the structure was a little bit different on that particular event that I remember my goal had been to get through six climbs by the end of the first night. And after four of those climbs, I went down to go change my clothes and get a quick bite to eat. And I had gotten dark. And I went into the lobby, and I took a minute to call my husband and my kids and I just broke down sobbing in the corner. And I said, I have no business being here. This is so harder, so much harder than I thought. There’s no way that I can do this. And I I had two more to go that night. And the mountain was windy and it was cold and it was dark. And I was scared to go up by myself. And I just it was a real low moment. And I ran into Jesse on the way out and Jesse could probably see the fear in my eyes. And he said, You know, I want you to I’ve heard Jesse say this before, but I want you to really not focus on tomorrow, not focus on climb six, you are chipping away one small chip at a time. And that was my mantra for the next two climbs that got me through the night. And I stayed up a lot longer than other people did that night. And those two climbs alone in the dark at the with the wind at the top. I was really incredibly proud of myself that night, when I finally did down to get a little bit of rest.
Sonya Looney 22:53
That’s so incredible when you break it down into one foot in front of the other because like you said, it’s so easy to get fixated on, oh, I have this far to go or this just happened, you know, on the last on the last lap that I did. And it was so hard. And I don’t think I can continue. Can you can you say more specifically how one step at a time helped you make more and more steps and get through that night?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 23:16
Yeah, I just focused on where I was right in the moment. You know, there’s not a lot of times that I think it’s fair to say women in particular moms, there’s not a lot of times that you have to just sit or to not sit, but to just focus on one thing. And my job that night was just simply that to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. And I made it through that night. And the next day was very similar to that it was a long grind. I think it was like a 12 hour grind. And that day is a bit of a blur. There were a lot of climbs a lot of incredible people that you end up talking to you along the way because you’re all kind of grinding through it together. One thing stands out in my mind for that Saturday. Well, two things in particular, there was an interview that came to mind. You know, I had all these podcasts and podcasts music that I had downloaded to like listen to during this experience. I didn’t listen to any of it. It was just me the mountain the entire time. And about halfway through that first day, I remembered a podcast that I’d listened to years back with Sara Blakely. It wasn’t a podcast scuze me it was an interview and somebody had asked her, you know, she’s had a tremendous amount of success on her life. Why you? And her answer to that question was so simple. And she looked right back at them and said, Why not me? And that came to mind about halfway through that second day. And it was so it really resonated with me and I thought okay, I’ve never checked this bucket of being an athlete. I’ve never checked this bucket of really having a lot of grit and showing myself if I had that, and why can’t I why Not why not now? Why can’t that be me? And so that was sort of my mantra through that second day.
Sonya Looney 25:06
Yeah, that’s so powerful. And the things that you learn when you’re doing hard things like this translate in your life. And that’s why I think these these events are so sticky. So that why not me mentality? How have you applied that in your life since then?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 25:20
Well, I think about it all the time. I mean, you know, one of the things that I will say about the 29029 experience for me in particular was, you know, I had, I had a big why. And my why was, you know, I look around with envy at all these other people who’ve had a lot of athletic success, I have had my own career and another avenue. But I wanted to know if I had that grit. And I wanted to know if I had what it took when I really dug deep to do that. And I was able to prove to myself that I did in fact, have that. And that was such a big why for me, and even though I’m not on 290 29, and I’m not doing it every, you know, event now, I at least know that I have it. And I don’t doubt that part of myself.
Sonya Looney 26:05
Now, once you know that you have that it’s always in there. Exactly. Mark, I wanted to hear about some of the other why’s that people have had for signing up for this event. I mean, you have so many stories on the website, and I’m sure that you’ve come across a ton of different reasons why people would do this.
Marc Hodulich 26:22
Sure. Not to be the politician and not answer the question, I want to comment on something Lindsay said about, like finding out if she had it in her, I think I see so much of my wife in Lindsay of like, taking care of me taking care of our kids, she’s taking care of the family, and you have it in you, you’re doing something almost harder every single day. And what I’m so proud of 29029 Is it just shines a different light on the women in our lives and lets them be the hero in a more public way. Right. And I think that’s, um, I get emotional talking about because I think it’s something that is overlooked by too many events, right? I felt really guilty when I did an Ironman because my wife did so much sacrifice. And like, she said to me, I’m so proud of you. But you can’t do another one. She’s never told me no to anything. She just said you can’t do another one. It was too hard on the family. And so then you need to do 29029 Like you need this for yourself. So see my wife grew. And in 2018, she was inspired a lot by Lindsey. And so she did it in 2018. And, you know, I think we made a shift as a company. We mean saying hey, to my bars, I want to focus more on women I want this needs to be majority women, which were about 52% women, for male participants, for nothing else, and I just think that it provides an environment where I wanted to be more welcoming, and allow more women to be able to share that story. Specifically in terms of what people’s why’s you know, I just met a woman on the mountain this last year. So she found out about since 2018. On Instagram, she lost 166 pounds, and just wanted to prove to herself that she could climb a mountain once right and she did six laps the first day. And put that in perspective. I think people lose sight of the fact of climbing 2000 feet is a hell of a day for a hike. Doing that six times in a day is ridiculous. So and then waking up and repeating that the next day. We’ve had people on our loved ones, right we’ve had people celebrate huge birthdays, 50th 60th Birthdays, I met a gentleman who’s CEO of a Fortune 100 company, who has done over 100 endurance events in his life. And he did it with his two sons this past weekend. He told his wife, he’s 16 years old. This is my last event. Right? He wanted us to close out a chapter of having done Ironman Kona. He’s climbed to six to the Seven Summits. He’s climbed every mountain but Everest right? And so this is my last event, but I’m going to do it with my two sons and my two nephews. So I had seen family celebrate milestones together is really cool. Because you know, you can talk a lot on a bike ride, you can’t talk while swimming. It’s hard to carry on much of a conversation when you’re running fast. I mean, the events I’m pretty unsexy, but it’s just walking up a hill, right? And it’s doing it for a very long time. And certain sections of the mountain are very steep but seeing the families share their wives together and celebrating milestones. I know some friends this year that are celebrating you know, high school graduations and this is a gift to a son or daughter and to do it together and to create that family experience is certainly really cool. So yeah, I mean, the honoring of loved ones the overcoming a cancer or disease has has been, you know, constant. And I think for a lot of people, it’s just to just try something new. Right? say look, I’ve never done this. I heard you say numerous times I’m not an athlete. I ran College Track in Auburn. I was not a great college athlete. If we were to call myself An athlete but I didn’t refer to myself as an athlete. I was like, well, this sprinters in the jumpers, they’re athletes, I just run long distance, right? So I never even thought of myself as an athlete. And I think this is an opportunity to define yourself as an endurance athlete, right where it’s the barrier to entry is so high. For so many races, they’re the hardest or the toughest. They’re at the highest altitude, the the lowest finisher rate, like almost everything the ultra endurance community is geared towards, how can we stand out more by being the hardest or being the most difficult, the most brutal conditions? The hottest, right, you know, the first is desert trek, whatever it is, and I wants to be the most inclusive, right? Like, this is the place where like, it’s okay to be scared and not know what the hell you’re doing. Right. And in fairness to Lindsey, as a as an event production team, Jesse, and I colonist partners, you’re one. We didn’t know what we were doing with this format. It was truly the first time we had done it. So for her to succeed in year one Where’s not as dialed, it wasn’t as supported. The hours were really tough. Like, I want to be really fair to her and say, like, we started this event at two o’clock on a Friday. Like, we’ll travel that day. You know, I knew traders and hedge funds who like work that morning on the trading desk, Nick Morris, shout out to you and Adam Hi sick. And they drove in. And then did an event like you would never come the morning of a marathon like you would come in the night or two nights before. And the way it was broken up in the structure and us trying to figure out was this part Music Festival, part farm to table dining and part endurance event? And we very quickly realized like, this is all about the challenge. Right. But Lindsey did it under super hard circumstances because we had not yet perfected the format to allow people to have the best chance at finishing as well.
Sonya Looney 31:51
And then Lindsey from my, from my understanding your husband did it a few years later. Is that right?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 31:57
He did. He did it in Utah.
Marc Hodulich 32:00
Novation. 2021. Right. I
Lindsay Wojciechowski 32:02
think so. Yeah. He had a wonderful experience.
Sonya Looney 32:06
Yeah. And I’m sure you inspired him like him watching you do it.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 32:10
You know, it’s funny that way? Yeah, I think maybe. So I even have friends. We’re living in Park City, Utah now. And I have a few friends from Park City who have been inspired by it as well. And they’re going to be at Snowbasin in August. And I’ve had friends from Milwaukee that signed up and went and I think people really get intrigued by the idea. And they also especially friends of mine, moms, who are busy with their kids lives, get really intrigued and curious about the idea of something that’s just for you. And an opportunity to really step out of your comfort zone and see if you’ve got it at this time in our lives, which you know, is a time when we’re sort of taking care of everybody else and not doing as much for ourselves.
Sonya Looney 32:57
Yeah, yeah. And that vicarious experience piece, like you said, like Mark said, his wife was inspired to do it, because she saw you and your friends are inspired to do it because they see you. And I don’t know if there’s a gender piece of this. But whenever we see somebody else do something, and we see ourselves in that person, then we believe that we can do that too. And I think that the way that 29029 shares all the stories of people who are doing this is empowering people to reach for more and their lives. And I don’t think there’s anything better than that.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 33:27
I would agree. Yeah, I’m really excited for the friends who are doing it this August. And I’m just, I know the feeling, and I’m excited for them.
Sonya Looney 33:36
Yeah. So something that you said, it’s a little bit off topic. But you said, I never felt more like a mom when I was watching people doing Hill Hill. And that kind of struck me because I did this documentary that still touring at film festivals about the challenge of adding motherhood as an identity to yourself and how for me, I wasn’t sure if I could become a mom, because I was already a professional athlete. And could I still be an athlete? Could I still be somebody that goes after things when I become a mom? And it sounds like you came at it from the other side like you were a mom, and then you realize, hey, I can do more. So can you can you talk about like, what it means to feel like a mom now after doing this event?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 34:18
Yeah, it feels great. You know what, it’s fun for my kids to have witnessed me go through that they weren’t there directly, but to just see me in the aftermath of that. Yeah, no, it’s it’s super tricky. And especially I can’t I must have been 40 When I did it 41. You know, I, that almost felt like too late of a time in my life to try to identify as an athlete so to to be able to claim that at a later point in my life was really exciting. And it is really hard to do both and that’s why I think this opportunity is so unique because it really allows women to step outside of their norm and to be able to, you know, clean this up. opportunity in this experience for themselves.
Sonya Looney 35:02
Yeah, there’s, there’s a lot of limiting beliefs that we put on ourselves. And as you said, women tend to put everybody else first before themselves. And something that I’m really curious about is how to continue to empower women to overcome these limiting beliefs to step out step over these barriers that oftentimes we put on ourselves to do more in our lives, whether it is doing 29029, or doing something more. Is there anything that comes to mind to help women overcome these barriers and labels that they put on themselves?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 35:32
Yeah, I think it’s by experience, you know, and I think it’s by taking a chance and throwing yourself in experiences that you may or may not be able to do. But putting yourself in situations that are that mix of fear and excitement, that allow you the opportunity to prove it to yourself, it’s really hard to do on a day to day basis, especially when you get through your day and your work and your to do list and your kids stuff and things come up. It’s really hard to find experiences like this, and 29029 is so unique. And I I think it felt like a big leap for me, I may have been too afraid to sign up for it had I not had that held on the Hill experience prior. But I’m incredibly grateful that I took the leap of faith and did it. And you know, I know a lot of people who’ve signed up and completed 12 or 13 of the laps and not quite gotten to the to the final piece of the event. But they’ve still left feeling incredibly accomplished and knowing that they really push themselves out of their comfort zone. And, you know, they were really proud of themselves for taking the chance.
Sonya Looney 36:41
Now, thanks for pointing out that just just because you don’t do all the laps doesn’t mean that you failed, you still won by doing that. And Mark, you mentioned that to like the the lady that signed up her goal was to do one and she did more than one. And a lot of times I think that we will look at something like I have to do the entire thing. Otherwise, it doesn’t count. But it definitely counts. It counts to get the best out of yourself, whatever that looks like.
Marc Hodulich 37:02
Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up. And then we do a lot of things different. And I’ll never forget, you know, you’re one, you know, Jesse’s my partner but I’m, I’m the CEO, it’s my show to put on he comes to me, he’s like, Hey, as we give remarks tonight, I’m gonna say a few words, just he’s gonna say a few words. And he’s like, you know, I think we need to recognize, you know, the highest of the seven summits that everyone climbed. And you know, it’s kind of on the fly, like getting ready for a speech kind of thinking like, Hey, if you get four, that’s the height of cause Yesco, which is the highest mountain in Australia, if you did seven, that’s the height of Vinson, right. And you’re going through the different of the Seven Summits and then became an integral part to our event. at every location, you get a medal for the highest of the seven summits that you climb. And your the people that are most impressive to me, are not the ones that leave wearing the red hat, right, we can wear red hat for those that do all 29,000 When I feel it, so those that realized on Friday, I have no chance at Red Hat. But don’t quit. And you know, that doesn’t happen in 100 miler, like if you miss a time cut off, you’re pulled off course you don’t get to keep running. And you know, it was demoralizing when I ran Leadville for some of the guys I train with to get pulled off at my 40 or 60, they were physically able to keep going. But the race doesn’t allow you to hear the time could say you can’t do 15 laps in Sun Valley or eight in West or whatever it is. But to know that your ultimate goal is unreachable and to be able to keep climbing, like that’s where growth happens. Right? You face disappointment. Maybe it was hard you thought it was maybe you had something go wrong. But yet you continue to push through. And I I hope that those people are as proud of themselves as I am when they leave them out. Because I certainly know when I was out there Friday night, and I was going up and my goal Friday was to get in 13 and a 15 laps. And you know, I would do with people’s I’m going to my 13th lap and like I’m on five or six, there’s so many people that have already gone to bed and I’m like you’re still out here climbing when clearly, you know that you’re not going to get 29,029 feet and that I want this to be an environment where people get to see that growth and get to be proud of themselves. I think that that’s one of the things that I take away so many times is how few times, you know, we actually sit back and we’re like, Well, I’m proud of something that I just did or that I’m currently doing. You know, in those moments when Lindsey was talking about hiking at night in Vermont and when the when there is brutal and it’s super cold and it’s dark. And even though it’s just on us on the mountain like it is lonely. And to be proud of yourself for just continuing to be out there and being in the environment is something that it does take you to be really present to even recognize because you probably don’t recognize how proud of you are for getting all of your kids to practice on time with their water bottle and all their gear. It’s just what you do every day. But that’s really damn hard. You probably don’t take a moment to think like oh, I’m proud that I was there and I got everyone there everyone They needed but these are those moments were like, because there’s not the distractions of the rest of the family and you have an opportunity to be so present and be like, Wow, I, I’m doing this for myself, and I’m proud of what I’m doing.
Sonya Looney 40:12
Yeah, celebrating wins, no matter how small is so important. And we’re talking about confidence here. Like, whenever you celebrate your wins, it makes you number one, realize that I’m the type of person that I said I was. And then number two, I am capable of more and Lindsay, what you said, I did the hill Hill, therefore, I believe that I could do 29029. And building that piece by piece, even the people like you said Mark that don’t complete the entire thing, they still are going to be more confident whenever they go to take on something harder in their lives.
Marc Hodulich 40:45
100% You know, there’s so many lessons that you take from those moments that I think are most challenging on the mountain. And in a very weird way, each time I do the I look forward to those moments. Right? You know, you want it to be all just laughs and smiles and high fives. And then when it really starts to hurt, you’re like, Oh, I miss those times. But then after the event, I look back and I’m like, Oh, it wasn’t until 1am. Like, that’s what happened. That’s that’s when my reason for being on the mountain was Eric, changing your mindset to kind of looking forward to those moments. Is is something where you’re like, oh, I want to find my best self. And I know I can bring it out in those moments. And I wish I did it more at home. I’ve certainly found myself taking a step back and that don’t get upset at that season. 11. Right, like he’s gonna do that, right? Or I know that they take their shoes off when they came in the house today. It’s not that big of a deal. Like we can mop it up, right? But it’s those type of moments of like, hey, I can be present here. I can be in control. And that I’ve certainly learned in doing this time after time as well.
Sonya Looney 41:50
Yeah, something that I say to myself when I’m doing an event and you get in that moment where you’re like, this is super hard. I kind of want to quit this is really uncomfortable. I tell myself, this is what you came for. Like this is the whole reason you signed up for something like this. Like you wouldn’t sign up for something hard if you thought that you’re just going to breeze through it, because there would be no meaning for it. Or yeah, no meaning and whenever you do it, and you have that moment, and then you say yeah, like this is why I’m doing this because you wouldn’t do that in any other part of your life for any reason, unless you sign up for something like this.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 42:21
I had a very good pep talk with a guy. During the event it was the format was a little bit different. But the second night it was after the 12 hour day there was they stopped it for a little window and there was a dinner and I sat next to this guy who I didn’t know I just grabbed a plate and sat down. He’s talking and being friends with everybody. And I’m sitting there my blood sugar’s dropping, I’m breaking out these weird hives, confused, used to going down my face, and I’m like, in bad shape. And he turned and looked at me and he goes, You don’t look good. And I said, Well, I don’t feel good. I said, I’m really in a dark place right now, this has been really hard for me. And he asked me, he said, you know, how many have you done? And I said, Well, I’ve done 13 I’ve, I don’t think I’m gonna go back out tomorrow. I’ve got four more, and I don’t think I can do it. And he turned around and put his fork down. And he looked at me and he said, I have done nine he said Lindsey do not quit. He said, This is what you came for. He said there’s a peak and you’re almost there. And if you can just give it a little bit further and you get over that horizon. He said that is what you have paid for this is the experience you have come to seek like Do not give up. So he excused me, I went to bed I left he told me I’m not going to finish he said there’s no way in the world I’m finishing. But I’m sure as hell gonna be outside of your tent at 530 because there’s no way I’m not letting you finish what you’ve come here to do. And sure enough at 530 in the morning, he was standing outside the tent and walked me up the next one and to you know, to your comments earlier about people continuing to go despite not finishing. He was out there the whole next morning but was adamant about helping me start off and making sure I gotta think got going so
Sonya Looney 43:56
sorry, like that as well. So many goosebumps from that story. What are some other conversations you had while you’re out there?
Lindsay Wojciechowski 44:06
You know, there were a lot of really neat people out there and everybody is talking about their why a very I had very few conversations with people talking about what they did for work or where they came from, or those things, the questions that everybody were discussing were What’s your why what’s important to you? What means something to you? Why did you show up here today? And that was I got a lot out of that. And then it was really bonding. You know, there’s just people I didn’t know that I still stay in touch with one girl that I know Susie Chanel who signed up with me and did it and we will always be connected because we share that experience. So it’s very bonding. There were a lot of climbs that I just put my head down and kept on going and those were good claims too.
Sonya Looney 44:53
Yeah, that’s so unreal. And I always think about this like a lot of times we want to build these lasting connect shines in our lives, we all know that relationships are very important to us. But whenever you go make conversation with somebody that you just met, the conversations that you have are, what do you do for work? You know, these types of questions that they’re, they’re, I guess, sort of irrelevant, but it’s not who are you? And whenever you’re out there, it sounds like, what is important to you? What is your why you’re asking somebody who they are not what they do? And that is a really different question that builds a really different type of relationship.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 45:27
Marc Hodulich 45:29
And we talk in Ahmed YPO. And in my forum, we talk about, you know, 80 to 85% of the conversations that you have are the surface level conversations, right sports, whether what you do for work, and very few conversation and that 10 and 5% sharing, right. And I think that 29029 is a beautiful job through the duration of the event, the vulnerability that that occurs, do it and the feeling of kind of safety and community where you do start sharing on a tenant 5% level right away, like, it sometimes does take 1214 1820 hours of physical exercise, but you start to let your guard down. And I think I see that time and time again, where people will say, wow, like, here’s who I want to be when I go home, or I thought I signed up for this, here’s what I’m getting out of it. Here’s something that I want to change. Here’s something I liked about myself that I want more of. Those are things that I feel like people are being much more in tune to. And I’m feeling much more comfortable sharing within the community for sure.
Sonya Looney 46:35
Yeah, awesome. Well, um, I could talk to you guys forever about this, because there’s so much that we haven’t talked about. But I guess the last question I’ll ask you, Mark is, can you tell me the different locations that we have somebody is listening to this thing I want to sign up for next year, they can start thinking about it. Sure.
Marc Hodulich 46:53
Well, first of all, thank you for having us. I mean, Lindsey, thanks for joining in. It’s wonderful to see your face again and hear your story and tell Steve, I said hello. And yeah, so we’re still finalizing the calendar for next year. But it should kind of closely mirror this year with maybe an additional location or two. We’ll be at Sun Valley, Idaho. We’ll be at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we’d love to be back at Snowbasin, Utah, which is about 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake. And then Whistler Canada, and BC, which is I guess your neck of the woods, Sonia. And then strat and Vermont, the OG that’s where we’re at with us.
Sonya Looney 47:36
Yeah, and for the listeners, I’ll be doing the whistler event. So I’ll be reporting back to you guys, with my firsthand experience too.
Marc Hodulich 47:43
Awesome. Awesome. Can’t wait to climb with you. Well,
Sonya Looney 47:45
thank you so much, both of you for coming on the show, Lindsay sharing all of your experiences, and how inspiring and empowering that is gonna be for so many people listening, and mark for your courage and an insight to start something like this and to continue it. And I’d love to ask more questions. Questions about the business side? I mean, I heard you say that you you sold it and bought it back. So I mean, there’s there’s a lot to the story. Where can people find each of you and get more information?
Marc Hodulich 48:13
Well, I mean, me, the best thing is 29029. So there’s numbers 29029 ever seen on Instagram, and should be the number one hit on Google. And Lindsay, I’ll let you go ahead.
Lindsay Wojciechowski 48:26
Where can you find me? I’m @lindswojo on Instagram, and yeah, otherwise you can find me home back to my routine of being a mom and doing my nurse practitioner work. But I’m super grateful for this experience. I’m super grateful for the community and I’m honored that you guys would have me on today.
Sonya Looney 48:43
Thanks so much.