O2X Summit Challenge: The mountain is the obstacle

The following post is sponsored content from new ATRA “Switchback” corporate member O2X.  

WARREN, VermontO2X Summit Challenge Series is bringing fitness back to its outdoor roots with an inclusive festival atmosphere and all-natural course options that will challenge anyone from the casual 5K jogger or weekend hiker to the hardcore mountain runner – those aren’t the only things that make the O2X Summit Challenge a different kind of event. But they’re a good start. An outdoor experience for runners, hikers and nature lovers, the O2X Summit Challenge Series debuts on Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush Resort on September 13.

Events at Sunday River, Maine (Sept. 27), Loon Mountain, N.H. (Oct. 18) and Windham Mountain, N.Y. (Oct. 25) round out the series. O2X Summit Challenges stand apart from obstacle races, at the same time offering much more than the straight-to-the-summit fire road mountain run. Courses will combine single-track trails with creative natural challenges like stream crossings, rock scrambles, downed trees, and glades, ending with a summit finish.

With a 4,000-foot mountain for a canvas, O2X course designers just didn’t see a need for anything beyond what nature has to offer. “O2X Summit Challenges are crafted mountain experiences fundamentally different from simple uphill running races,” said Gabriel Gomez, co-founder of O2X Summit Challenges. “We’ve worked with local mountain managers and combined our team’s experience setting routes around the world to create challenging and enjoyable adventures for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.” The course can be approached as a hike (take in the scenery), a run (there’s money on the line) or a mix of the two (because most of us just can’t sprint all the way up a mountain).

Participants can choose between Single Diamond routes that gain at least 1,000 net vertical feet and are three to five miles in length; Double Diamond routes, gaining at least 2,000 vertical feet and running five to seven miles in length; and Triple Diamond, gaining at least 3,000 vertical feet, seven to nine miles in length (coming out west in 2015). Training support is available through the mobile app Unleesh (www.unleesh.com), an experiential learning program that allows human performance experts at O2X to deliver daily workouts designed to maximize performance on the mountain. Unleesh provides easy-to-follow instructions with images accompanying each exercise in a given workout.

To receive the training plan, download the app on iOS and Android by searching “O2X.” Those who prefer the good old map-and-compass style to mobile apps can sign up for the O2X email list and receive a PDF copy of a 33-week workout. “The Unleesh app will help users establish a fitness baseline and structure their workouts with the perfect blend of duration, intensity and recovery right up to race day,” said O2X co-founder Adam La Reau. “It’s like having a personal coach training you to peak for O2X events – you don’t have to worry about going too hard or too easy, too long or too short – with the Unleesh training app, you’re in good hands.”


Pre-race camping, post-race celebrating and a fun, communal atmosphere will be in full effect throughout the event. A weekend-long “BaseCamp” will offer on-site camping, meals, hikeable spectator lookout points, a creative and fun kids race, training-and-performance exhibits, slack lines, bouldering walls and a farmer’s market-inspired gathering of local fare. The Sugarbush event will offer a $15 Chili Buffet featuring three styles of chili served in bread bowls as well as hot corn bread around a blazing bonfire. Breakfast will be served the morning of the race and food and drinks during the rest of the day.

Boston band Element 78 will headline the post-race celebration for all four series events. The dynamic collection of sponsors, partners and local supporters represented at BaseCamp include Juti Organics, Defense Mobile, Delta Dental and CamelBak. Ever stuck around for the conclusion of a concert or sporting event to see the mountains of trash and debris-strewn fields left behind afterwards? O2X organizers are committed to running a clean event and not letting that happen. That’s why they brought in a crack team of music festival green-up pros from a non-profit organization called REVERB.

“We have pushed hard from the conception of this event to hold ourselves and our partners to the highest standard of environmental responsibility,” said O2X co-founder Craig Coffey. “A zero-impact event is what we’re all striving for, and bringing in REVERB is another step toward our goal.”

O2X organizers are committed to composting and recycling, working with local suppliers to reduce shipping impact, avoiding single-serve packages and donating salvageable foods in the local area after the event. All O2X courses are built to U.S. Forest Service guidelines, and organizers are committed to a first-of-its kind Remediation Pledge to leave the mountain in better shape than they found it.


The debut event at Sugarbush is the first in four O2X events that make up the Summit Challenge Series. Men’s and women’s series winners will be awarded $1000 each at the final Windham Mountain event. Top finishers at the Sugarbush event will divide a $1500 purse on Sept. 13. Men’s and women’s Single Diamond course winners earn $250 each. Double Diamond course winners take home $500 each.

A special Rise Higher Award will be awarded to the most inspiring racer through an email nomination process (info@O2X.com) before the event. Registration includes parking, insurance, and bag drop. Racers who sign up for four 2014 races gain free entry to any single race in 2015. To register, visit www.O2X.com