Cliff Backyard Ultra Marathon Swim



  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Just an update: Karl and I need to discuss more, but we're both committed to doing this still this summer. I know I'm sick, and it's derailed our planning, but we are still planning on making this happen.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    Interesting article about Big's Backyard Ultra (the inspiration for this thread): link

  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USSenior Member

    Count me in...sounds like crazy fun!

  • SwimUpStreamSwimUpStream Portland Oregon Member

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to swim this as I have Tahoe in 7/23 BUT I may make myself available as medical support, if you’ll have me.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    edited February 2018

    Hi all-

    Karl and I met this weekend to discuss some logistics for this event. We're working on pricing, so we don't have a cost yet. We aren't looking to make money, so fees will be our best guess to cover the use of the lake, insurance, etc. But, here are a few things we do know:

    -Date is set for August 3-5. We're planning a pre-swim meal/meeting on Friday evening, the event will start on Saturday morning at 6 am, and continue until one person is left. If we get to 6 pm on Sunday with multiple swimmers, we have a plan in place to determine a winner.

    -We need to update Karl's website, but keep checking here for further info: (We'll get more info up soon, including an application.)

    -Distance is set for 1.5 miles per every hour. We'll set up a triangle course and there will be a start/finish buoy and two turn buoys. You're responsible for your own navigation and we'll only have a few kayak support teams for safety. So, keep that in mind when you sign up! You need to feel confident swimming alone, at 8000 feet in sub-70 degree water for at least 1.5 miles. And if you think you'll make it around more than 12 times, you'll want to consider your comfort level of night swimming.

    -We are going to cap this at 20 participants and registration will close on May 1.

    Let me know if you have questions and I'll update again when we have the website updated.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COSenior Member

    To add to @ssthomas great status update- we will be releasing registration details in the very near future and will make a post here when those details are finalized.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    Did I correctly pick up Tennessee on the website? Will you guys try to get an appearance from Laz?

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Still where 1.5 miles would likely take me at least an hour, but someday I'll be fast enough. :) Meanwhile, have fun, all. Will the start be signaled by the RD lighting a cig as at the Barkley Marathon? :)

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Race info is posted:

    Still fine-tuning the application and fees. Fees probably around $300, if you're trying to plan. That will include camping for 2 nights, parking, two meals, and all the other stuff that goes into planning a race.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COSenior Member

    Registration is now open. Details can be found at
    Deadline is May 1, 2018.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Email me your apps! We want you all! :-)

  • LynnkubLynnkub Charter Mem​ber

    I am not applying however my favorite line in the application says:
    "Have fun and not blame the race directors for anything out of their control, such as bad weather or your poor performance."
    That is AWESOME!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    I was feeling feisty. ;-)

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    @ssthomas Despite my earlier expression of interest, the first two weeks of August are permanently blacked out on my calendar for life. The family I married into has been spending those two weeks in Northern Minnesota for 80 years and will likely continue the tradition until long after I'm gone. So sad to miss. This is really something I would enjoy.


    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    We've had a few drop offs for this year's inaugural race. If anyone is still interested, let me know and I'll send you an application. :-)

    It's the first weekend of August and the cost is a mere $300. Camping and a meal included.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    edited August 2018

    The first year for The Cliff was a success! We had 16 swimmers start.


    Katharine Borczak- Failed on lap 2

    Richard Mohr- Failed on lap 3

    Jesse Smith- Failed on lap 5

    Anita Hartsock- Failed on lap 5

    John Hughes- Quit after lap 9

    Rachel Petersen- Quit after lap 9

    Drew Gaede- Quit after lap 10

    Micha Hanson- Quit after lap 11

    Stefan Reinke- Quit after lap 11

    Jan Burton- Quit after lap 12

    Karah Nazor- Quit after lap 12

    Joey Yoelvis Pedraza- Quit after lap 13

    John Batchelder- Quit after lap 14

    Mark Johnston- Quit after lap 14

    Shannon Keegan- Quit after lap 16

    Stephen Rouch- Quit after lap 17 and awarded the “Last to Fail” rock

    The fastest lap, from Joey, was a blazing 33 minutes.

    @Karl_Kingery and I hope to do this again next year, so pencil in the first week of August if you’re interested.

  • JSwimJSwim western Maryland, USSenior Member

    @Karl_Kingery and I hope to do this again next year, so pencil in the first week of August if you’re interested.

    It was a really fantastic weekend of swimming and socializing.

    Hats off to @ssthomas, @Karl_Kingery, the volunteers and crew members. I think I had it easier being a swimmer. I am definitely interested in going back (with a cushier camping pad).


    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch

  • AnitaLynnAnitaLynn Member
    edited August 2018

    @Karl_Kingery and I hope to do this again next year, so pencil in the first week of August if you’re interested.

    It's already in my calendar. Thank you, for a great, fun event and weekend. :)

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    Not sure if I'd rather be labeled a quitter or a failure? I guess it's a quitter for now.

    Thanks to EVERYONE at Wellington Lake this last weekend: @ssthomas and @Karl_Kingery , of course, but ALL of those who supported this inaugural event.

    I enjoyed seeing many of my old Colorado friends and meeting so many new, like-minded swimmers. WHAT AN AMAZING CROWD!

    It was great to be a part of this crazy concept!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Here is the race board.

    Cliff Board

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    edited August 2018


  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    the gate

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber


  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    The "coveted" "award".


  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    FlowSwimmers said:
    Not sure if I'd rather be labeled a quitter or a failure? I guess it's a quitter for now.

    Mark, you're definitely a quitter this time around!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Lynnkub said:
    I am not applying however my favorite line in the application says:
    "Have fun and not blame the race directors for anything out of their control, such as bad weather or your poor performance."
    That is AWESOME!

    We had bad weather and all sorts of unexpected things- I have to say, our swimmers were amazing. I didn't hear a single complaint. What a great group of people we had for our first year.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    And some swimmers did their homework:

    license plates

  • I hate camping... but daaam... this looks like a fantabulous event.
    I'm in next year..

  • KagemushaKagemusha Honolulu Member

    Camping part was pretty cool. Lots of good food and cheer.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    @ssthomas Did they bring you a white dress shirt too?

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNSenior Member

    That sounds like such a fun event! Great job to everyone who participated.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
  • caburkecaburke Charter Member

    Does anyone know how many hours the winner went last year?

  • GlobalSwimmerGlobalSwimmer New York NYMember

    This looks like a lot of fun. Silly question - what do swimmers do once they've done the loop, until the next one starts? dry up? eat? sleep? just hang in the water?

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember
    edited February 2019

    @caburke : The inaugural winner was Stephen Rouch with 17 loops. If you scroll up, you'll see a picture of the white board with everyone's lap times and dropout points. I'm pretty certain Stephen could have gone longer.

    @GlobalSwimmer : The answer probably depended upon each swimmer, their support crew, and their immediate needs. I don't think anyone just "hung out in the water," as the temperature was in the mid-60s. For the few transitions that were blessed with sunshine, I tried to take a quick nap. However, when the real weather set in, I pretty much spent time trying to track down my stuff in preparation for the next loop.

  • JSwimJSwim western Maryland, USSenior Member
    edited February 2019

    The results from 2018 are earlier in this thread. Stephen Rouch was the winner with 17 loops.

    Everyone hung out on the beach where the loops started and ended. Each swimmer generally had their own little area with their food, towels, chairs, etc. One of the Port-a-Potties was close by, if needed. My crew made me feel like royalty whenever I got out. I was handed a towel, led to my chair, given food, asked if I needed any else. No wonder it got harder and harder to get back in the water. :smile: Also, Sarah and Karl had a canopy set up on the beach, which was great when it rained. The campsites were really close for crew to get things if they needed to.

    Nobody stayed in the water between laps.

    I assume some people will wonder about this: I stayed in the same swim suit the entire time, as did most (?) swimmers. One of the speedy guys (who had a lot more time on the beach every loop than I did) wore a different suit each lap.


    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch

  • stephenrouchstephenrouch Indianapolis, INMember

    I really should finish my write up from Cliff. But there was a lot of strategy that went into that event for me. I wore a different suit each time, and it wasn't just for fashion! But lots of little things went into.

    1. Get out of the wet suit.
    2. Get dry
    3. Get warm
    4. Eat! (I ate a lot, cream cheese brownies were my MVP)
    5. Rest (Don't stand around, don't waste your energy on little things)
    6. Have fun
    7. Expend as little energy as possible swimming, find your Goldilocks zone (just right speed to cold tolerance). This is not a race but a slog.
    8. Warm feeds from the beginning
    9. Know that every time you get in that water it is going to hurt for a minute or two, but it goes away.
    10. Chose your crew wisely, and make sure you have a plan from the beginning. Your job is to swim, their job is take care of you. It is a challenging moment, I hate that selfish feeling of someone dealing with my every whim.
    11. Do something special for your crew. Their job was harder than yours. Probably the most important takeaway.
    12. Be confident in your abilities, even if you don't believe it yourself!
    13. Plan for all 36 laps (but let the support crew and event organization off the hook if you are the last one, they worked harder than you did!)
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    You make it sound deceptively easy. Dry suit. Cream cheese brownies. Wow. I'm in...

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    @stephenrouch said:
    1. Get out of the wet suit.

    So important, that little, itty-bitty space between the last two words. ;)


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    We opened registration today - so go sign up. If you did the swim last year, we'd love to have you back, but please read the rules. We tweaked a few things.

    Hope to see you guys out here this summer! And listen to Stephen. He knows what he's talking about.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    The Cliff 2019 registration deadline is quickly approaching! Please come swim!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    So, good news and bad news. Good news, we've accepted the following brave souls to the 2019 edition:

    Jim Janik
    Sarah Klahn
    Rachel Petersen
    Cheryl Reinke
    David Loeffler

    Which brings me to the bad news... there are only five of them. We need at least 10 more people in order to pull this off. We'll be keeping registration open indefinitely, so please send the info to your friends and harass them into signing up. You wouldn't want to let down Jim, Sarah, Rachel, Cheryl, or David, would you?

    Sign up link here:

  • I'd love to have this on my list of swims to do....but this year is out...
    and, I"m not sure about prepping for it down here in the "land of hot water lakes in the summer."
    Plus, altitude.


    Definitely on my list, though.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganSenior Member

    Would love it if 10 of you MSFers could sign up this year to keep the race going until I can get there.

  • kejoycekejoyce New EnglandSenior Member

    I echo the same sentiments! I'd love to do it/it's on "the list" but I'm already committed to helping out at Boston Light this year (which is the same day). I think it's a really fun concept and I hope it keeps up until I get there!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    We did accidentally schedule around Boston Light and The Kingdom Swims. Ooops. Blame the full moon. I suppose next year, we should look at the swim schedule better. Night swimming without a moon or night swimming with a moon? You decide! But, if we don't get enough this year, there probably won't be a next year. :-(

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Los Angeles and Palo Alto, CASenior Member

    Ugh, I wish I could!

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNSenior Member

    @ssthomas said:
    . Night swimming without a moon or night swimming with a moon?

    Maybe you guys have a lap doing full moons? Nekkid lap? LOL!

    I wish this was in warmer water and I'd be all over it. I'm a cold wuss!

  • Would love to participate one day!!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    To try and drive up participation, we did just open a RELAY option- two people, same cost! Check it out!

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