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Whistler triathlete set to climb for fundraiser

Karsten Madsen will bike the equivalent of Mount Everest's height on Saturday
Karsten Madsen is completing an Everesting challenge on May 23. Photo by Jesse Peters courtesy of Karsten Madsen

Karsten Madsen has crunched the numbers and has plans to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest's height on his bike on Saturday.

The Whistler-based triathlete will begin the effort at 6 a.m. on May 23 as part of Rebecca's Giddy Up Challenge, a fundraiser organized by American endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch. The movement supports COVID-19 relief through the Be Good Foundation. The funds raised will go to multiple different initiatives, including getting bicycles to frontline workers and supporting research into a vaccine.

Madsen said on May 21 that taking on the challenge was something he'd long been interested in doing, though it was never feasible while he was racing competitively.

While raising money to get bikes to people is close to Madsen's heart, with many events on hold until a vaccine is found, giving those efforts a boost is key.

"The main backstory to it, the why, is that COVID-19 for an athlete has been an absolute disaster," he said. "You realize pretty quick that your livelihood is directly affected by events. Even having other aspects of a coaching company and other income streams, they all revolve around that one literal thing."

Athletes are completing the challenge sometime between May 22 and May 25 during America's Memorial Day weekend, though Madsen chose the Saturday as it marks the date his first race of the year was supposed to happen.

"It's the perfect time to do something like this because there's no racing on the horizon," he said. "You're also driven towards accomplishing things. Right now, I can't race against my competitors and myself within racing, but I woke up this morning with that nervous energy of 'Man, this is going to be an 11- or 12-hour day.'

"It's going to be something that I can stand tall on when it's all done that I think is pretty rad."

It's a new type of challenge for Madsen in that his race times typically clock in at around three hours of hard racing. He currently holds the fastest Strava-recorded climb on Into the Mystic, though.

"This is the first time I'm going after just vertical. You're just trying to see how much vert that you can have," he said. "It's a little bit of a scary thought."

Madsen will complete the required 8,848-metre elevation gain (or 29,029 feet) in the Bayshores area, starting from the Cheakamus Way and Kadenwood Drive intersection and progressing up Kadenwood to the roundabout.

"The elevation gain per lap is 231 metres, bringing you to needing to do 38.3 reps up Kadenwood," he said, noting the distance travelled will be more than 240 kilometres.

Earlier this spring, Madsen completed the climb five times, and that was admittedly a slog. However, he'll opt for a road bike instead of his usual mountain bike.

Madsen said he would appreciate supporters on the side of the road, especially later in the afternoon, provided they can distance themselves safely from others. Another option is to follow along on Madsen's Instagram page @Karstenmad.

As a whole, the fundraiser has already exceeded its US$50,000 goal as of May 22 while Madsen was halfway to his $500 goal. To donate, visit

He added that there will be opportunities to drop off non-perishable food items for the Whistler Food Bank along the route.