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Doug Duncan Born March 1967 in Elmira NY and once again proudly living in Elmira NY but sadly far from any mountains. The closest mountains for us are the Catskills 3 hours away the Adirondacks are 5 hours away, New Hampshire 7-8 hours and Maine 9-12. I feel like the driving is a huge part of the challenge of mountain climbing for me. And I realize we all are faced with driving when going to the mountains, just some more than others. I am hoping my story motivates someone to endure their own drive, and my story helps them achieve their mountain goals! I am proud to say that I have overcome this added challenge, and managed to achieve all of my North Eastern hiking goals, while at the same time working a full time job as an IT Professional, and living a full time life. I made driving part of the challenge and it made the driving acceptable for me.
How did I start hiking?
I was originally inspired to start hiking in 2009 by my mother, Danell Russell, who joined a hiking group started hiking and really got into it. When she came to visit from NC in the summer we did what mom wanted to do. We hiked. Our 1st ever real mountain climb was Mt Washington NH Sept 2009! One look at Mt Washington was all it took for me. One climb up the Tuckerman Ravine and we were forever changed.
I would like to add my mother was 69 years old in 2009 while climbing Mt Washington. In 2010 for her 70 Birthday she climbed Mt Marcy in NY. In 2020 we returned to Mt Washington and Tuckerman Ravine and once again she climbed to the summit and back down to Pinkham Notch! This time to celebrate her 80th Birthday. YES 80 years old climbing Mt Washington! My mom is a bad ass and a huge inspiration. I pray I am lucky enough to continue following in her footsteps into my 80's and beyond! Thank you mom for getting all of this started. Heading me down a road of health and happiness for life. I love you. Thank you.
I started hiking seriously the next year after our first climb up Mt Washington. In 2010 with Mike Cady and Speedy my dog by my side we took on the Adirondack 46! Soon we were going every weekend we could! The rest is history!
How did I get here?
Before hiking I spent 35 years of my life riding and racing motorcycles (and bicycles) in the dirt during the summer spring and fall, and on the ice in the Winter. I was lucky enough to become a race winning, and championship winning rider, with little or no injuries during my career. For this I am most very proud! I hate being injured. With focus and luck I really beat the odds! Looking back that makes me really happy! My favorite part of my racing career was the 11 years spent Asphalt Motorcycle Road Racing going 160 mph on the weekends up and down the east coast, racing at tracks east of the Mississippi!. I was an east coast rider, living my dreams.
Confessed adrenaline junkie for life I was somewhat surprised to find a home in the mountains once I started hiking.. It made sense though once I thought about it! The mountains are very dangerous. Especially in the Winter. They demand focus and concentration and do not easily forgive mistakes. Just like racing motorcycles ! A series of mistakes in the mountains can lead to injury or death. Just like racing motorcycles. Needless to say I was fast to fall in love with the mountains, and my need for speed and adrenaline were once again being full filled. but this time in a way I never saw coming! I went from 160 mph to 2 mph and was still on the edge of my seat, right where I like to be.
Why do I want to do this NEU8 thing?
I quickly learned mountain climbing and hiking to an extreme, has huge added benefits! It builds endurance and strength. You get back all you put in. Every step counts. It has become my fountain of youth and my road to elite health! Let me tell you my doctor is impressed. My check-ups are proof that becoming an extreme athlete has worked to improve my health. I am forever changed and strengthened by Ultra hiking and running, and super enthusiastic about sharing this gift!! The NEU8 has become the ultimate vehicle to share this gift. This has become the highlight of the whole thing for me and this keeps me moving forward with the NEU8!
One must get into great shape to complete the NEU8 challenge. There is no way around it. No arguing this point! If you go for the NEU8 you will be forever changed and molded into a stronger healthier happier you! Even if you start out physically in good hiking shape you will be taken to the next level. Hiking 52 miles in one day is not easy. Ask anyone who has finished the NEU8 and they will tell you! It was hard and almost killed them at times, however they came out stronger and healthier in the end. (If they do not say it almost killed them, tell them they need to go for the GOLD patch next!)
It brings much joy into my life to hear about people improving their fitness in order to finish this challenge. The NEU8 has become a wonderful and rewarding vehicle for me to affect others in a positive way, by the hundreds or even thousands. Who knows how many people the NEU8 is capable of positively effecting over time.? This singular thought makes it all worthwhile! I am forever grateful for being at the right place at the right time and for being lucky enough to have created this challenge!
This is what the NEU8 means to me!
Go for it and find out for yourself!
Good luck have fun and be safe.
Especially in the Winter!!
THE NEXT LEVEL: LETS BLOW THE ROOF OFF!
Introducing the NE8 and the NEU8 SKY RUNNER
So if the goal is to have a vehicle for me to effect others in a positive way, and to effect the largest amount of people possible, then lets be honest, the NEU8 is NOT the BEST idea. This is a pretty extreme challenge targeting a small group of ultra endurance hikers. Just a small percentage, of even the hiking community, will go for this one.
When I look around on the trail I see there are a lot more people than just Ultra Hikers. I tend to divide them into 3 groups. The largest percentage of people on the trails are hiking at their own pace, enjoying the day. I call them hikers. The 2nd group I call Ultra hikers, And the 3rd group of people are the trail runners, flying through the mountains with unimaginable ease. Although a small percentage of the outdoor community the trail running population is clearly on the rise!
No matter which of these 3 categories hiker, ultra hiker, or trail runner you may or may not fit into, there is NO DENYING WE ARE ALL DOING THE SAME THING OUT ON THE TRAILS. Improving our health, our endurance and fitness. And this brings me to my point: Doing the North East Ultra 8 at no matter what pace, no matter who you are, will take you to the next level. These 8 hikes are hard and they will challenge you. THE NEU8 hikes will push you and help you grow. This is something worth sharing with everyone.
MY FINAL CONCLUSON = 4 new hiking patches
The goal is to effect OTHERS in a positive way, and to effect the largest amount of people possible.
AND I truly believe the eight NEU8 hikes will improve your level of fitness and help you grow no matter what level you start on, Conclusion.
THE GOAL HAS BECOME SHARING THE NORTH EAST ULTRA 8 WITH EVERYONE.
THE NORTH EAST ULTRA 8 NOW HAS 6 PATCHES.
HIKERS: NE8 SUMMER/ WINTER
ULTRA HIKERS: NEU8 SUMMER/ WINTER
TRAIL RUNNERS: NEU8 SKY RUNNERS SUMMER/ WINTER
THE REST IS HISTORY!
NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE
THE NORTH EAST ULTRA 8 WAITS FOR YOU!
Have fun, enjoy, and be safe especially in the WINTER
My first ever Ultra Hike was June 2011, The Great Range Traverse in the Adirondacks of NY with Mike Cady and Libby (aka Speedy) my dog, to finish our regular season 46er on Mt Haystack.
First Ultra hike just for fun, The Saranac Ultra 6er, December 21st, 2012 at the inaugural Saranac 6er Winter kickoff event. Only 21 finishers out of near 100 starters, in an incredible storm and I was one of the finishers alongside of Mike Cady and Nancy LaBaff! The “Original Ultra Hiker” Nancy Labaff inspired me and several others to enter this event! I ultimately have Nancy to thank for launching my Ultra Hiking Career on this day! Nancy made me believe I could do something, that I thought I could not do! That is a special gift, and I will forever appreciate Nancy for the inspiration and for showing me a different path in life! The one that keeps you young, healthy, and strong! If Nancy LaBaff had not come into my life, the North East Ultra 8 would not exist today!
After doing those 2 awesome well known, named, Ultra hikes, the GRT and Saranac and loving them, I started to ask around. The question was, “How many known, named, Ultra hikes are there in the North Eastern USA where I live? I would like to do more of these crazy hikes, I thought. One day I am in my doctor’s office for an annual check up, and a National Geographic magazine cover headline caught my eye. it read something like “Top 10 toughest day hikes on earth” So I begin to read, and 2 of these famed hikes are in the USA, and one is in New York very near to where I live in the Catskill mountains! No way I thought. And what a cool name “The Devils Path”! Nat Geo says it is the hardest hike in the Northeastern USA and top 10 on earth.. Well here we go!!!
And so it went, for over a year I learned of these awesome known hikes, with cool names, doing each as I learned of them. I asked my hiking friends my question, then began to ask on the internet, and everywhere I could. After over a year of searching and asking this question, I finally came down to an answer. The answer was 8.
During this time period I was also chasing after 4,000-foot peaks in the Northeast. The ADK 46 and the NH48 and eventually all of the 4,000 foot peaks in NY VT NH and Maine called the NE111, Each of them twice both summer and Winter. In the end it occurred to me that none of those hikes were much more than 20 miles and 5,000 vertical feet of climbing.in a single hike. ANY of those hiking challenges could be achieved if you can hike roughly 20 miles and climb 5,000 vertical feet in a day!
As I looked around, I quickly saw that there were NO Hiking Challenges anywhere that rewarded big miles and big vertical feet like the Ultra hikes I had been discovering. If I felt the need for a Bigger Hiking Challenge, then surely others must too? And one does not have to look to far to see the trail running community. You hear about them. Humans running 100, 200, or even more miles all at once! Like the Moab 240 for example where you run 240 miles in the Moab desert! Even though I did not know any super athlete trail runners at the time, I knew they existed. I knew there were superhuman hikers and runners everywhere that needed a bigger challenge.
So why me? Why should I create this challenge? “The answer is obvious” I said to myself. I am the right guy for the job. After my long successful motorcycle racing career that spanned over decades, I now had a whole team behind me. Most importantly, I had Willie Vincent in my corner. Willie is an amazing talented artist, that did the graphics on my motorcycles, trailers, and vehicles throughout my racing career. He makes signs and does just about everything. The rest is history. I love the logos and the patches that Willie and myself created. I love all the work that Willie did for the NEU8. He is basically responsible for creating every logo, every patch, and every sticker, and getting the NEU8 off the ground. Thanks a million times over Willie! YOU ARE THE MAN!
As of the close of 2020 we now have 56 summer finishers and 5 Gold Patch Finishers! The NEU8 seems to have grown on its own from the grass roots of the hiking community! With no advertising or existence of a working website the NEU8 has grown strong in a very short time. Now that we are up and running there is no telling how far we can go. I want to give a special thanks, and special congratulations to our first 56 finishers! You guys had it tough with no direction and no website to follow. You pioneered the NEU8 on your own. You are the pioneers of the Northeastern Ultra hiking community! You are warriors. You are bad ass! Thanks for bringing us to life! Because of you, our first 56 finishers WE ARE HERE! The North East Ultra 8 Thanks you!
Adirondack 46er x 6
Adirondack Winter 46er x2
Catskill Winter 35er
NYS Fire Towers
NE 111 Finisher
NE 111 Winter Finisher #101
NEU8 Finisher #5
NEU8 GOLD Finisher #5
Completed NEU8 hikes 46 as of 7/12/23
ADK Ultra Great Range Grid Finisher #? 2/12/23
1st in History to complete the Winter Ultra Cranberry 50 with Jim Wallace 1/28/18