On July 29, Dylan Brady and Emily Pittis were thrilled to have front-row couch seats to sumo wrestling.
Brady’s parents, who live in Kodiak, spend their evenings watching the Japanese sport on television. Not wanting to miss the action of heavyweight men pushing each other around was what powered Brady and Pittis through a record-setting performance in the Discover Kodiak’s Adjust your Altitude challenge.
“One of our mantras that we said throughout the day — and it was kind of a joke — was get home in time for sumo,” Pittis said.
The couple punished the challenge, scaling Kodiak’s seven peaks in a blistering time of 10 hours, 40 minutes. Their professional-level performance destroyed the previous record of 13:30, set in early July by Todd Murdoch.
“It was a really good time,” Brady said. “If we were to do it again, we probably could improve our time, but for that day that is about as good as we could have done.”
Brady, 22, and Pittis, 23, are recent graduates of the University of Montana and are visiting family on The Rock — Brady’s dad, Michael, is the manager of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Upon arriving, Brady inquired about the record and the challenge in the Adjust Your Altitude Facebook group.
Murdoch responded with his time and the order he attacked the mountains. Game on.
Before attempting the challenge in one day, Brady and Pittis — both athletes — got acquainted with each trail and peak, picking one a day to navigate. After a string of sunny days, which dried the trails, they two set forth, beginning the adventure shortly after sunrise on July 29. They reached the first summit — Sharatin Mountain — at 7:55 a.m.
The race was on after that.
They banged out Pyramid, Monashka, North Sister and Barometer mountains before getting snagged on Kashevaroff Mountain. Brady blamed the slow time up Kash — 2 hours, 25 minutes — on lack of nutrition. The two ate apples and Cliff bars and drank lots of water to stay energized throughout the day.
“Coming down Barometer really beat my legs down a little bit, so going into Kashevaroff my spirits were pretty low,” Brady said. “Emily’s were pretty high, luckily, and pulled us through that one.
“That was supposed to be one of our faster ones. We both run quite often, and that is a fairly runnable peak up and down. We ended up hiking it.”
The couple regrouped and ascended the final mountain, Heitman, in 58 minutes, 52 seconds. When they reached the top, they finally relaxed. But not for too long, they had to get home to watch sumo.
“It felt great to take a breather,” Pittis said. “We did it for fun, and it ended up being really hard, but at the end, it was a big sigh of relief and super enjoyable.”
Pittis, originally from Bellingham, Washington, is a decorated runner, claiming three Class 2A Washington state cross country titles and four track titles before extending her career at the University of Montana. She was an All-Big Sky Conference performer before an injury slowed her career, and the pandemic ended it.
“It was not the collegiate career I had hoped for,” Pittis said. “Ending with COVID canceling everything was definitely tough. I’m just glad I can still run and enjoy it.”
When track season ended, Pittis and Brady — a high school swimmer and bike racer — took to the trails around Missoula, running in the morning, afternoon and evening. The two enjoyed having adventures.
Conquering the seven summits in 24 hours was an adventure like none they had done before. This is Brady’s second trip to Kodiak, while Pittis is experiencing the Emerald Isle for the first time. She said doing the Adjust Your Altitude challenge was a great way to see the island. Attacking all the peaks in 24 hours has become popular among hikers since the conception of the challenge in 2019. The challenge ends Sept. 7.
“Kodiak is stunning and is so beautiful,” Pittis said. “The trails are really awesome, and being around such big bears is definitely something that still freaks me out.”
The two will be leaving the island soon, but their record time could stand for a while.
“There are a lot of tough people out here and people who know the peaks way better than us. I’m sure people will crush it at some point,” Pittis said. “That is part of the fun thing in doing stuff like this, hopefully, it will inspire other people to go and do cool stuff.”