The 73-kilometre man

Sun Peaks Nordic Club is daring its members to spend a week skiing their age in kilometres

Gunner Rasmussen completed nearly 73.5 kilometres of skiing in 7:46:06 to celebrate his 73 birthday at Sun Peaks.

Gunner Rasmussen completed nearly 73.5 kilometres of skiing in 7:46:06 to celebrate his 73 birthday at Sun Peaks.

By Adam Williams

Kamloops This Week

The Sun Peaks Nordic Club is daring its members to spend a week skiing their age in kilometres as a part of the Ski Your Age Challenge.

Gunner Rasmussen decided to do it in a day.

The 73-year-old hopped on the trails at Sun Peaks on his birthday, Jan. 24. Seven hours and 45 minutes later, he had covered more than 73 kilometres.

“My little joke is I can do the same I did 20 years ago, it just takes me a little bit longer,” Rasmussen said with a laugh.

“That’s natural. Your body changes as you get older and that’s fine, but you can really do the same things. It just adds a couple more minutes to it.”

It actually took him a little more than 7:03 to cover the distance on his birthday, but he had to stop to eat at one point and to wax his skis at another.

Gunner Rasmussen poses next to a GPS watch which shows he completed nearly 13.5 kilometres of skiing in 7:46:06.

For nearly 10 years, Rasmussen has been skiing his age on his birthday, beginning when he turned 65 and retired.

He said it’s something special he wanted to do for himself, but there’s also a larger agenda.

“I love doing it . . . but it’s also kind of just show the world, because you turn senior and you’re up in that age, that don’t mean you can’t do stuff like this,” Rasmussen said.

He also snowshoes in the winter and is an avid biker, paddler and runner — though his knees don’t allow him to run as often as he used to.

“I just try to motivate older people to do the same thing.”

Rasmussen got his start on cross-country skis as a boy in Denmark — in those days, he would strap on his skis to make the three-kilometre trek to school each day.

Though the sport isn’t as big as it once was for the Danes — climate change has diminished the snow the European nation sees each year — the daily trip to school started Rasmussen on a lifelong love.

He would go on to compete as a cross-country and biathlon racer and was even an assistant coach for the Canadian cross-country team at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

Today, he’s out on the tracks daily. Rasmussen spends his summers on the Coast, but his winters as a full-time resident of Sun Peaks.

A few years back, he covered more than 2,500 kilometres on his skis over the course of a season. This year, he’s already closing in on 900 kilometres.

Though he’s another year older, Rasmussen doesn’t plan to let up. Though he could feel he had done something the day before, he felt no pain when he awoke on Jan. 25 — he even went out for another ski that day.

If Rasmussen has his way, there will be many more skis to come.

“I told my wife the other day, the day I turn 100 is going to be a hell of a long day,” he said with a laugh.