Nick was an accomplished downhill skier. He often would hike the rest of the way to Humphrey Ridge and ski east to State Route 89. I haven’t verified this, but the rumor is he once climbed to the top of the Walkup Skydome and skied off the roof.
While attending medical school in 1983, Nick entered the Tucson Marathon. He won in 2:17:28, a good time for an amateur even now. But that’s not all. In 1987, he participated in the Ironman triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. That’s a 2-mile ocean swim, a 100-mile bike and a full marathon. He finished seventh overall, the highest amateur finish in the race.
Gabriela “Gaby” Andersen-Schiess, a fearless, no-turn downhill skier, arrived in Flagstaff from Switzerland, on her own, to train for a marathon. She was referred to me to be a training partner, and a stronger female athlete I have never met. We ran many long miles together and competed in the Phoenix Marathon.
Gaby lived in Flagstaff for several years and was married here. She represented Switzerland at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in the marathon, for which she became world famous. A YouTube video captures her finish. Staggering into the stadium, suffering from complete dehydration, she refused any help and completed the lap before collapsing across the finish line.
As these examples show, northern Arizona runners then and now continue to represent the essence of true athletes, thanks to our independence, mental tenacity and willingness to take on physical challenges, not for recognition, but for the personal satisfaction of doing our best with what we have.
Since arriving in Flagstaff in 1969, Nat White has logged more than 30,000 miles, running these environs for the love of it and the great outdoors.
Do you have a column, tip or idea for High Country Running? Send it to coordinating editor Julie Hammonds at email@example.com.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!