WORTHINGTON -- Kyle Raverty has stared down a mountain lion. He not only visited the Grand Canyon, he raced from one end of it to the other and back again. He competed in something called the “Canadian Death Race,” 78 miles long.
No, he’s not crazy. He doesn’t seem like it, anyway, just by talking to him.
He is, however, a marathoner, a triathlete, and a cross country skier. This weekend he’s in northern Wisconsin for the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross country ski race in North America.
It’s a little different this year, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of a one-day event, which is traditional, it’s being spread out over five days, for social distancing reasons.
“Normally they have 10,000 skiers and they shut down the highways,” Raverty said. “But this year because of Covid, they’re going to loop the course. There are no spectators involved. Normally you end in main street Hayward, but this year they completely changed the course.”
Raverty, a 1994 graduate of Worthington High School, smiles a little when he says his life revolves around exercise. He has a degree in geology and worked in the Rochester area for about 10 years, then went back to school and is now a physical therapist assistant at Prairie Rehabilitation.
But to say his life revolves around exercise seems like a severe understatement.
This year will mark his third time skiing the Birkebeiner. He has also finished three 100-mile foot races and maneuvered three Ironman Triathlons, which involve swimming, biking and running. He’s done many more 50-mile races.
Last September he did the “Rim to Rim to Rim” at the Grand Canyon, a race/hike where competitors began on one canyon rim, entered the canyon itself and kept going until they reached the other side, then turned around and started back to where they entered. The temperature was 100 degrees at the bottom, Raverty said.
“It’s kind of absurd,” he admitted.
The Canadian Death Race at the Canadian Rockies wasn’t as dangerous as the name sounds, but it wasn’t easy, either, since it measured 78 miles.
He ran a race in the remote regions of Idaho where, at about 2 o’clock in the morning, he came face to face with a mountain lion near an outcropping of rock. Raverty froze on the spot, and cut his light. Fortunately, the cougar walked away.
“He didn’t want anything to do with me,” Raverty recalled.
The feeling was mutual.
Raverty doesn’t pretend to be the greatest marathoner and cross country skier of them all. But that doesn’t matter.
“For me, it’s social,” he said, looking ahead to the Birkebeiner. “Normally there’s tons of spectators, and they’re cheering and beating drums. There are aid stations completely stocked with food. It’s a party atmosphere. There are people from all over the world.”
So if he doesn’t expect to win his extreme excursions, what’s the draw?
“I like it ‘cuz it’s really hard. In a really long distance race, the outcomes are not certain. For the normal person who runs a 10K race, they’re gonna finish. They might be a little slow, but they’ll finish. But in a 100-mile race, they might not finish,” Raverty said.
Raverty, 44, was an avid rock climber after high school. He moved to Idaho for two years.
“I started to run so I could stay in shape for climbing, and then I moved back to Minnesota and I just couldn’t climb the way I wanted to,” he said. “So I decided to run a marathon, ‘cuz I had all this energy to burn.”
Obviously, there’s more to burn.
“I hope (I can do this) until I’m in my 60s and 70s,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll always be pushing the limits.”